Be careful what you ask for. Recently, that proved true for my better half.
We were planning a driving trip to Florida to stay at my parents’ condo on Hutchinson Island, taking our bikes, golf clubs for a round or two and a hippo-heavy book bag jammed with novels I couldn’t wait to get my hands on.
“Let’s only take one suitcase,” Spark said. “We have a wash machine and it’s just the two of us — we can wear the same thing over again.”
That sounded sensible but my stomach knotted in anxiety. I know women who pack smart, but I’ve never been able to pull it off. Lots of clothes in my closet have frequent flyer miles but have spent their vacation getting creases in the far reaches of Samsonite pieces.
This time around would be different. I’d only bring the essentials. That was easier said than done. It was difficult not to fall back into my old habit and tuck in one more outfit “just in case.”
I spent one entire morning traipsing up and down to the basement dragging up summer things, pedal pushers (do they still call them that?) long, long Bermuda shorts (how many inches separate them from pedal pushers?) and short sleeve T-shirts that made me pine for arms like Michelle Obama’s.
Into the suitcase went biking shorts and shirts. How I joyed in spandex and moisture wicking fabrics that can be rolled and squashed into nothingness, sans wrinkles, leaving plenty of space for four pairs of shoes, a girl has to be comfortable, and two pairs of flip-flops, in different colors, of course.
Seeing my necessities set out on the bed, I felt proud. I’d done it, had even purged — pulled two outfits that I intended to bring, Spark’s words reverberating in my head.
Of course I cheated a bit. My everyday casual and workout clothes, athletic shoes and other items were in the suitcase, but my dressy things were hanging. Several shirts, nice slacks and a jacket I planned on wearing to “Book Mania,” a literary event at the library in Stuart that I’d wanted to attend for years, but missed every time we came south.
This time, I’d also prepared in advance for our trip. I laid out my clothes three days early. We weren’t going to leave until Sunday at 5 a.m. but as the weekend approached so did a forecast for freezing rain. A winter storm was supposed to hit directly in the area we’d be driving through.
On Saturday we woke up and made a last-minute decision. We’d take off as soon as we could. “I’m already packed,” I told Spark. Impressed with myself, I went to the kitchen to pop a pork tenderloin in the oven for sandwiches along the way.
While Spark got his things ready and loaded up the bikes, I cleaned out the refrigerator. We had thought of everything, or so I thought.
At noon we backed out feeling cocky about how fast and organized we’d been. We settled down for the long drive, and were making good time until we hit the skids in the flat, boring part of Illinois when a thought came to Spark. He slowed down for a second.
“You did get your hanging things, right?
You could have heard me groan and grouse all the way back in Missouri, as my mind raced trying to remember what I’d left behind.
“This could be a pretty expensive vacation after all,” Spark said. “Guess we’d better find a shopping center — want to make that the second day we arrive or the first?”
“Darn the luck,” was all I said.
Next time he might think twice about suggesting I pack light.