Well, it’s 1:44am… I have a 6am-ish flight to Chicago…. I haven’t yet started packing, and the TSA says I should be at the airport for 5:15am…. But I couldn’t possibly pack yet. Nope… I MUST wait at least 16 more minutes…. So, naturally, I just figured I’d write a blog post… which will probably occupy more like 23 minutes….

Truthfully, I’m not OCD about it; there isn’t a timer, but it just seems that whenever I’m traveling somewhere (anywhere), regardless of the time of departure or length of trip, I won’t get around to actually starting to pack until about 2am the night before…. And it will kinda continue up until the moment I leave. It just works that way… by the time I finish the “to-do” list of the 97 school, work, and personal things I need to wrap up before I leave, it’s just generally around 2am.

…and that list gets longer with age, it seems. Let’s hope it plateaus at some point! LOL! I can’t imagine having real kids! Making sure I’ve done everything I need to do to leave “my kids” (students) for a Friday and a weekend is stressful enough! I even feel guilty about leaving them, although I didn’t have choice about this date and I KNOW they will be fine with the plans I’ve made and great people still with them.

I think a lot of people would be a nervous wreck if they didn’t start packing until 2am; honestly, I kinda thought I would be, knowing me. In most aspects of my life, I’m pretty organized and definitely an advance planner… Like, I NEED to have my work schedule sketched out in time blocks 6 weeks in advance- all the time. I like my concerts scheduled for the year in AUGUST.  But when it comes to travel, I don’t need that.  I have my “norm”, and it’s strangely comforting…. And when it happens, it tells me everything is going according to plan. I don’t pack before 2am.

It’s my pre-travel ritual… and let’s face it, a MAJOR reason rituals are comforting is because they are predictable… It’s what you do!

I really already started packing days ago. In my brain, I’ve put bunches of different things in my suitcase, taken them out, changed accessories, changed suitcases, and made post-it reminders…. Real post-it reminders will be on the bathroom mirror before I “go to sleep” for a brief nap before I head out to the airport… Because we all know “Morning Tara” cannot be trusted to think without assistance about anything other than diet coke. 🙂

I also know I WILL FORGET SOMETHING. That’s another rule of travel… I always forget something. Literally, for the LAST.THREE.TRIPS, this item has been my flat iron… which is a major problem. I really don’t care that much about how I look, but the “white trash wave, white girl afro, or socket-head” look that results from my hair going natural is NOT ok… I tried it for 2 days in Spain… my friends and colleagues graciously tried to be all, “Oh, no, it looks fine! It’s kinda fun and free” and finally, before the big dinner of the conference, people were all, “You know, there’s a department store that sells them just down the road!” I now own 4 flat irons- 2 “normal” ones, 1 mini travel one, and- my pride and joy- a European Hannah Montana flat iron from Spain. It’s really the best one, I have to say!

The flat iron has earned its place on the “do you have this packed?” post it, alongside:

  1. Eyeball
  2. Bras
  3. Toothbrush
  4. Hairbrush
  5. Perfume
  6. Cell phone & charger
  7. ID & credit card

You know… the essentials- have all your body parts, look and smell decent, be able to communicate and buy things.

My parents are in New York right now having some fun. I kind of laugh thinking of my packing style and my mom’s….  Growing up, we would talk and get excited about trips or vacations weeks in advance… the first sign that it was REALLY HAPPENING was when the suitcases came out of the attic… I remember that being sooooo exciting… picking my favorite suitcase out of the ones brought down and BEGGING for my stuff to be put in whatever one I decided was the best looking suitcase (whatever that means!).

My mom’s pre-travel ritual was that she’d start packing 1-2 weeks in advance… Which I guess you have to do when you’re a mom and packing for 4-5 people instead of 1… The suitcases would be all lined up against her bedroom  wall- the shoe bag, the hanging clothes bag, the boys’ bag, my bag, her & dad’s bag, the makeup bag… and stuff would slowly fill up.

When you wore something for the last time before the trip, and it got washed and went to the suitcase instead of your closet, it was kinda like opening another door on those Advent Calendars that count down to Christmas with the little chocolate inside… you could feel it getting close…. And it was exciting!

…and then there was your “airplane outfit”. When I was little (like, less than 9… like, only had 1 little brother little), people still dressed up to go on the airplane. We were usually going to Cayman for a summer visit… and my mom would pick out some “matchy-matchy” coordinated outfit… like a cute sailor dress and matching shirt/ short set for my brother… and I seriously thought I was a movie star… a BIG DEAL. Those “plane pictures” are some of my favorite photos from my childhood- us all dressed up, beaming with happiness and excitement from the luxury of seat 34C & D.

I guess it didn’t really help my narcissism that when I got off the plane in Cayman, I could look up and see my family members waving at me from the viewing deck on the 2nd floor of the small airport… It was just like you see in the movies! I really thought I was almost famous there…. Probably for a little longer than a normal kid should have… Ah, relatives are the BEST, right? 🙂

Well, once that “airplane outfit” was laid out in my room (Mom always put our clothes out the night before… None of us are morning people), I was too excited to sleep. I wasn’t nervous- I’ve always loved traveling and flying… I honestly think I’d live out of a suitcase and travel constantly if given the chance… I was just pumped- ready to go, ready to see what some other place had to offer… and it never disappointed me. EVER.

So, it’s the night before a trip.  …And I’m awake, and excited… And since my Mommy has not packed my suitcase, I should probably do that. It’s 2:31… NOW I’m behind schedule.

Have a great weekend!

I’ll be back Sunday or Monday with my post-NCE/ Chicago posting!



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