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Slices of Life - The big pack

March 11, 2016
Jill Pertler - Columnist , Traer Star-Clipper

Everyone looks forward to vacation. For me, the days (weeks, months even) leading up to a 7-day hiatus are filled with ever-increasing amounts of packing-related frenzy, many of which are unneeded and even a little bit whacko. But I do them anyway.

The process starts with organization. Not of the suitcase, but of the every closet, drawer, nook and cranny in the house, vehicle and perhaps even the garage.

I start with clothing. Each garment is assessed for wearability, size and cleanliness. If something is stained or outgrown, it is discarded. I get rid of heaps of items belonging to my husband and kids. When I get to my closet, however, I struggle with abandonment issues. I keep things I haven't worn in years because you never know when you might need a brown checkered blazer and it's a real possibility that shoulder pads might come back in style someday.

One space in particular gets a considerable amount of my time and attention: the swimsuit drawer. I try on every suit I've owned since the 1990s because why toss a perfectly good bikini when it can sit in your drawer for all of posterity? The maternity suits could probably go at this point, but they bring back pleasant memories and throwing them out would seem cruel and uncaring.

Moving to the entry closet: can a girl ever own too many coats (or jackets as the case may be)? Rhetorical question. I wonder how many I should take for the trip. No need to bring just one when four will do. Maybe better make that five.

Unlike many women, I don't often give a lot of thought to shoes. I like mine comfortable and casual. I wear a couple different pairs. Until vacation. Then I feel the need to wobble on heels - on the beach - in multiple colors and styles.

I review my purses and bags and don't recall purchasing at least half of them. Perhaps they've started to self-multiply. Ever gotten rid of a purse just because you don't use it anymore? Me neither. On my latest audit, I was thorough and inspected the contents of each bag. I found sunscreen and a pack of crackers in one. Great! Unfortunately both were dated 2009. I wonder what 7-year-old crackers would taste like? My husband nearly found out. He fetched the wrapped cracker package from the garbage thinking they'd been tossed accidently by one of the kids. Luckily I caught him in time.

Although I have more swimsuits than days of vacation, when my household reorganization is complete I do the obvious. I shop. Online. Incessantly, because the items in my closet and drawers, while perfectly fine for regular days at home, are not new and somehow I think I need something new to wear on vacation.

The same goes for my husband and kids. I feel the urge to buy them sandals, sunglasses and beachwear. I search for coupon codes and free shipping deals and the online shopping continues for days and even though I start out early I delay any purchases until the last minute so I end up spending extra on overnight shipping anyway.

Shopping complete, it is time to get the suitcases. But not to pack. Not yet. The crescendo continues to build. My husband and I take the suitcases out to the vehicle to do a dry run. We know space is at a premium and if left to the last moment before our departure we could realize we have more suitcases than cargo space and would be forced to reassess our priorities and leave one of the kids at home.

I take packing to a whole new level - and that's before I put one T-shirt into a suitcase. Which I do get to, eventually, by the way. But usually not until late - on the night before the morning we're scheduled to leave.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright and author. Don't miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

 
 

 

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