When Will We Travel Again
Anticipation lifts in me like a child coming downstairs on Christmas morning.
I rescue my carry on from the dark recesses in the back of the closet. I run my fingers over the worn duct tape covering the logo. I put it there in an futile attempt to hide the value of the luggage in the hopes that a would be thief might be fooled.
Ruefully, I recalled the delusion that I could somehow look poor; an older, white traveler from the West, I am wealthier than the locals by default of birth. And I have the gift of time.
One of my favorite parts of a journey is the anticipation. I especially enjoy the process of packing. I gather travel gear, imagining the days and nights of exploration to come. I think about what I will need on this particular journey; the climate, the customs and the way I will approach the inevitable shift in the way I live. And the people I will meet. I’m the most excited about that.
Covid-19 has changed the world. I imagine how the plane will be reconfigured to allow more distance between passengers and I’m grateful. My kit now includes masks and sanitizing wipes. I tuck my immunity records into my passport for easy access.
Finding a small gadget with a slim design that neatly fits into a compact case, I slip it into the suitcase. There will be the moment of relief in a hotel room, when I dig through travel weary belongings and find this essential tool. I’ll send a blessing to myself, a smug little thank you for my foresight in this current moment.
I remember camping impulsively on Monkey beach in Thailand, finding a small key-chain flashlight in my kit, it was the most valuable possession I owned in that moment.
I try on clothes, audition outfits and recall favorites and failures of past trips while I imagine the weather, the streets, and the admonishing glances of stern faced matrons guarding temple doorways.
I am glad to be an older traveler, able to set aside the need to be ‘fashionable’ for the comfort of ‘dumpy matron’, who wears layers of modest clothing in place of shorter skirts and tank tops.
The shoes that want to come along are lined up in a row. I unsympathetically set aside the ‘dressy’ ones until I am down to three pairs, one for the plane, one for hot weather and flip flops for the shower. All of them are worn and comfortable to walk in for long periods of time.
Finally a small pile of clothing is left and now comes the moment of assessment. If I am to follow the many ‘rules of packing’ found on the Internet, I have too many dresses. I shouldn’t take the flowy skirt that makes my heart thrill when I put it on, as it only really goes with two of the five tops, maybe three if you don’t look to closely at the clashing patterns. I leave it in.
I’m bringing the requisite scarf, which I know I won’t use as much as the experts say I will, but it might come in handy at one point in the trip as a towel, or a cover for my sinful bare shoulders that might dare to enter a place of worship.
I remove one pair of shorts and decide to eliminate a shirt, while making a plan to leave another one behind when I reach my destination. Now I have room in my suitcase, just the way I like it.
My shoulder bag holds the things I’ll need on the plane and I pack the rest; rolling shirts and pants in compact tubes and tucking them into some logical arrangement.
Ironically, this satisfies my need for order which gives me comfort as I embark on a journey to discover unexpected magic.
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