Packing as we get older
ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
When you reach your sixth decade, there’s no such thing as packing light anymore. Ignore the hysterical blogs from well-meaning nuts who claim otherwise, because anyone who smiles that much should be immediately questioned.
Most of the time, you don’t think about aging and it’s only when you need to go somewhere that you come face to face with the truth. It takes a village and at least five suitcases to get you out of the house — almost one valise for every 10 years of existence.
The first suitcase is for your medications, vitamins, cosmetics, lotions and potions. Gone are the days of a toothbrush and one minty Chapstick. Recently, I packed for a book tour, which is where I would meet a lot of people up close and personal. My face had to be less haggard than usual so I packed up a few new bottles that a young girl convinced me to buy in a cosmetic store. “You must have an exfoliant, a moisturizer, a primer, foundation, a liquid blush, a makeup brush that costs the Earth, a brush cleaner and a lipstick that costs $45. It smells divine.”
For that price, it should smell like a turkey dinner.
So, I put these new bottles in with my old bottles and now I have a toiletries bag that is so heavy, it could be used as a weapon. I also need at least five hair products besides shampoo and conditioner to make my hair look somewhat alive. A hair dryer and flat iron are also a must; all of this takes up space in a small suitcase.
Then there’s the luggage for the shoes alone and the inserts that go in the shoes so you don’t end up in a wheelchair at the end of your trip. Remember the days when you wore flip flops or went barefoot? Now you have to bring shoes that show your toes or don’t show your toes, depending on how kind you’ve been to your feet over the years and if you’ve had a recent pedicure, because at this age, it’s not so easy to bend over to do your own toenails.
Everyone packs too many clothes, so there’s no need to pontificate here. In middle age, our clothes are a lot less flimsy and take up more physical space in our bags. That’s why our suitcases are bulky, like us. And we all worry about spilling gravy down our blouse, so we shove three more than necessary in at the last minute. Then we remember the wool wrap we bought that promised to be so handy in all kinds of situations. We’ve taken it everywhere, but never used it. Well, there’s always a first time, so we shove that in, too.
Then there are those of us who have medical equipment that keep us alive. A CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machine for sleep apnea, for example. A device that lessens snoring and, so too, the chance of divorce. The trouble with them is that they are heavy and unwieldy and awkward — just what you want to plunk on a conveyor belt at the airport. It’s another bag to throw over your shoulder; we’re up to four bags, if you’re counting.
Now, we have a briefcase that carries a small pouch of jewelry, a notebook with our passwords in it — since we can’t remember them — our laptops, tablets, phones, chargers, Kobos and Fitbits, because the world will fall apart if our 2,000 Facebook friends can’t reach us or we can’t figure out how many steps we took. It will also carry around the thick wad of paper we have with hotel reserva- tions, plane tickets and insurance details because we’re middleaged and we don’t quite trust the apps on our phones the way younger generations do — we need to flutter a piece of paper in someone’s face if they challenge our right to sit on the plane, sleep in the hotel or show the doctor when we fall from a hang glider in Cuba.
Then, if you’re a female, you have to take your purse. There’s no way you can leave home without that. To not have a purse in your hand is like forgetting to take your baby out of their crib in the morning.
Now you look like a Sherpa guide on your way to planes, trains and automobiles. Let those youngsters with their grungy knapsacks scoff at us. One day, they, too, will carry fanny packs, water bottle holsters and wear socks with sandals to avoid blisters.
Sometimes growing older also means a growing list of items to pack. Lesley Crewe is a writer living in, and loving, Cape Breton. These are the meandering musings of a bored housewife whose ungrateful kids left her alone with a retired husband and two fat cats who couldn’t care less. Her 10th novel, Beholden, is being released this fall.