Pack­ing as we get older

South Shore Breaker - - Sports - Les­



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.

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