Embracing Packing and Then Conquering It

Packing in Salt Lake City, UT

Packing in Salt Lake City, UT

[Insert Whip Cracking Sound Here]

My brain does not work in an Excel spreadsheet sort of way. I do not live a cute, Etsy-styled, Pinterest-board, pre-packaged life. My packing style follows suit. Right now the most important thing I can do is leave with clean clothes. Everything else can be figured out along the way. In truth, so can the clean clothes.

Packing: I should own you by now. I should know how to do you right. I actually should have a clever crafty list, a tried-and-true way, a “something” that actually makes packing easier. I don’t. Ok. I do have one tried and true method that my lovely and feisty midwestern Grandma Koener, standing 4’10” tall, gave to me. “Bethy,” she said. (Yes, she called me Bethy until the day she died). “Bethy, roll your clothes when you pack them. They will not wrinkle, and trust me, you will have more space.” Grandma Koener is correct and since the day she packed me for college and I watched her energetically roll all of my clothes (at age eighty-something), I have been likewise not only rolling my clothes when I pack, but sharing the gospel of clothes-rolling

Today I am in no mood to roll my clothes. My calves ache (from a hike earlier this week I think), Kyle’s ears (yes, both of them) hurt, and Eli wants to go back to bed. As the leader of our motley crew, I must push through the leg and ear pain, through the fatigue, and push us through. I push us through with the following knowledge: Along with Grandma Koener’s it-really-works clothes rolling technique, we have awesome suitcases, with great compartments, and Kyle and Eli know how to pack (yes, they roll their clothes too). I also have the knowledge that every trip is different.

And what I mean by different is each time I go out of town our life is surrounded with different circumstances. Because I know things are never the same, I have learned to cut myself some slack (and the boys, and Dave too, of course) and pace myself. Forgiveness is key. I tell myself thing like, “so what if clothes are folded instead of rolled?” Does it really matter if my toenails are painted? (Yes). And really, who cares if I (Dave) put new music on my iPad. I can play Bubble Bust instead.”

The boys and I in Barcelona, Spain

The boys and I in Barcelona, Spain

The slack I give myself is the understanding that today we are living in a temporary apartment. Most of our belongings are stashed away in a storage unit miles from here. Kyle probably does have a double ear infection. Eli is exhausted. It is the last week and a half of online school (oh thank God), and I am pushing them to finish. In truth, I have my own schoolwork to do. I should be doing that instead of packing or writing a blog post. I am here instead of reading early twentieth century literature or trying to find the missing bra-cup pad for my swimsuit top liner (you and I both know that one or no swimsuit bra pads is not a pretty sight).

Please learn from me. I promise you will forget something. I also promise that you will be ok. Pack what you need. If you forget something, do not worry. Do not let your need for perfection ruin your day. Perfection comes when we let go.

Me and my Grandma Koener

Me and my Grandma Koener

Our plane leaves at midnight tomorrow. I know I will figure it all out. I will see my mom. I will pick up our mail. I will actually buy a new swimsuit. Kyle will go to the doctor, and Eli will get his extra credit done. Dave will buy the jungle bug spray, and if he forgets, we will buy some along the way. Wish us luck! And yes, the only thing that would make my packing experience better is if Grandma Koener were here by my side rolling clothes into my suitcase. Dude, she could pack!