Preparing in Spite of Myself

Dearest Rachel –

You know well that, even when you were around, I rarely took packing all that seriously. While you would put together lists of all the things you thought we would need (granted, that list was considerably longer for a ‘get away from everything’ type trip like the island, as opposed to an ‘all-inclusive’ vacation like a cruise), and spend a good deal of the night before packing, I’d basically determine how many days we’d be gone, throw in about that many shirts and pairs of underwear and socks (with a 20-30% bump in quantity for those days when we would be changing clothes midday, be it for a formal dining night or just going swimming – because that was guaranteed to happen on vacation, whether I wanted it or not), fill my computer backpack with an assortment of hard drives (because we’d collected so much to read or watch over the years, but with new things flooding in over the internet, we never bothered to go through much of it – save for Doctor Who episodes – unless we were somewhere we couldn’t get internet very well – like the island or a cruise, both of which have improved reception considerably over the past twenty years, I should add, meaning that I’ll likely never get to most of this stuff), and call it good. Yes, there were toiletries and whatnot that I also needed to assemble, but as we would be needing those here at home until just about the last minute, that’s when I would pack those. No point in getting too frantic about it. Although, maybe I was too cavalier about it because I knew you were behaving otherwise, and you would have my back for anything I might have neglected.

“Aw, shoot. Honey, it looks like I tore a nail picking that bag up.”

“Oh, wow, yeah, that looks nasty. Here, I packed this file; let’s get that smoothed out.”

Yeah, maybe I relied on you a bit too much for those kind of things. Sorry about that. Still, it wasn’t as if I lacked for all that much while I was confined to quarters in the Pullman, so I’d like to think I do a reasonable job of preparing for my own needs and requirements. I mean, the one thing I really missed wasn’t something I could have packed and taken with me, after all.

And that’s another thing that leaves me less than enthusiastic about packing; it’s hard to get all that worked up about traveling anymore. Sure, I’ve had an itch to travel since long before I met you; I still remember music competitions back in high school that would take us to local college campuses, where there would be flyers on the odd bulletin board advertising for student travel opportunities. I may not really have been meant for backpacking across Europe – and certainly am not up for that kind of adventure at my current age – and what little I know about youth hostels and the neighborhoods they’re likely to be in (granted, that’s me placing an American template over a European cultural artifact, so my imagination of what they might be like may very well be skewed) does not recommend them to my present self, but to younger me, that was something to dream about doing, even if I had to be on my own, or with a group of strangers.

But now that I am traveling on my own – granted, I’ll also be surrounded by a crowd of strangers doing much the same thing – it’s not the same, and it’s hard to get all fired up about it. It makes a difference, I suppose, when you’ve gotten used to having someone by your side all this time. It sucks so much of the joy out of it, when there’s no one else to experience and express the wonder of each new destination, kindling your own enthusiasm when it might otherwise be flagging from exhaustion or simply being jaded. Whereas multiple people can infect each other with awe and joy, that echo chamber effect doesn’t exist when you travel alone. You have to create your own awe, and while there are plenty of locations that generate that for you, that’s only once you’re there. At the moment, I’m just trying to get through each day, and the thought of the future just doesn’t spark anything within me, or at least not to the extent you’d think it ought to.

All of which boils down to the fact that, despite a number of people asking me about it, no, I haven’t packed a stitch yet. Never mind that I should be leaving for the airport in barely forty-eight hours – and I do have my Covid test lined up for this afternoon, so that it will be within the required seventy-two hours prior to boarding the ship – I haven’t gotten around to making any preparations at this point.

That’s about to change – it kind of has to. I mean, it isn’t as if I’m going to let myself travel naked. Besides, since Kris is over to do some cleaning this morning, it’s a good time to stay home (granted, my Covid test appointment would also have suggested I take some time away from the ‘office,’ but this just adds to it), do a few loads of laundry, and toss the clean stuff into the suitcase straight from there.

It’s the one concession I make towards doing my own cleaning up prior to (and let’s face it, during – because it’s a time-consuming process, even if I can leave the machines to their own devices and do other things in the meantime) her visit. I know that both my mom and my sister take the time and effort to clean their houses up a bit before their cleaning people come by; I don’t quite understand that. Isn’t this supposed to be their job? I mean, I kind of get the idea that you might want to limit their time if you can do this or that little thing – after all, cleaning services do charge by the hour – but as long as you’ve got a professional over, let them handle things. It’s probably a pound-foolish attitude I’ve begun to take toward just about every expenditure, but considering the whipsaw gains and losses on your family’s investments (and those we’ve made since then), there are very few transactions I might involve myself in that even come close to those changes in value. Might as well use – and enjoy – what we have. It’s what we planned to do, after all (all the while bemoaning the fact that your parents and grandparents couldn’t bring themselves to do so); I can’t see you begrudging me (and Daniel, eventually – more on that another time, I hope) that.

And while I’m sorry you join them in being unable to really take advantage of this financial situation, at least I can find satisfaction in that wherever you are, it’s probably that much better than even the places I might be traveling to, so it’s not like you’d consider it a loss. Although… I’d be curious to see whether you’ve managed to clutter your mansion up already.

Still, I’ve got to go and get everything taken care of. Wish me luck, honey; I’m going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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