Today’s a Day for Packing

The kids and I have had an extended summer road trip — a few days in Long Beach Island, New Jersey; the kids at Quinipet camp on Shelter Island, Long Island; I went to Dillard University in New Orleans and then the New Age Spa in the Catskills; the kids and I to School of Christian Mission in Danbury, Conn; a week at Chautauqua Institute in Western New York with my sister and her kids; almost two weeks in and around family in Chicago; back to the Adirondacks in Westport, New York.

The kids and I have done extensive lugging. When they returned from Quinipet, I went to our apartment basement and emptied each suitcase, then when their laundry was clean, I refilled each suitcase. The next day we left again. They have been living out of those big, bright suitcases for two months now.

On this trip, we also invented the ONO bag, the “One Night Only” bag. (And whenever we mention ONO, we sing that song, “One Night Only”.) In the ONO bag, there’s a toothbrush, a bathing suit, PJs, and a clean change of clothes for the next day. This is the bag you take into a hotel after a day on the road, like at those hotel stops in Binghamton, New York; Toledo, Ohio; and Erie, Penn.

When the kids and I went to Italy almost three years ago, each child had their own backpack. We checked no bags on the flight. By the end of our ten days, Charlottte’s light blue sweat pants were streaked with mud. We so needed a hot laundry cycle and I had hoped for that when we finally visited my cousin in Ravenna. But the electrical wiring in her house probably couldn’t handle our filthy loads. Any way, I felt it was an imposition to ask. Note to self, pack dark pants next time instead of light.

It is necessary to unpack, do laundry, and pack when you travel. Sometimes when I return from work travel, I leave the rolling bag untouched for days – even, yes, weeks. Maybe I hate to say good bye to a trip.

After you pack, eventually, you have to unpack. I don’t mind the former, I don’t like the latter. Because that means the trip is over. The only consolation is that soon you can travel again. I hate to end a trip without having another coming up soon.

I will go to the Taize community in the South of France in October, the whole family will go to Akumal in Mexico for Christmas. These are good trips to anticipate.

Because the upcoming trips are international, I have to return to the one bag travel, just the necessities – dark pants, toothbrush, layers.

I have to enlist the children today. They have to help pack and unpack. They have to carry the load.

Summer is almost over.

I hate it, but we have to do it. We have to pack up and unpack this summer road trip before we can pack for the next.

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