Well hello there, Semi-Material Worlders! I’m back from the land of antibiotics and stuffed nose, neti pot rinsing and wan complexion and bed. I got back on Friday, in fact, from my first business trip in more than two years. (Forty-eight hours in Ottawa, to be exact – and Ottawa in February ain’t pretty.) I’ve managed to avoid work travel for the past three years, and I really couldn’t get out of it – so off I went.
As I pulled my little rollie-suitcase-thing out from under the stairs last Wednesday, I had a revelation: this would be a real opportunity to practice my skills as a Project 333-driven, super-calm minimalist packing ninja. I would bring only what I absolutely required for two full days away from home – no more, no less. I needed to look professional for two full working days; go for a run at some point; take two plane trips; and go to my friends’ place for dinner. So what to pack?
I’m a terrible packer. Nina Yau and Francine Jay I ain’t. I grossly overestimate what I’ll need, and often convince myself that packing knee-high boots AND ankle boots AND heels for a 5-day vacation is totally necessary for fashionable fun and frolic. I bring full-sized bottles of liquid products, because I forget that I can’t, which makes bag(s) heavy, cumbersome, and all-around annoying – and they need to be checked. (Remind me to tell you about the time my best friend and I travelled to New York City to perform with two hula hoops and a bag full of glitter and tutus.) Anyway, fueled by my recent Project 333 freedom, I knew that this time was going to be different.
I open my dresser drawer and inspected its contents, feeling the start of my usual packing anxiety kicking in. Don’t think too hard, I commanded myself. You are a minimalist packing ninja.
Hmmm. I shoved a black skirt, a teal tank top, and a black wool cardigan into my little suitcase. All part of my usual Project 333 work-roster, no big deal. Deep breath. OK, what else? A pair of black tights, rolled into a tight ball. A black print dress. I can wear the dress on Friday at the conference with the cardigan. OK. So far, so good. Jeans? Yes, jeans for the plane with my grey sweatshirt today. But I don’t like wearing plane clothes twice! Planes make everything so grubby. Ech. I need more plane clothes for the return trip. Right. A pair of black leggings and a leopard-print t-shirt – into the suitcase they went. I would wear my black knee-high boots with everything and my parka, scarf and gloves for the crappy weather. My running gear, rolled up – and I was done. Whew. Could it be that easy? I finished the task by stuffing a small cosmetic case with eyeliner, mascara, lip balm, deoderant, and two small containers of shampoo and conditioner. I sighed with satisfaction. Packing had taken me less than 5 minutes, and I had everything I need.
Except, as I discovered when I went to dress on Thursday morning, this minimalist packing ninja had forgotten to pack a couple of key items.
Like, for example, a change of underwear.*
But hadn’t I packed perfectly and precisely? I didn’t fret about which clothes to bring! I was well-dressed and light in spirit! My days of packing-woe were supposed to be behind me!
Damn. Damn. Damn.
Yes, well. You haven’t had an anxious morning until you stand shivering in your beige hotel bathroom, frantically blow-drying your only pair of underwear on High as the clock ticks towards your 9am meeting.
*And OK, also extra socks, facial cleanser, pajamas, and moisturizer. Yep.