CIMG1026 I have a lot of baggage when it comes to packing (pun totally intended – I am an Etheredge after all).  Now normally I am totally willing to shoulder the blame for my crazy behavior, and I am willing to concede that my need for everything to be a certain way has added to the packing issues, but some of this is on my folks.

My parents worked amazingly hard to provide Laura and me opportunities to travel in a way that would be fun and educational.  They encouraged us to be curious about new places and experiences.  They demanded that we sample all food that was put in front of us, even if it was a whole fish that looked creepy.  Mom and Dad basically taught us that “different is interesting”, and that to be a good citizen of the world a person must have an open mind, and be willing to look at things from a different point of view.  I think this is one of the greatest gifts that my parents gave me.  The skills I learned by traveling with them, and hosting exchange students CONSTANTLY inform my decisions and my interactions with other people.  Being rational about packing, was not a skill that I picked up from traveling with my parents

Here is the basic scenario: my mom would do laundry about two weeks before a trip, and declare, “this is the last time I am doing laundry before we leave.  You can wear the stuff you want to take with you, but if you get it dirty, I am not washing it again!”  This caused Laura and me to wear our oldest, rattiest clothes for the two weeks prior to leaving, so that we could have our nice clothes for the trip.  It never occurred to me to violate this laundry directive.  I have no idea if Mom would have caved and washed the nice clothes.  I suspect she might have since she was pretty invested in Laura and I looking nice, but now we will never know.

My dad on the other hand would completely ignore not only the laundry directive, but also the need to pack at all until the very last minute.  There is a famous Mercado family story about a particularly spectacular instance of this dichotomy, and if you have never heard about the Mercado trip to Vienna in the summer of 1990, please ask me about it!

After Joey and I got married, and I began traveling for work, the packing issues manifested.  I would try to ignore the need to pack before a work trip, but would wind up completely freaked out because I had not done laundry for the trip two weeks before the departure date!  This led to lots of late-night, panic-stricken laundry and packing sessions.  Joey actually began watching The Hunt for Red October every time I was packing in order to escape the chaos.  After awhile, the packing ritual became so frequent that I did not have time for the freak out, or that was the only thing I did while I was at home!  Packing issues defeated through routine and repetition, or so I thought…

About two weeks ago I did laundry, and rather than put the clothes away, I began laying them out on the guest room bed.  I started to add things to the pile as I ran across them.  Every couple of days I would go in and survey the pile, and make adjustments.  Joey and I have agreed that we will only take about five days worth of clothes (do not worry, we will be doing laundry during our trip) and I carefully adjusted and readjusted what five tops I was taking.  I tried them on with the pants and skirt that I had selected to make sure that all variations worked well.  I swapped out sweaters and jackets trying to pick the best combination.

Then it hit me, after years of railing about my mother packing two weeks in advance, I was doing the same thing!  To my credit, I have not been hyper or insane about the packing, and I actually feel quite confident that I have everything that I need, but nothing more.  Maybe I learned a few good things about packing from my parents after all!  Of course, Joey hasn’t begun his packing at all… maybe I should do some laundry.

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