Everyone has at least one talent and one of mine is…packing it in.

None of this!!

Possibly I inherited this talent genetically from my mother, who may be one of the few people ever to have gotten the better of the movers, albeit through no purposeful effort of her own.  Before their move to Arizona from Nebraska, my parents were given an estimate, but the movers admitted later that they’d rather underestimated the amount of things there were to move because my mom had things packed so cunningly as to appear less than the actual amount, not on purpose, I hasten to add, but just because that’s how she does things.

Perhaps it has some mathematical or geometrical side, things that I was good at in school, although I stopped at trigonometry, deciding I probably would never have to figure out the distance across a stream based on the shadow cast by a tree.  In case you’re wondering, I never have.  I switched my interest to sociology at that point, making it a second minor along with English lit.  But I liked the logic and cleanness of math.

Wherever I got it, the ability to pack is a seemingly mundane talent with plenty of useful applications.  Between my junior and senior years in college, I went backpacking with an acquaintance to Europe for almost a year.  My pack was a masterpiece of packing, so much so that after the first days of carrying it, I sent a number of things home to lighten the load.  🙂

In the 70’s, facing a drive from Greeley, Colorado to Cleveland, Ohio to my new job teaching at a Lutheran high school, my dearly-loved, 1974 yellow VW Super Beetle (with sunroof), named Sundance, carried so much that it appeared magic was somehow involved when I unpacked.  The hanger of the hanging pot in which resided a plant (which still grows in our house) given to me by a friend , stuck out the top of the sunroof and everything else was tucked either inside or in the trunk, at that time found in the front of the car.  Needless to say, I had to borrow or buy furniture when I arrived!  I’m not that good!

Looks a lot like Sundance.

Family and friends have utilized my packing skills and our younger daughter shows much promise as the amount of items pulled out of her suitcase on her return from France (analogous to the amount of food the Chinese restaurant packs into one small white pint or quart waxed box) shows.  She may also be the only person I know in the recent years of pay-for-overweight who has ever made it back without paying for a patently overweight suitcase!  However, my best packing/organizational story is one of the coming together of rescue, organization and calmness.

One of my sisters-in-law was planning to visit another sister who lives in Provence.  The morning before she was scheduled to leave, my phone rang and on the other end was a completely frantic woman.  “I just called Paula and told her I was going to have a manicure (or whatever) this morning and she said, ‘What do you mean?  You’re leaving today!'”  Panic stations!!  Would I come down, pick up her little dog and take it to her mom’s so she could try to get ready to leave?

Yeah, it was a lot like this. 🙂

I could do better than that!  Donning my Superpackingwoman cape, I leaped in my trusty van (I can pack but not fly, unfortunately), younger daughter in tow, and sped the 40 minutes or so to her apartment.  When we arrived, she was surrounded by piles of clothing, gifts, and all sorts of detritus, still in her nightgown, moving from room to room carrying random bits of clothing to not much effect.  I  saw that a serious intervention was needed if we were to get her on that plane, so I took ruthlessly took charge: packing things into every corner of her suitcases, unsparingly winnowing clothes that had only one use or partner, rolling up clothing and tucking it away.  In record time, not only was the maximum amount compacted into the minimum space, she’d also had her shower, organized her purse and was (almost) ready to go.  After a stop at the bank (where to my dismay, she had to actually to into the bank, always a dubious procedure from which one might not emerge for weeks), we rocketed to the airport, although adhering to the speed limit, and even got her there the requisite two hours in advance for an international flight.  The bichon safely delivered to my mother-in-law’s house, my daughter and I returned from our whirlwind adventure and laughed ourselves silly…which we could do because the whole process had been successful!   My sister-in-law, who has been know to travel with so many suitcases that she can barely handle them all, made it over with the best packed suitcases anyone in her family had ever seen and our family had a story for the ages.

(Amusing sidebar–Spellcheck evidently doesn’t recognize the word “bichon” and suggested that it should be instead “bison.”  Had that been the case, this story might have had a very different ending!!  I love Spellcheck!!)

More of this!

My next packing event will be for our annual vacation to Wyoming.  I can’t wait to pack it in!!  And you’re invited to come along, of course.  Don’t worry; you won’t have to pack a thing except your laptop or tablet.

  1. billgncs says:

    your spatial abilities are off the charts. 🙂

  2. I need a “Superpackingwoman cape”…urgent..where to buy? I pack up everything, but unfortunately always wrong things :o(

    • Mine’s so old I don’t remember where I bought it! 🙂 If I run across another one, I’ll send it over. However, it can be a learned skill, so maybe I should come for a visit and do some personal packing training workshops!!

  3. ps. I was a”Beetle Girl” too, was a gray “Grampy” named Snail – can you guess why?

  4. Gilly Gee says:

    You could make a career out of these skills!

  5. Somer says:

    I have no such skills. I’m going to transport you via space portal next time I go on vacation!

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