So when people say, “oh, you’re an expert at packing by now!” they don’t realize that there’s an eleventh hour clause. That is, the presumed packing expertise doesn’t kick in until the very last minute, when you realize your flight is at 8 am instead of 11 am and your shoes weigh more than you thought. No matter how organized the packing progress begins, it always ends with stashing and cramming (the goal is to pack the random junk tightly enough into the little nooks and crannies that you don’t have to sit on the luggage to zip. That’s the goal.) Besides, how the heck does one pack for two years in a coastal tropical zone with monsoon seasons and occasional trips to the snowy mountains, with maybe some side trips to the Amazon jungle and Macchu Picchu? Hence the perpetual feeling I’m forgetting something.
My incredible support system showed up for the fun: my parents tuned in via Skype to provide moral support I didn’t realize I needed. It’s funny how parents know that stuff. The most amazing part here is that they got on Skype at 4 am their time—and stayed with me until the end! My daddy is an incredible photographer, and he had carefully wrapped all the batteries, chargers and lenses for me—including two chargers for every electronic, because last summer I left my only camera charger in the most remote village in Argentina…oops. Live and learn! My mama has patiently called pharmacies, insurance agencies, cell phone companies and banks to help me get everything done. I don’t know what I would do without these two.
While I rolled t-shirts and stuffed Ziploc bags full of vitamins and toothpaste, my dear, sweet, unstoppable aunt packed me a lunch. She artfully applied almond butter to celery sticks, carefully arranged a beautiful bunch of grapes, chose vegetables and nuts and packed it all so that it wouldn’t die in my backpack. By the end of the packing, she had fallen asleep on the couch with a carton of Portobello mushrooms on her lap (“what can I make with these for your lunch?”) and I had eaten half the gorgeous grape arrangement. I tried to herd her to bed, but she insisted on packing a pinch of salt in tin foil and hand wipes—and guess which were the best parts of my lunch today?
Now all that junk is down below (total weight: 92 pounds, including a load of granola bars and oreos), I’m free to drink airplane coffee and blog to the Weepies.
I’m really curious about the other people in my PC group. They haven’t told us how many of us there are, or where we’re all from. I’m guessing there’s going to be a variety of backgrounds. Just among the five of us who already found each other via Facebook, we’re from both sides of the country and our degrees range from education to sociology. I wonder if most of our group is recently graduated, or if there will be people with master’s in education or even teaching careers under their belts. I wonder if anyone else is bringing a musical instrument. My ukulele sounds a lot better with something else to drown out my pickings! It’s a little bit like the first day of school. Will they like me? Will anyone sit with me at lunch? What if I know that we all have some basic things in common already: we’re all pretty dedicated to our work, we’re all travelers, we’re all going to be teachers and we’re all brave enough to leave the U.S. for two years!
I’m excited but I feel like I still need a bit of time—for what, I don’t know, but I don’t feel quite ready. I don’t have my big girl pants on…I’m more in the yoga pants stage this week.
Tonight, four of us get in at the same time, so we’re planning to meet in the baggage claim and catch a shuttle to our hotel. Tomorrow is a meet-and-greet and orientation, where we’ll introduce ourselves and talk about safety and security (again.) We’re off for the night, then we ship out Wednesday morning!