EVERYTHING AND A STICK
Let’s get in the car and go. Everything can wait. We’ll take them along, our beloveds. The cat even likes a drive.
Pack one bag. We can get the rest where we land, and not bother with the what-ifs. If the weather is wet, we’ll find ponchos. If it’s hot, we’ll just wear less of whatever we packed. Let’s stay out of the cold, okay?
I have everything ready in my head, everything we need to be gone for as long as we want to be gone. I know where to get it all, from shelter to a stove to comfortable places to sleep. Everything hides somewhere in this very house, or at least in the basement of another.
Give me time to gather, please, before you announce your desire to move along. The vehicle will hold everything and then some. We are in no hurry. Choose carefully what you really need for sincere comfort and pleasure, and I will handle the big picture stuff.
Bring your own pillow. I can’t pick a pillow for anyone but myself, can you? My own mother can’t understand what makes a good pillow good to me, and I don’t know why my own daughter likes the pillow she needs every night.
Do you have a bear or a doggie or a piggy? We’ll need those friends, too. The real dog will want his blankie, now that he’s chosen a blankie. The cats require places to sleep and places to poop and possibly a great deal of catnip to stay mellow.
Travel, for me, means movement. Arrival ends travel, unless something waits for us, someone wants to see us, and we are expected. To be expected and happily anticipated is a blessing.
Even without a destination, the art of moving from place to place feels like a gift. New things to see out the windows are gifts. Strange trees, surprising views, shocking smells through the open windows will make us happy.
Consider carefully what you would put into your own bag, while we wait here under this roof. In my backpack, I will carry scarves and dresses and the softest sweater I can find. I require a good hat, a Tilley if I have my pick, and more than one swimsuit. Do you need a favorite pair of jeans, or will we skirt around the cold and damp? In winter, I dream of a place without cold or damp, and blue jeans are punishment. I choose something looser, with pockets, if I must wear pants at all.
Also in my bag goes a blank, big book and pencils. A glue stick is essential for maps and leaves. If space allows, I like the big stick for balancing when I walk in slippery places. I’ve fallen enough for a lifetime, and my walking stick might as well be a security blanket. Shells and rocks must come home as precious souvenirs in the smallest of quantities, and sometimes they stink. Ziplock baggies solve that problem. What other oddities make us feel at home away from home? How about a soprano recorder? I think we all know a song or two, and maybe one of us will remember how to read sheet music, to expand our playlist.
The picnic blanket stays in the car always, with the corkscrew and the cutting board and the kettle. You carry a kettle, too? So, you understand.
Those things and a very sharp knife make life on the road livable and pleasurable. I have traveled alone and with companions; a good companion changes a trip into a holiday, while a bad companion turns the road to anywhere into hell.
I know who needs more space than the cabin of the biggest van can provide, and they stay home or meet me there, now. I’ve also learned who causes a need for separate hotel rooms or a separate tent on the other side of the campsite. In a way, these are good fences that make good “neighbors”, and make the morning after so much more pleasant. If you snore, you’re on your own at bedtime, unless you snore so adorably that the sound makes me giggle in the middle of the night. You know who you are.
Winter and school and work keep us here, for now. Summer seems far, far away, but when it comes, let’s get in the car and go. We can decide where to go when we get into the car, and feel adventurous and spontaneous and wealthy in our janky little Jeep, because we’ll be together.
And we’ll have everything, just like we do now. We have so much of everything, because have Us.
And a backpack.