NOT JUST FOR FISH, REALLY
I want to go so many places. I stay here and watch travel documentaries and read guidebooks and collect luggage that collects dust. It’s beautiful luggage, some filled with yarn or old photographs, so it doesn’t seem to mind staying put. Someday, the weekender case will creatively clothe me for a week, and the train case will get to ride on a train again. It enjoyed its trips to Chicago and Champaign once upon a time, when train cases were decidedly less cool than they are today. A train case is called a train case for a reason: it can carry any little thing I ever needed to make the going a little more beautiful and event-ish. Going someplace is a celebration and a luxury, so I pack appropriately and selfishly lightly if I am to carry my own bags.
When I go, I am prepared to adapt and enjoy whatever happens in the New Place, whether it’s an hour away or a day. I pack snacks and good pillows for the car or a single deliciously perfect blanket for the plane, as comprehensive a first aid kit as the law allows, and as good an attitude as I can muster.
I can muster a damned fine attitude when it’s time to go. Good snacks and pillows help maintain it, and a first aid kit just makes me feel better about being far from the home medicine cabinet’s reassuring presence. Got a splinter? I’ve got you covered. Car sick? Get the kit. Bored? You must be crazy. We’re on a trip!
My small person likes to go, too. She’s as enthusiastic as her mother, never caring where, but only how long the trip will last. She prefers short drives and long stays, and planes over automobiles. I haven’t put her on a train yet, but she’ll love it. I haven’t put her in a tent yet, because she thinks she might hate it. She won’t. Her nature is firmly stuck in enjoyment and positivity. She likes campfires and beaches and trees, so sleeping sort of out-of-doors shouldn’t be too uncomfortable, right?
When asked why she won’t like tent life, she speaks of hot showers and real mattresses being more her speed. Maybe her early experiences with heated indoor pools in winter have influenced her more deeply than I understand. My first hotel stay happened at fourteen, hers at four.
She likes to be comfortable, but so do I. Sleeping in a tent, for me, is an exercise in bringing luxury to an unexpected place. Quilts, curtains, rugs, and candlesticks all have important places among the standard sleeping bag-cast iron skillet-stormproof match requirements. I can rough it, no problem, but smoothing over the edges makes things more fun. Packing lightly can bug off when I don’t need to carry my life’s temporary possessions from baggage carousel to taxi to hotel to airport to home. My tent usually resembles something from the Camel smoking lounge at Lollapalooza circa 1992 or ‘3.
This summer, we have a trip to a campground in the works. We will have a cabin that’s nicer than most of my lifetime’s history of rented houses, thanks to my mother’s good taste and generosity and deep dislike of roughing it. There’s a screened porch, where I expect to spend most of my time. There’s a fire pit in the back yard and if last year is any indication, the trees will be full of singing birds by five a.m. Sleeping on porches makes me happy. I wonder if I can get away with it this year?
Last summer, two different week-long trips took me out of civilization in the month of June. The first would have included a very nice, anachronistic, and (in?)appropriately Victorian table service in our rain shelter, if the trailer’s hatch hadn’t come unhinged on Highway 55 just north of Springfield. I hope someone with a metal detector hit the jackpot after we left our trail of flattened tea pots and gallery trays and sugar spoons. Spot price was higher then, too. The second trip lacked the cargo space of the first so it lacked the hastily replaced camping silver, and will again this year, but I can certainly get away with one little train case that may hold beauty products, Mom, or may hold things that make life more beautiful.
I’m not telling, but I suspect that the small people will enjoy eating their s’mores with fish forks.