On Packing


Here’s my story, and I’m sticking to it:

Last summer, when the inimitable Brenda Sparks Prescott invited me to participate in her self-designed writing retreat in the Green Mountains of Vermont, I was so wound up on the morning I was to leave–car troubles, mostly–that I backed out of my garage and ran over my own suitcase.

blue suitcase

This one.  My favorite color.

I suppose it could have a been a lot worse.  I do have pets and children, all of whom know enough to stay out of my way–and all of whom are still alive, you’ll be glad to know.

I was unable to say the same for my little blue suitcase.  Thus, as I am jetting off to the UK once again in a few days, I was forced to purchase yet another little blue suitcase.  One that was not crushed at one end, nor had the cloth torn away from the corners.  But it’s still small; I prefer to travel with as little as possible, since I get on buses and trains and the Underground, and the thought of dragging a full-sized suitcase around behind me is not attractive at all.

So I pack light.  Lots of underwear (“she said underwear!”) and a change or two of clothing.  I’m an expert in finding washing machines, or washing my clothes in sinks.  I think carefully about the clothes I’ll wear on the plane, so I don’t have to put those in the suitcase.  I think versatile.  What pieces can I wear more than once, in a variety of different

teva sandals

Tevas are the best.  Mine are, of course, blue.

combinations?  Is everything I do going to be casual, or will I need something a bit more dressy?  I think small.  I think about wearing a jacket instead of packing sweaters; I think to wear the shoes on the plane and pack the sandals.

This time around, I have to think smaller.  Mostly because, with the publication (Hallelujah!  At last!) of The Book of the Mandolin Player,  I have to bring copies of my book with me to my British friends.  And with books in my bag, there is less room for clothes.  Am I complaining?  No, I’m not.  Because I’ve been looking forward to the day–for more than 25 years now–when I can bring my own novel to my friends, especially the novelist Stephen Benatar, who has given me copies of everything he’s ever published.  Now I can return the favor, for the first time.  Hopefully not the last time.

mandolin player cover 3.16

Copies for Stephen, for John, for Lesley…

The plane leaves day after tomorrow.  I’m making my last trip to the store for provisions this afternoon–batteries and the like.  I’m washing all my clothes tonight so I can lay them out and look at them in order to decide.  And then it’s time to get packing.

Postscript:  I’m picking up some concert stuff while I’m about–Merry Hell and Bellowhead shirts, for example.  But by then, the books will be gone, anyway.

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