It has to be one of the raptures of traveling; that is, packing for the trip. Getting ready to go. Preparing to leave. Commencing the last minute preparations to initiate the formal departure. One hears the repeated promise to “pack lighter this time”, an error we never manage to overcome. But packing remains by any standard the critical introduction to a journey, digging out those special secreted fashions and accessories which have faded away in the recesses of the closet from the last trip. It’s fun too just reminding oneself of the various bags one has for travel, one for the shorter part of the journey, another for when you get there, one for only documents, credit cards and keys. Some are made of canvass; others leather; some have become antique and useless. Now we might require special luggage just for a computer, tablet, smart phone and electronic watch; plus their various charging wires. And inevitably you start to rethink it all, removing this and that, or putting in an extra pair of socks. Packing is a venture of its own!
There is no denying that abandoning an apartment is far easier than withdrawing from a house. One of the last time’s I left a house when traveling – in fact the very day that I departed – the furnace backed up, dispersing an almost imperceptible cloud of unexpended carbon throughout the entire house. When I returned home, the insurance adjuster meaningfully illustrated the problem merely by dragging his hand along the front picture window. His palm was black with a film of soot! The cost of cleaning the grand piano alone was $7,500. The rest of the house required a complete cleanse, top to bottom, it took days and days and cost in excess of $25,000. When at last I was asked to sign the completion form, it was only a year later that I discovered the reason all my mechanical clocks were growling and stopping – the insides were laden with congestive black soot. By that time however it was too late to recover insurance for which I had already mistakenly signed off. At least in apartments the only similar threat is water damage. Historically we have had our housekeeper check the apartment every second or third day (now not so much because the insurer no longer requires it but we still want have the mail collected and the place regularly inspected to satisfy our own lingering curiosity).
The misery of selecting the appropriate apparel for a vacation is traditionally redundant. It is not uncommon upon arriving at one’s destination that the first stop after the grocery store is a peek into the local clothing retailers exhibiting the latest exciting garments expressive of the subtropical climate. There is nothing like a fresh sea breeze to inspire an inviting bit of linen. And every trip away from home invites a new beginning, a crisp look, a new start.
The overwhelming sartorial conviction is however as frequently preceded by a late afternoon luncheon miles afore hand, back on home territory, at the local pub (Barley Mow in this instance) along the river where the unvarnished visceral dedication is to the French onion soup, the house specialty fish ‘n chips with sweet potato fries, a draught of Sober Sailor followed by the utterly delectable and hopelessly devilish Stacked Carrot Cake (with a glass of milk). After this the extra pair of socks is completely irrelevant! But the catharsis is entire!