I’m one of those last-minute packers. Every trip I resolve to pack earlier, but bad habits die hard. We’re leaving in two days and haven’t done it.
I wish I were more like a cousin—she’s packed a month before. She’s planned down to color-coordinated wear for each day. Unlike me, she wastes no time wondering what to wear when she wakes up away from home. I wouldn’t be surprised if she has a dress rehearsal before each set of clothing is folded into her suitcase. Packing early is definitely ideal; for one thing, one gets plenty of time to remember what one might have forgotten.
A friend joining us is so excitable every time she goes on a trip she can’t sleep. It’s happening again. I recognize the signs. After our regular exercises lately, she’s been falling asleep at postexercise breakfast, in the car, at every chance. Awake, she worries about forgetting anything for the trip; in fact, she’s so sure there’s something, but can’t quite remember and ends up just hoping it’s something she could do without.
She’s not exactly wasting time, either. Although she has chickened out of tattooed eyebrows to inaugurate on this trip, she had her eyebrows “micro-bladed”—a semi-permanent process—her hair colored and nails manicured. She’s as ready as can be, though, like me, she hasn’t packed either. I guess we don’t learn because somehow it gets done, and we do forget something and still manage.
For our nine-day cruise of Japanese port cities, clothes are the least of my worries. I already have a formula: three pairs of pants, five blouses, three dinner dresses, two sweaters, a water-repellent coat, four pairs of socks, a pair each of sneakers and decent black flats.
What is tedious is packing my nightly ablutions—nose spray, eyedrops, White Flower oil and Tiger Balm, eyelid, face and neck, hand and foot cleansers and creams, lip moisturizer, hair thickener and gray-hair root cover, and the ever by my side Vicks ointment and Vicks inhaler. It’s only when I have to pack them that I realize how much stuff goes into my nightly kit, compared to my real lifesaving bag—my two-week supply of maintenance pills, allergy pills, Berocca effervescent tablets and vitamin supplements.
Packing for a trip is when I realize how many nightly rituals in preparation for sleep I go through. Is it my age? Or also a female thing? Or is it my own exclusive thing? Why is it that it now takes me longer to get ready for bed than for me to get ready to go out? Maybe because I hardly wear any makeup at all?
I don’t know that Vergel is a typical senior male in this case; he packs at the last minute yet never forgets anything—actually never forgets anything on a trip to anywhere or even his essentials at home. At the end of the day he bathes, puts on his pajamas, brushes his teeth and after some TV in the living room, comes to bed to read before he sleeps.
We took out the TV in our room many years ago. I’m not much for TV; besides, there’s hardly any local news or commentary worth watching or going at all—I get my news mostly on social media. And I prefer to read in a comfortable chair and during the day. In fact, by the time I’m done with my rituals, I’m too sleepy to read. On trips, after all the walking, I fall asleep easily. But Vergel still finds time and energy for his home habits.
If I hadn’t done it earlier, I’d pray the rosary while my two legs are straight up against the headboard. These are my defensive moves against the battle against aging, which of course I can’t win in the long run—but I intend to prolong that run as much as I can.
I guess even seniors approach travel differently. But I have yet to meet seniors who were ever sorry they took a trip when they did, not only because we aren’t getting any younger, but also because one day there won’t be any place to get excited about except home. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
Even now home is the most relaxed place in the world. It’s always there at the end of a trip, welcoming us back to our routines and habits. Nothing beats its warm familiarity. Indeed, sometimes you just have to take a trip to realize there’s no place like home.