As we prepare to leave for our next adventure to the Utah national parks (with a detour to the Grand Canyon-North Rim), I’ve had an epiphany. I now know why I am always so excited to arrive at our destination. Our arrival signifies that we have survived the frenzy of vacation preparation which, in our house, goes something like this:
(1) My husband and I yell at the kids to start packing their suitcases. We then yell at each other for yelling at the kids. This vicious cycle continues for at least 24-48 hours and we all lose our voices. And yet Chloe still manages to forget a few things. And then she blames us. Because we yelled too much and she couldn’t concentrate on her packing.
(2) When I see that my husband has dumped a bunch of miscellaneous toiletries into a plastic Target bag, which is itself unceremoniously dumped into his suitcase, I throw up in my mouth a little bit. My OCD kicks in and I reach for the miraculous invention called a packing cube. Dumping the miscellaneous toiletries into a rectangular blue packing cube has the calming effect of making me feel organized.
(3) Sophie inevitably asks if she can bring her towels (i.e., her version of a security blanket) and her personal trio of talismen: Shirley the lamb, Bone-Bone the dog and Uni the unicorn. I try to turn my head to roll my eyes in private. I fail and suffer Sophie’s wrath for disrespecting her and her precious lovies. I feel guilty, put on a fake smile and say, in my sweetest possible voice, “If you can find room in your backpack, of course you can take them.” Sophie would never allow her prized possessions to travel in her suitcase in the cargo hold. And because I suffer from passive-aggressive tendencies that will likely scar my girls for life, I add, “But you’re going to have to be very careful not to lose them during our trip.” To which she responds with an emphatic eye-roll of her own and then a frown as she realizes I was being mean. Listen, we haven’t read “Knuffle Bunny Free” a million times for nothing. That was a calculated purchase on my part. While Shirley, Bone-Bone and Uni can conceivably live forever if she doesn’t leave them on a plane, her towels are hanging on by a thread, literally.
(4) This is our first time going away as dog owners. Truffle will be spending his vacation in the town adjacent to ours, staying with a lovely retired couple who will spoil him rotten. I spent an hour last night preparing his suitcase. It consists of 34 Ziploc bags of individual portions of his food (the best way to prevent overfeeding is for me to control the portion size – 150 grams per bag), his favorite treats (he has a sensitive stomach), some probiotics in case he misses us and his resulting anxiety manifests itself in his crap (yes, probiotics are just as healthy for dogs as they are for us humans), his comb and ear cleaning wipes (Truffle is a bit vain), a year’s supply of poop bags (you can never have too many) and some of his favorite toys.
(5) My husband is in charge of gathering all of the electronic shit we’ll require for our trip. All the devices. All the chargers. All the headphones. A whole damn duffel bag worth of cables and plugs so that we have a distraction if we get bored communing with nature. I made a last-minute run to REI yesterday and found myself guiltily confessing to the outdoorsy store employee who was helping me that “we’re staying in hotels. We’re not camping.” To which he responded, “that’s ok!” His sweet disposition prompted me to vocalize my insecurities some more. “I need a backpack large enough for water, a camera, snacks…oh, and you know, our phones.” [Said in a whisper she thinks no one will hear]. Because when we’re in the middle of hiking the Narrows in Zion or hiking the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park, I may need to check my Facebook page, or my Twitter activity, or set Sophie up with a video when she’s sick of hiking. The REI employee was very kind. He nodded his head in fake sympathy and tried to assuage my guilt by shrugging his shoulders and saying, “It is 2014, you know.” I can only imagine what he and his colleagues say about customers like me (i.e., the great outdoors interlopers) after their shifts end.
Come to think of it, I’m not sure we’ll survive this trip intact. We’re suburban/city folks. Where we’re from, nature is an ant hill on a sidewalk, barking dogs, squirrels scampering away from aforementioned barking dogs and the stray deer that was grazing on a neighboring yard a couple of weeks ago. We don’t hike, except to the nearest restaurant. It’s forecast to hit 100+° in Zion. We may very well melt. But at least we’ll melt against a backdrop of beautiful scenery.
We’re almost done yelling at each other. Let the vacation begin!