Monday, January 02, 2012

Runinng Away from Home? Not Even Possible.

You never know how much you do until you try to leave.  That's probably obvious for people who work in a regular office, but I've never done much regular anything, so this discovery is pretty major for me. 

I've been preparing to embark on a cultural learning experience to Mexico with some friends.  I will be gone for 12 days, the longest and furthest I have ever been away from my family.  And while I've been finishing correcting papers, teaching these last two classes, making arrangements, organizing, packing and communicating for the past week, I still will need to wrap up loose ends before the plane takes off.

I'm not saying I cannot be replaced, but when it comes to household duties, I take care of a lot of things that I worry might fall through the cracks when I am gone.  For example, who's going to remember to make our elder cat eat at least four times a day?  Will anyone else be successful at getting his thyroid pill down his throat?  He tried biting during my husband's practice effort today.  Is that an omen?  Who will make sure vegetables are being cooked and consumed and that junk food doesn't make up the a-la-carte menu every evening?  Will the dogs get fresh water each morning?  Will appointments be kept?  Will there be enough socks?  Will the laundry pile finally grow teeth and eat anything living?  And how about those bills I take care?  The bank balances?  The checks that need to be deposited?  Any idea how many trips I had to make to the pharmacy to make sure all medications were refilled before I fly off on this adventure?

I'm not saying it's not worth the trouble, and I'm not complaining.  It's just that I wasn't really prepared for this different kind of stress.  People who travel a lot must have a system, but I don't, and if I ever get to do something this major again, the system I have created will be forgotten or outdated. 

I remember when I was a teenager and wanted to take off for the weekend.  I would throw a few things in a bag and be done with it.  Then, after I was married, I would double check to make sure my husband hadn't forgotten anything.  When I had kids, even getting out the door was an endurance test--bottles, diapers, changes of clothing, booties always being kicked off, spit up, blankets, car seats, strollers--it's a wonder I ever went anywhere.  The one time I tried camping with the kids when they were babies was the last time.  More current--pack for my husband and myself, pack for the animals, make sure the cats have food, water and fresh litter.  Don't forget medications or the camera.  But this trip, hands down, wins first place for logistical demands.

A few weeks after I turned 18, I moved out of my parents' house.  I packed everything I owned in my 1966 Mustang and still had space left over.  A few years later, when a boyfriend and I moved into an apartment together, we took two trips with both our small cars.  Then, when I had to move with my kids, it took friends with pick-up trucks.  When I moved with my husband and kids, it took a moving van.  If we ever have to move out of this place...I don't even want to think about it. 

I'm not sure how my life ever got this complex.  It kind of snuck up on me.  I feel like things should still be simple because I don't feel old and overly responsible, and often, I feel I am not productive enough.  Probably I should give myself a big old hug for getting as much done as I do.  And if I run out of underwear in Mexico, there's always soap and a sink. 
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