Sunday, December 28, 2014

packing + playlists + panic attacks

"I left the baggage home, I brought my luggage in.”

I finished packing a whole ten hours before my 7 AM flight. A personal record, qualified only by the fact that eight of those ten hours should be spent sleeping. I haven’t slept much since starting grad school in July, and I figure that writing a pre-travel blog post might prompt me to do some writing while I’m actually abroad, so I’m up doing that instead, on a platform I haven’t touched since...the drop-down menu to the right says 2012.

In just a few short hours I’m headed to Aarhus, Denmark to participate in a teacher-exchange program. But not before a nine-hour layover in San Francisco. Thank goodness for wonderful friends in and around the city who are willing to wake up early on a Sunday for some fun(day) before the long flight to Copenhagen.

My brother caught me mid-packing in the photo to the right. I sometimes hate (the amount of time spent on) packing, but there is something really amusing about the whole process. What’s amusing is the notion of painting the unknown -- planning, collecting, and stowing the things you may need, or want, for some prescribed window of time in a novel location. Sure, decisions are informed by practical and logical considerations -- weather, for example, or length of stay. But I really only have whimsical imaginings to guide me.

You may, for instance, ask, “A swimsuit?” Yes, temperatures in Denmark average 32 degrees in January. But packing one is more mindset or mentality than function and practicality. It’s symbolic. It's the potential to have use for one. I likely won’t need it but I like the idea of leaving the door open.

“Teacher” or “professional” attire is in the duffle to the right. Romping ‘round Europe gear is in the pack to the left. And every eager student has a sweet backpack.

The book Santa Comes to California is a gift for my host family. They have a 6, an 8, and a 10-year old; two boys and one girl. I hope they like stories. 

Akin to the swimsuit, the little black dress is for New Year’s Eve, maybe. Then I turn 27 at the stroke of midnight. For the first time in my life, I’ve no clue where I’ll be on my birthday (Germany, perhaps?), or with whom I’ll be with (a fellow English-teacher travel buddy, to start). So maybe the LBD is silly. Then again, maybe it isn’t.

There ain’t no rest for the weary (or the wicked), but maybe for the bleary-eyed. My eyes are going cross-eyed from staring at words as they form on the computer screen.

Oh, but also, the quote above is from one of my favorite songs to pack to, “Up in the Air” by Dumbfounded. Another pre-travel favorite is Fashawn’s “Samsonite Man.”

For the sobering holy-moly-this-is-happening moments, when I needed a little more quiet, I put “Make it Rain” by Ed Sheeran (featured on Sons of Anarchy) on repeat. There’s also something oddly calming about “Hanging Tree.”

But I wrote this post to "Riptide" because I’m so excited I could howl at the sliver of a moon. 

I’m not quite sure what the next month in Denmark will bring, but I hope to share more as it unfolds. Feel free to drop me a line, or an address if you’d like a postcard. Wishing you all celebrations and annual starts that are joyous and safe. I will follow suit on my travels.

If nothing else, the last thing my grandma said to me this evening was, “Keep your clothes and take your vitamins.” Thanks, Lolai.

See you all in the New Year,


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