Confessions of an Agoraphobic, Hodophobic, Suitcase Stuffer

As I wrote about in my last post, I am leaving for a sixteen day trip to Belgium in four days. Four days. Gone sixteen days. Dear God. I just broke out in welts thinking about it. The key to surviving a big trip like this? Packing light. Easy, right?

I’m in deep doo doo.

My official suitcase inspector…

I can leave home to go to work, to the store- no problem. But…a real trip involving travel and sleeping away from home? Oh, lord, my anxiety spikes. Agoraphobia kicks in. So does hodophobia (fear of travel). I begin packing weeks in advance, armed with the latest packing tips from travel guru Rick Steves. I buy every packing cube and vacuum bag that I can find. I roll my clothes just like the videos. I am a lean, mean, packing machine, and I swear I will follow his advice to the letter. I will be one of those carefree travelers who has one small carry-on and breezes out the door into the sunlight when we land, smiling sadly at those weary plebeians huddled en mass around the luggage carousel.

“However, comma,” as a good friend says, that’s not my story. Rick Steves tells me two pairs of shoes. Okay, but maybe one more pair of shoes won’t hurt. Oh, and I may need that other pair, too. “Never bring something you won’t wear at least three times.” Dude- I’m going to be in Europe, not Wetumpka, Alabama. I can’t walk around in musty, wrinkled clothes on a rare European adventure! I might as well be wearing curlers and a terry cloth robe, pushing a cart around Walmart.

And then reality strikes; I am no fashionista- I’m a geeky clarinet player. I do want to look nice and have the things that make me comfortable and feel good, but no one cares what I’ll be wearing. Oh- and here’s a cool thing I discovered on my trip to Italy (yep- the same trip where I lugged a suitcase the size of a coffin over cobblestone streets and into planes, trains, and automobiles for eleven days); they have stores and laundromats in Europe! I know! They have many of the same brands that we see on our shelves in the Good ol’ U.S.of A. I will survive.

My Rick Steves training doesn’t quite work for this trip; it’s not just a joyful romp through the land of chocolate, waffles, and beer. I’m attending and performing at an international conference, so I need to look professional and have to bring my instrument, my computer to type notes (I’m Secretary of the Board), and other things that I wouldn’t normally take on a vacation. I even have to help carry plaques that will be presented at the conference. I at least need to remember that I don’t have to make costume changes like Beyonce- I just need to be reasonably presentable. ‘Reason’ needs to prevail, please God.

While my husband (who will casually throw his suitcase together about twenty minutes before we leave for the airport) sleeps peacefully, I am up pacing, going over my lists, checking the contents of my suitcase. A suitcase that already looks like it’s pregnant or like I’m going to Siberia for two months. There must be something I’m forgetting! What if I get to Belgium and run out of conditioner?!

Please, someone save me from myself.

Aside from the packing issues, there’s the thought of leaving these guys:

And even this evil one:

Somehow it will all work out. I will get the house and yard to perfection status by Saturday so that Sunday will be a peaceful day lounging around eating bonbons until time for our flight. The animals will be pristinely clean and not a strand or tumbleweed of dog hair will be on the floor to greet our wonderful house sitter.

Or more realistically, I will spend three more sleepless nights agonizing over last minute details that I’ve been working on for over a month already, my dang suitcase will still send me into traction even after all the careful planning, and my husband will have to physically remove me from my death grip on the dogs as we try to walk out the door.

Either way, Belgium, here we come! And even if I get there and have to wear musty, wrinkled outfits a few times- there is always medicinal Belgian chocolate, waffles, and beer to soften the blow. I think I’ll be okay. Maybe.


7 thoughts on “Confessions of an Agoraphobic, Hodophobic, Suitcase Stuffer

  1. I love the “biting clarinet” face/photo! You can be such a humorist! I’m glad Dan will be with you to help soothe your anxieties. House, home, and hearts (canine and feline) will miss you, but they will be well cared for. And who knows, maybe with Shiva the old expression, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”, will apply! Try to enjoy your trip…I know you, and the A. Duo will “play pretty”. 😎💞

    1. Thanks so much, Jan. No Amicitia Duo this time around. I’ll be playing a piece for clarinet and soprano written for my colleague and me by Lori Laitman.

      1. Oh..In the latest ICA journal, I thought I saw the Duo listed as performing. Well, I’m sure you and the others in your group, as well as so many wonderful musicians in attendance, will perform magnificently. Just remember to have fun!! You deserve it!

  2. I was chuckling a little as I read this but the last photo sent me into peals of laughter! I am sure you will be fine. Try to enjoy your adventure! The last trip I took (to Cincinnati, OH) I realized I’d over packed by at least 4 days…The struggle is real!

    1. Ahh, my sister in wardrobe preparedness! 😂 I know that before I leave I will unpack and pack at least twice more in an effort to cut back on the number of outfits. Sigh. 😂

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