Packing as Emotional Wringer/Roller-coaster/[insert cliche of choice here]

You know those recurring dreams about showing up for a test in high school and then realizing you never studied for it?  Or the one where you have to make a speech, or teach a class, or turn in a paper but you were not informed until just a few minutes ago so you have nothing prepared?

I have those dreams.  But I also have “packing dreams.”  Do you?  They are so boring.  Sure, in the dream I feel a little stressed, because the scenario usually includes a time crunch before a scheduled departure or something similar. The consistent theme, however, is simply that I am packing and that it is taking much longer than it should, and also it is really, really, exceedingly boring.

My husband teases me for these dreams, in which I am going through the motions of packing a suitcase with the contents of an overflowing dresser, struggling to fit it all in.  Or maybe it is the gathering of all those “last-minute” items that need to go into the carry-on.  The discovering of more and more drawers that I still need to empty before we can leave the apartment, or hotel, if we want to reach the train station on time.

These are interminable, mind-numbing torture dreams and I feel relieved when I finally wake up. Relieved because, on most regular days, I don’t actually have any packing to do in the real, wide-awake world.  Phew.  Of course, the problem is that in the real, wide-awake world, packing is very stressful.  Yes, in the moment it does seem interminable and torturous, and of course, Boring.

But here is where Dream Life diverges from Real Life: more than just tedious busy work, packing is difficult, deeply personal, and deeply emotional work. You finally have to part with the baby clothes that have been taking up much too much space in boxes in closets for much too much time.  Unused wedding gifts from over a decade ago from dear friends also need to go… Unsorted photos that are stuffed into boxes and never organized need clearing out, or at least to be pared down and labeled.


baby ocean
Evidently the earliest version of me loved the ocean already…


Folks: this is the stuff of a true, full-throttle identity crisis.  Revisiting old friendships and long-ago events, saying “see ya soon” to the friends right here right now, plus getting some up-close footage of your Past Self.  Right smack in the middle of planning for the Future You who is Trying to Prepare to Head Off to New and Still-Unknown Things, dangit.


Take a minute.  Slow down…way down.  Deep breaths, a good long run, a good tall cold beer.

Hey, at least this part isn’t boring.

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