Unpacking after a trip, or not | Home Again

By Joanne Peterson | Mar 08, 2019

I enjoy packing for a trip. I know other people who enjoy that task, too, and I know some who say they dislike it, totally. As to people who enjoy unpacking after they return home, I don’t recall meeting any of them.

Unless I walk straight into my home and put my suitcase directly onto my bed, there is no guarantee that the thing won’t sit in the entry hall for several days, stuffed with dirty socks and T-shirts, souvenirs I’ve already forgotten about, the book I didn’t finish reading, and a fat envelope of brochures and maps, which I might never miss.

Occasionally, I open the suitcase to root around in it for sandals or a jacket I suddenly want to wear – although I was so tired of them two weeks earlier that I never wanted to see them again.

Once I went a week without my favorite walking shoes because I didn’t have the heart for finding their plastic bag in the suitcase and taking them outside to knock off the dried mud or sand they acquired from walking through a pasture or along a shoreline somewhere.

Anyway, I’m sure I’m not the only one who isn’t as careful about packing for the trip home as she was about packing before beginning her travels. I think unpacking afterwards just seems sad.

Recently, I packed for a relatively short trip, a trip I wasn’t going to mention to my cat Mocha until the day I left. I decided that it’s unkind to make her worry for several days about why I appear to be preparing to take my possessions and go somewhere without her.

I just can’t look into her blue eyes without reading in them her confusion and concern. Why would I be leaving? Where would I be going? Would I plan to return? Worst of all, would I be going away because I didn’t love her anymore?

When I packed for my latest trip, I opted for my backpack and a tote bag – I really don’t like checking bags on planes, even when there’s no charge for them. Baggage claim definitely is not one of my favorite parts of an airport.

Thinking about Mocha’s tendency to worry, I took my backpack from the closet while she was napping and placed it in the bathtub, with the shower curtain pulled halfway across. And the rest of the afternoon, I surreptitiously added a rolled-up shirt, a hairbrush, a pair of shoes, whatever I could get past a drowsy cat without alarming her.

Yes, I felt a bit silly leaning around the shower curtain to quickly stuff one more thing into the backpack. But it worked.

Mocha, unlike other cats I have known, fortunately shows little interest in getting into an open suitcase. I’ve had several cats that liked to hop in as soon as the first layer of clothing appeared inside.

Purring mightily and shedding terribly, a cat can cause a pair of black pants fresh from the cleaners to look more as if they came from the humane society. Others have shared with me that their pets – dogs as well as cats – tend to sprawl across the clothing in open suitcases simply to give a clear message: “Take me with you.”

I certainly can’t blame them for wanting to be part of the travel excitement.


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