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March 9, 2013

Teenhood Today: Finding a happy medium when packing

The Daily Star

---- — Packing suitcases should be a sport. Think about it. Who can pack a suitcase the fastest, fit the most items inside, and encrypt secret recipes into the lining of the zippers for those times when you’re super hungry and in the middle of a long trek across the desert on a camel’s back? Well, if we made it an Olympic sport, we would know whom to call when we need to pack lots of stuff in a little suitcase.

I can usually fit all my stuff into a small suitcase. I’m very proud of that. The problem occurs when I forget things, and this happens every single time I travel. I’m sure all of you are familiar with that aching feeling in your gut that you forgot something? Well, I usually don’t get that until I’m past the point of no return. And let me tell you, pilots usually won’t turn the airplane around just because you forgot your fuzzy socks.

The most common thing that I forget pretty much every time I go anywhere, including a one-night stay somewhere, is my contact lens case and solution. And it’s always a bummer. The doctor says not to sleep with your contacts in, and I’m the kind of person who is extremely paranoid about the contact rolling behind my eye while I dream. I’m afraid that when I wake up I’ll be blind or the lens would have caused infection somewhere inside my head, or that the contact would have morphed into an alien creature that eats away my brain. So I’d rather pull an all-nighter and keep my contacts in than just go to sleep with them. 

No one else in my family wears contacts, so when I forget my solution, there’s no one to borrow some from. I’ve tried putting them in water for the night. I did this for two nights and then realized that the water seemed to have stripped the outer layer off my contact. This may have just been a trick that my brain decided to play on me, but I don’t put my contacts in water when I forget my solution anymore. 

Instead, I’ve developed a flawless plan to allow for me to keep my contacts safe overnight. It goes something like this: remember to pack my solution and contact case. Whenever I pack, my contact lenses are always the first things to find their way into my luggage.

One thing that I always over-pack are books. I always assume that I will be constantly reading on my vacation and so I pack enough books to read 24/7 and not run out of literature. In reality, I barely ever finish one book. First of all, I am the world’s slowest reader. So when I pack 24/7 books, I always pack the amount that my mom could probably read in that span of time. I have yet to reach my mom’s speed in reading. 

The second thing wrong with packing a bazillion books is that I’m really not going to spend all my time reading. If my book is lucky, it will find its way to my hand a few minutes a day. 

The third problem is that books add a lot of weight. This is no problem when you’re driving, but when you’re on an airplane and the maximum weight limit allows for little more than the necessities, I often find myself sticking my books in every available pocket and then wearing the coats that house these books. On an overseas trip a few years ago, I brought at least 10 books (yes, 10 300-or-so-page books) and managed to stuff them all into the pockets of my very large raincoat. I often wonder what everyone thought when they saw a little girl who resembled a very large square and struggled under the weight of her jacket. But nobody asked questions.

Packing luggage is a very valuable skill that everyone should master. I’m slowly finding my way to a happy medium in packing. I now only bring about five books and usually remember my contact solution.

Miriam A. Thurber is a sophomore at Unatego Central School. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at