Feb 18, 2012

Notes on packing with my father

Clearly not our luggage. We're expert packers.
Photo: Shanghai Daddy

We pack nine books between us. Also, a Havana guidebook, two magazines, a notebook, and Killer Sudoku. There are five pens in my purse.

For days, we strategize the sunscreen situation. He comes home with 100ml travel containers from the dollar store. I spread newspaper on the living room floor and siphon SPF 45 into airline-friendly bottles. We watch Downton Abbey.

He sets a pair of Birkenstocks by the door.

He digs up a Spanish phrasebook, textbook, and laminated grammar chart. On weekdays, he reads them over bowls of cereal before going to work.

I download a Spanish phrasebook app. I read it once.

He finds two canvas gym bags in the basement. "I'm sure they're carry-on size," he says, and he flies enough to know these things. I lean down to unzip a pocket and the zipper head snaps in two. "It's fine," he says, "we needs something that can get bashed around."

The night before our flight, he hands me two fat rolls of toilet paper. "You never know what they have, what they're lacking." He went to Russia in the 90s, and all week he recounts scenes from that trip. "I hope Cuba isn't like that, but it could be."

In my bag, I make room for the toilet paper rolls. Before bed, I set my Birkenstocks by the door, next to his.


  1. I just found your blog by way of Jill from battered suitcases. You have some great stories, thanks for sharing them!