My name is Tracy Brogan and I am an over-packer.
I said it.
That’s the first step toward recovery, right?
I hope so because I have some trips coming up and I’m tired of hauling along everything plus kitchen sink. But here’s the thing. What if I *need* all the stuff I bring? And when I say *need*, imagine me saying it the way my daughter says she *need*s a puppy. It’s not rational or logical or even explicable. It’s raw, visceral emotion. I *need* to bring four pairs of stiletto-heeled sandals, even though they sting my feet like scorpions and leave blisters the size of Trump’s ego. I *need* a different bathing suit for each day of the week regardless of the fact I wear a burka-like beach cover-up. I *need* every available over-the-counter medication. What if there is an international catastrophe causing everyone in the world to suddenly horde Neosporin and moisturizing nasal spray? It could happen.
To make matters worse, my husband also an over-packer, although he brings completely different treasures. You know, silly stuff like hard drives, extension cords, car fuses, and our Apple TV. Once, he packed rum to take to Jamaica. (‘Cause it’s hard to find rum in Jamaica?) Add to the mix our daughters and their various trinkets, what-nots and over-sized stuffed animals, and we *need* a U-haul just to visit The Great Wolf Lodge for a weekend at the water park.
Last spring, we went to England for a friend’s wedding and had seventeen pieces of luggage. Now granted, three of those were purses, so technically I could say we only had fourteen suitcases. That sounds much less absurd, right? People ahead of us in line at airport security chuckled. The weary travelers behind us groaned and switched lines. At a London train station, I could almost read the Brits stiff upper lips as they muttered, “Americans.” (In all fairness, we were poster children of the tourist stereotype. Too bright clothes. Ice cube seeking. On a relentless quest for expedient food service. I could hardly blame them for the whispers. Besides, they’ve given us Russell Brand, so how could I stay mad?)
Now, the reason my over-packing defect is foremost on my mind is that in a few weeks I’m traveling to Manhattan to attend the National RWA conference. I’ll be staying at a swanky hotel in Times Square, along with more than two thousand other writers, not to mention gatekeeping literary agents and deal-making editors. We’ll be hob-knobbing, schmoozing, elbow-rubbing, bantering, and name-dropping. At the Awards Ceremony, a few of us lucky ones will sit in the front row (where I’ll find out if I’ve won the Golden Heart contest for non-published writers). This gig could be a once-in-a-lifetime event for many of us, so what to wear is of paramount importance.
This is not the time for me to pack light.
Instead, I’m be taking every pair of FMP’s I own, along with too many dresses, a wild variety of Spanx, and the Golden Heart ring my daughters bought me. I’m taking a camera, an iPad, breath mints, business cards, hair product, antacids, and probably Xanax if I can get my mitts on some.
Most importantly, I’ll be taking optimism, because last year at this conference I met sparkly, vivacious Kim and wonderful, absinthe-loving Alyssa, the women destined to become two-thirds of our Three Cheekas writing alliance. This year, I intend to meet and fawn over some of my favorite authors like a little girl gushes over Cinderella. And I hope to meet my future editor. (Applications currently being accepted.)
So, no matter what I bring, what I wear, or how much my feet hurt, I know I’ll be coming home with so much more than what I packed. I’ll come home with memories and friendships, inspiration and knowledge, experience and renewed determination. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll have a new necklace shaped like a Golden Heart.