After a ride along the river, I come home smelling like somebody else. And not a somebody else I want to be in close proximity to. A shower is in order. In the bathroom, I look in the mirror at my sweat-streaked face and realize I haven’t put on make-up since we moved. I recognize that vacation feeling that makes me feel like I don’t need to worry about what anyone else thinks. I guess living somewhere temporarily is freeing in that sense. I don’t have a sense of “I’m going to see these people over and over again.” Plus, working from home means there are no co-workers to see how bad I look without mascara. What is it about feeling away from ‘home’ that changes my attitude? I like it. It makes me want to gobble up every experience there is to have because I feel like I have so little time to enjoy this place I’m in. But, I also know I have enough time to see a lot as long as I don’t procrastinate. And, of course, we can always stay longer.
Now it’s time to pack. After only two weeks we’re returning to Columbus for a few days so I can make sure everyone at the office knows I am still around. 🙂 I realize I don’t know where my travel supplies are–the small bottles of the products I think I need when I’m going to the office, including the small make-up kit that fits nicely into a suitcase and helps me cover the blemishes of age and acne–the former I can’t outrun and the latter I can’t outgrow, but both I can conceal. Then it dawns on me–I haven’t driven a car for 2 weeks. I wonder if I should take my bike?
I look forward to seeing my friends again. I feel like it’s been ages even though we normally don’t see most of our friends for far longer than 2 weeks at a time anyway. I guess because we see different friends every week vs no friends at all for 2 weeks, it feels longer. My husband said he felt like a visitor when he returned last week. I wonder if I’ll feel the same?
For the first time since we left, I have to think about what to wear. It will be nice to get some more use out of my work wardrobe, I suppose. The dust hasn’t accumulated too much on my skirts and jackets yet. They hang slightly rumpled in my closet from being packed into boxes; into a suitcase they go, rumpling all over again. My shoes are neatly stacked, still in their original boxes. Over the years of trying many organization techniques for shoes, I’ve found keeping the boxes to be the best. Boxes stack neatly on the shelf and prevents crushing and stains unlike any rack in the bottom of the closet that I can never seem to use with consistency. Plus, I feel like I just got a new pair of shoes every time I open up a box and remove the paper stuffing. Although I have tried to learn not to buy four-inch heels, I can’t help but enjoy being 6′ 2″ in them, even when my feet are aching.
It’s the one stereotype about women that I embrace–I do love my shoes. Yet, for two weeks, I’ve worn only my Chacos hiking sandals, my biking shoes, and my Vibram Fivefinger trekking shoes. I wonder if my feet will still fit into my narrow heels after so much freedom? I imagine them curling back and refusing to go into my heels out of protest like alien creatures with a mind of their own. I select a pair of heels that are high enough to keep my hems from dragging but comfortable enough to wear every day. Since I am taking a small suitcase, I decide one pair of heels will have to do and I select office clothes that will go with the pair I’ve picked.
I place everything into my suitcase, thinking how long it’s been since I packed to visit Columbus–the last time was back in the 90’s when I was doing a 6-month assignment in Dallas. I remember where my travel toiletries are–they are still at the fitness center at the office in Columbus. My suitcase looks surprisingly empty for a 5-day trip. I throw in a jacket, remembering that my friends said that it’s cooled down in Columbus and thinking of how cold I get sitting in my office. My bag looks fuller, but I wonder briefly if I should take another pair of shoes. Deciding to keep it simple and forego the extra shoes, I zip up the bag with finality.
As we load into the van and prepare to leave, I look back at our building and wonder if I’ll miss it. Which place feels more like “home” now? Columbus, where I spent the vast majority of my life, or Chattanooga, which I’ve enjoyed for 2 weeks? Often, I think “home” comes down to where your bed is. There is something about sleeping in your own bed that makes any place feel like it’s your own. We’ll see.