Saturday, February 26, 2011

Preparing to travel

In all our married life, I have been the one who packs the bags. I've always been very good at it and even when we traveled with the four children, we never had much baggage. If we were not staying with family (and their laundry facilities) we always managed to stop at hotels or in towns that had laundromats. Now, we always have a tube of detergent for washing by hand and as soon as we stop anywhere long enough or dry enough to allow whatever it is to dry before packing again, we do a little wash.
The thing is that, until a few years ago, I didn't need to think about all this until a day or so before the trip. Then, for some unknown reason, I started to panic as I was packing. This time I'm not panicking, but I must admit that having Paul participate in the preparation has been stressful for me. Aside from the very last-minute stuff, we are packed. In fact, the suitcases were ready for filling a full 3 weeks before. We've got lists that I compiled into a single list, but I've felt pressured beyond all reasonableness to do all this long before we need to. Not all the pressure has been bad -- we have been to see our doctors; we've had or have scheduled vaccinations; filled our prescriptions well in advance. We've done our reading. If we were leaving tomorrow, I'd say we could manage that. But we're not leaving tomorrow!
We don't need the same wardrobe. That helps. Here, it's cold and rainy. There, it'll be summery and, we hope, the dry season. I say it's cold, but really it's not that cold these days. You can feel spring is on the way. The forsythia is in bloom and there's a reddish tint on some budding bushes and trees and light green on others. When we get home, it'll be a completely different scene!
We haven't been completely immersed in the upcoming trip, though. We went to see the play "L'amour, la mort, les fringues" (Love, Loss, and What I Wore) by Nora Ephron last Tuesday. It was excellent. Minimal set, five excellent actresses, and a story women can all relate to: "what I was wearing when...." or what dilemmas we've faced, like stockings (or later, panty hose), lipstick, the first bra, shoes, handbags, and so on. From the laughter in the audience, I could hear that men know our story pretty well, too. This was one of our Christmas gifts. We've got another show coming up in April.
We also went to the movies last week, to see "Les femmes du sixième étage", which we enjoyed very much. The setting in Paris in the 1960's seems perfect. I arrived in Paris in the early '70s, but the bourgeois apartments with the maids' rooms on the top floor were still just that. It wasn't until a little later that most of the maids' rooms were rented out to students or bought up by a single owner who tore down the walls and made beautiful little apartments up under the roofs. The attitudes towards the (mostly) Spanish maids are just what I remember. The Spanish maids replaced the Breton maids and were then replaced by the Portuguese maids, but by that time, it wasn't so much maids as it was cleaning ladies who worked for more than one family. I've had Portuguese cleaning ladies on and off, but more recently, it's been Eastern European women, although our most recent cleaning lady was French. She had come to the conclusion that she could make better money house cleaning. She left us when she had enough customers closer to her home and we decided, once again, to try to keep up with the housework on our own. From the looks of baby buggy pushers I see, it looks like the nanny market has been taken over by African immigrants. I guess if one had been thinking ahead and taking pictures of cleaning ladies, concierges, and childminders over the years, we'd have a nice history of social mobility. I doubt this movie will make it to the US, but if you have a chance to see it, do.
I met up for lunch with a couple of friends from my KDS days. That's always nice. P's son is in New Zealand and we had lunch the day after the Christchurch earthquake hit. He's ok, but I bet he'll consider earthquake zones negatively when it comes time to decide whether or not to settle somewhere. C's busy setting up her business; she's got a few contracts under her belt now, so she seems well on her way.
Last night, I got invited to see a play, "Les lois de la gravité". R got cheap tickets. It's a tiny theater, and it was packed. Packed and overheated. I thought the acting was very good, but that the play was stretched out a bit too long. After the play, we met up with S, who lives near the theater, and had a little talk-fest at the café across the street from her place. I didn't get home until a quarter to two! It was a fun evening.
Now, it's time to fix lunch!

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