I’m finished packing! And everything fits in my little suitcase…
…and my big suitcase. And another big suitcase I had to buy on Tuesday. And maybe a giant box that I’m mailing…
But the point is, I’m finished packing. Early. Like three whole days early.
It was kind of satisfying to zip up my suitcases and flop back on a bed that wasn’t covered with stuff. But then I realized what I’ve done. I’m packed. My life in Chiang Mai has been distilled into a couple of gigantic 23kg bags.
As I thought about that, my face leaked a little. They might have been tears, but I still have 3 whole days left. It’s too early for tears.
As I sprawled out in my empty room, feeling all maudlin and grumpity, I wondered if my new turbo-packing uber-preparedness frenzy had taught me anything. Did I gain any wisdom to share with you?
The short answer is no. Despite both the uncharacteristic packing speed and seeping eyeballs, this is still me. Introspection and I go together like tuna and cupcakes. Which is to say, we don’t.
However, that’s never stopped me before. Right? So here it is, a little list of Do’s and Don’ts for Departure Preparedness. (Or Dos and Don’ts for some of you, and Do’s and Don’t’s for others. Take your pick.)
Don’t … try to eat all your favourite things in the last week. You’ll run out of meals and wind up having pork floss, sticky rice, grilled chicken and coconut candies for breakfast, and then you’ll feel too icky to enjoy your scheduled green curry for lunch. But it’s scheduled, so you have to eat it because it might be your last chance. Ever. Because everyone knows there are no Thai restaurants anywhere else in the world.
Do … make a list of places to visit before you go. Re-live old favourites. Pencil in some places you’ve been meaning to get to but never have. Make your list waaaay before it’s time to leave. Otherwise, when the time comes, you might forget some, and then you’ll be sitting in the airport departure lounge gripped with sudden panic because you lived here for 4 years and never did go to the museum.
Don’t … get a haircut. Sure you want to look nice when you arrive and see people you haven’t seen in ages, but after 30 hours of flights and airports and more flights and more airports, you won’t look nice or smell nice. You just won’t. Forget it.
Do … go to the dentist. Really. It’s less than $25 here, and you’ll be smiling a lot when you get home, so it’s a good idea to have clean teeth. Especially since you’ll probably still smell like stale airplane farts for a while after you land.
Don’t…be surprised if feelings leak out of your eyeballs at unexpected times. Like when you’re buying chicken from your favourite market lady, and she says, “See you next time,” and you have to tell her that there won’t be a next time. Then she’ll be sad because you won’t be buying ridiculous amounts of fried chicken every week, and you’ll be sad because you know you’ll have to start paying more than 15 cents for pieces of fried chicken.
Do…make time for friends, even ones you don’t know really well. It might make you sad that you didn’t get a chance to know them better, but it might also motivate you not to be such a hermit couch potato in your next home. Or maybe not.
Don’t … forget to cash in your little jar of coins. My cup full of small change is going to pay for my 1st month’s phone bill in Canada. Cha-ching!
Do…give stuff away. You never know when someone might still have your blender or bedside table 10 years from now, and they’ll think of you when they use it. And then they might tell you that they still use it and think of you. And then your heart will smile a little.
Don’t … try anything new. Now is not the time to discover that the little restaurant 2 doors away from your house has the best noodles in town. The knowledge of all those lost noodles will haunt you. Trust me.
Do … get rid of that comfy pair of pants that you’ve been hauling from continent to continent for nearly a decade. They’re falling apart and after all that fried chicken, they don’t fit you anymore. They’re one frayed thread away from causing you a whole heap-ton of embarrassment. Let them go.
Don’t … Try too hard to squeeze everything you can out of your last few days. There’s nothing more likely to destroy your peace than to spend all your time thinking, “Ohmygoodness, I have to love all of this. Right now. Love it, I say! Forget your stomach ache and love it! Smell the flowers. Look at the sunset. Watch where you’re driving!!!! Love all of everything right now before it’s gone forever!!” Because that kind of makes it hard to savor the moment.
Do … relax. Enjoy the time you have left. Get a massage. Eat a coconut. Hug a friend.
Do you have any departure wisdom from your experiences?