Saturday, May 28, 2016

Inch One Hundred Nineteen: Queen of the Lists

I am not referring to myself. While I will often make short "to do" lists on a busy day to make sure I cover my bases, I am not the Queen of the Lists.

No, that honor belongs to my friend Cindy.

Cindy and I have been friends since before we knew how to be friends. Her grandparents and my grandparents knew one another, her mother and my mother grew up together, and Cindy was no doubt introduced to me when she was 13 months old and I was a new baby. Fortunately, the introduction took. We grew up together, we have shared our lives for 40+ years, and she and I exchange emails daily through the work week. We have shared sibling issues, aging parents issues, health issues (our own), pet and animal issues (hers), children issues (mine), money issues, relationship issues, and everything else one can imagine sharing.

And Cindy holds solid to the conviction that one day, somehow, she will convert me to being a dedicated and avid list maker. She believes that so fervently that for Christmas she gave me the gift of organization: paper, pens, pencils, and two memo notepads, each capable of being stuck to the refrigerator.

This is how dedicated Cindy is. If I mention that I am taking a trip in, say, two to three months, her first question is "do you have your lists yet?" An even better example is her own planning: she already has her suitcase and makeup case out and her lists started for a late July trip she is making.

I am heading out of town right after Memorial Day, flying west to attend a conference in Seattle and then south to spend time in the greater Portland area with my family. (Warren, alas, will be tending the home fires while I am away.) I told Cindy I was making "little" lists and she praised me like one praises a small child who put her toys away for the first time.

I do have little lists: things that I absolutely have to get done before I leave, many of which I knocked off this morning. The biggest item on the list is get the garden planted: my hope is to put it in this evening when the sun is far in the west or tomorrow early before the heat comes up.

But if I were being totally honest with Cindy, I would admit that my packing list is vague at best. I am still wanting to pack minimally, a feat I can get away with because I will have a washer and dryer to use when I am with family. I am curious with how little I can get away with packing for a 13 day trip. Will my clothes all fit in the small bag Warren packs his bongos in? If they do, then I can use my "purse" (using the word very loosely) to carry conference papers, travel papers, and personal items (my wallet, my phone, and so on). I have to think of how each item I want to take will be used and whether I really need it. As a result, when I sit down to make a packing list, I pen a few items and then think "too much."

When Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic in 1927 (the 89th anniversary of that flight was seven days ago), he carried no radio to save weight and increase the fuel efficiency of The Spirit of St. Louis. In Wild, Cheryl Strayed writes of tearing out and discarding pages of books after she had read them to reduce the weight of her backpack while she walked the Pacific Crest trail.

Me? I'm just trying to get from Ohio to Washington and back again without having to schlep baggage. Yeah, yeah, I know: I can check it through. But I don't want to. I don't want to lug a bag, even a moderate sized bag, one single step. I certainly don't want to have to lift something BIG (anything that is not small) into an overhead bin. No, no, no.

So minimalist packing. That means minimalist lists. (Of course, that may be the secret to minimalist packing: making a list so spare and honed down that only the bare necessities go.) Who knows? (Cindy would, of course. )

For now, though, I stare at the little lists. They are lists. And Cindy would be so proud of me.

After all, that is what friends are for.


Laurie said...

I am somewhat of a list maker. I generally have one or more lists, though they quickly become a bit chaotic. On a recycled piece of typing paper, I typically have a to do list, grocery list & sometimes other things to buy (at the hardware store, etc.), and an idea list for meals considering what's on hand. I find I'm more productive if I have some ideas to keep me on track, but some days I don't look at it and see where the wind takes me :o). Happy travels!

Darla said...

I'm woefully behind with blogger friends. I'm delighted to hear you are going to be in the North West and able to visit family. Hope you fit everything you need into a small bag. In my experience, we really need less than we think.