Monday…. 3 more days until I am off to the exotic land of India. I could already imagine the sun, the dust, the markets with beautiful fabrics, the food, the fruit, the people, the temples… I can hardly wait for the hours and minutes until I board that United plane. Yet, the excitement sometimes becomes overshadowed by my fear of flying. I hate the crampy little seats on the plane. I am nervous about breathing in the same air that continues to circulate inside the plane regardless of how careful I try to cover my face. I absolutely despise the space. Claustrophobia has been my friend for a while now.
On top of the flight fear, I have not packed at all. Feel free to call me a procrastinator. I need pressure to complete a task well, and only pressure can kick my brain into producing creative solutions. So I started to pack, and my suitcase ran out of room!
The thing about traveling to your home county, especially if your home country is in Southeast Asia, is that you don’t just pack for yourself. You pack for your family, your neighbors, your distant cousins whom you never meet and everyone else that anyone of your immediate family comes in contact with. I forgot to buy presents for my neighbors who usually watch my mother’s house when she travels. I definitely forgot to pack chocolate for the kids whose mothers are in the choir at the church where my family attends. I don’t even want to think about the gifts to all the cousins who will come and meet me at the airport.
It’s bittersweet really… the notion of picking up and dropping off someone at the international airport is a sad yet very proud event for the family. The parents can proudly walk their children to the gate that leads them to a better future, a future that many others in a third world country such as Vietnam are not lucky enough to have. Every time I see my mother at the airport, arriving or departing, I can see the pride in her eyes. Yet, mixed with pride and happiness for my future is also deep separation anxiety and sadness. Another year or might be more until she can see her baby girl again. There would be no out of the blue visits, no driving to check on her sick child, no frequent phone calls at convenient time. Though technology has provided us with Skype, Google hangout, Facetime, etc., the thought that you physically cannot be there for your loved ones when they need you the most is terrifying. My constant fear is that I would not be able to make it home on time for my family emergencies with all the visa restrictions and flights and cost.
Back to packing. The secret to packing is always to roll up your clothes to create more space. For girls, those heels that you are going to need, wrap them up with your scarves and put them in the middle of your suitcase. Tape all bottles’ opening including lotion bottles, shampoos, etc. and put them securely in plastic bags. I will never forget the day when my suitcase was soaked with a brand new bottle of shampoo that I just bought for the trip.
After packing, its a day of relaxing and attending a non profit event for children. Then off to a chef party with delicious food and drinks. Life, for the moment, is beautiful.