Friday, April 12, 2013

Pre-departure rush

It’s not such a very long list, really. Finish editing an article, send off a couple of emails, make a casserole, enter receipts from the past ten days into the online checkbook, throw a load of laundry into the washing machine, and empty the dishwasher. All really quite manageable and not very complicated at all.

Except that my plan was to be in bed over an hour ago.

But vacation eves are always like this, or have been for as long as I can remember. I always have far too long a To Do list the night before going away. Partly this is because I procrastinate, and partly it’s because I’m unrealistic about what I can accomplish, and partly it’s because I always have an elusive fantasy of leaving the house perfectly clean and tidy when we go away.

So it’s always a little bit stressful, and one thing I can rely on is getting to bed later than I intend to, usually by hours.

In a way, it’s the worst part of going away on vacation: the last 24-hour rush to get out the door. But within me lies a small suspicion that this is maybe not only the worst part but also the best part. Because unlike other times of the year when my To Do list itself seems to extend out the door, when I’m getting ready to go off on a trip, there’s more excitement than despair underlying the line-up of tasks. Yes, it’s a lot to do, but it’s not just the usual cycle of housework and deadlines that, once done, will only need to be started again. This surge of tasks comes with a deadline and a reward: finish up and you get to leave!

So as much as I may sigh and gripe over all there is to do before I can comfortably close my suitcase and hit the road, I’m not sure I’d trade it for a serene, well-planned pre-departure countdown. Part of the fun of leaving is that sprint to get out.

Because, of course, once it’s finally done, we’ll be gone and headed somewhere else: Washington, D.C. in this case, for a four-day visit with family. Yes, there’s a lot to do, but the prize comes in getting through it and then leaving it all behind. Working hard tonight to meet deadlines and tidy up and wash clothes means not having to do any of that while I’m away.

So I’ll do my best to get it all done and I’ll try to not to stay up too late in doing so. Getting ready to leave can be stressful, but it’s also thrilling: the very same combination that marks every departure, to varying degrees. I’ll finish packing, finalize that article, and pop the laundry into the dryer. Then to bed. After printing out driving directions and watering the plants.

Okay, maybe not so soon to bed after all. It’s hard to get ready for vacation. But it’s almost always worth the crunch time that comes before departure. And I’m not sure I’d want it any other way.

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