Friday, August 10, 2007

Packing in ignorance

I always find I am influenced when I pack for a vacation by the weather of the moment, no matter how irrational that may be. A couple of days ago when it was horribly hot and humid I pulled out sleeveless tops and sandals to pack for my upcoming trip to central Europe. Today I awoke to more rain and much cooler air and immediately put my rain jacket into the gaping duffle. As I walked the streets today, actually feeling a bit too cool in short sleeves, I began to think, which sweater should i take that will look okay with everything else? White? Black? Gray? I removed a couple of the sleevless tops and replaced them with long sleeved ones.

In short, I do not know what weather I will encounter. I looked carefully at a map and found that the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, just to it's east, are both approximately on the same latitude as Nova Scotia. Of course they are inland and don't have an Atlantic effect. BUT they do have forests and mountains. It could be hot, it could be cool, it could rain. I have to try to be prepared. The word is "LAYERS" of course. And, hey, who do I have to impress? Of course I want to look put together but it's a vacation with eight others, all strangers to me, and frankly, they have no preconceived ideas and don't give much of a damn how I dress. Aren't I too old to get in a tizzy about wondering if things will match? Some mental habits and insecurities are hard to shake.

The more important thought is that I know very little about where I'm going. Czech means Havel, Kundera, Kafka, Dvorak, Smetena. I know the whole area disappeared behind the Iron Curtain until recently. I like to think of myself as a fairly well rounded American, I read widely, I have been interested in European music and literature most of my life. But I know almost nothing. I'll learn -- I trust our guide, a Czech, to tell us a lot of history. I'll ask if he doesn't. I especially look forward to hiking in moutnains and forests, but there are many castles in the brochure, all have their history, as do the many different towns we will stay in. So I have much to learn. That will be very satisfying and stimulating.

In the meantime, I will lay clothes out all over the bedroom and change my mind several times in the next 40 hours about what will be good with what. So far I've got a swimsuit packed [that I probably won't put on ] and the rain jacket ... it's a shame the jacket is a Macy's private label brand and not one of the adventure brands because I have photos of me in that jacket on three continents; this would be a good bit of advertising for the brand. I've been wearing it for ten years and it promises to be good antoher ten. isn't it wonderrful with a simple piece of clothing proves to be so durable and useful?

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