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Unpacked Suitcases

Is there a universal correlation between how long it takes you to unpack a suitcase and the length of time you'll be home before your next trip? Am I prolonging my next departure by leaving my bags stacked open in a tower like a bizarre martin house where I pluck out items only as they are needed? Or am I hastening a new trip by telling the world I'm happy as a lark with my new gypsy ways?

Two birds, one metaphor.

I'm not really happy to be home. I'm trying. I'm trying to not feel guilty about not being happy. Things need to be done, my life is still here until it's not. I'm very happy to be with the people I love here, this is not undone by my discontent. But since May I've spent so much time in places I'd rather live. Not Helping: It's a thunderstormy 90 degrees most days here lately. I have those other cities on my iPhone weather app, and sometimes I scroll them just to torture myself. Probably not the most efficient way to be an App Flagellant, but it's one of mine. 

I have another whip. I'm slightly obsessed with worry that I've brought home bed bugs from my travels. My logical mind tells me that my itchy ankles and arms on some nights are due to mosquito bites acquired during the day (see also rainy 90 degrees and see also River doesn't care let's walk let's run let's fetch!) Most likely mosquitoes, not bed bugs, I reassure myself as I hoist my mattress in the air, flashlight in my mouth. Let's dance like a conga line of ants on Occam's Razor, I tell my ideations. Wepa!

I know this much about science: DON'T GOOGLE "BED BUGS." Horrible. Horrible. No good comes from it. I'm sure my night terrors are psychosomatic itching, even though they only happen in my own bed. Munchausen's by Google Search: I'm experiencing symptoms just to have something to cringe-read which then inspires more symptoms. The rest of the clothes in the suitcases are going to the cleaners tomorrow and I'll put the cases in trashbags, just to be done with this idea. Oh, the suffocation metaphors write themselves. 

Just when I think I'm owning the full measure of my midlife crisis, a new and beautiful bud blooms. It's a veritable rosacia of angst and longing for renewal. Midlife crisis = metaphor fountain! I am a wretched bouquet of allergens, baby's breath and mall-lunch regret in a bad craftstore ceramic birdfeeder planter. (However I am not inserting a miserable, attention-seeking self-portrait here. This is how you know I am not cut out for this game.)

I've been thinking about Paris Syndrome. Poor travelers, the myth of Paris so resonant and gorgeous in their minds, but when they get there, the reality of it all – the excitement of finally arriving in heaven plus their exhaustion plus cultural barriers plus the beauty plus the not-so-beautiful, non-heavenly realness – crushes and breaks them. They have to be airlifted out, sent back home, quelle relief that the Eiffel Tower is growing smaller and smaller until finally the window at the end of aisle 2B only shows clouds again. I wonder if a lot of travel is like that, the dream so much better than the reality could ever be? Event disappointments of all kinds might be similar? 

I wonder if midlife is like Paris Syndrome? I thought it would be beautiful to have travelled through so many changes and to be arriving at this stage of my life as a wise grown up. I thought it would be more like walking through the Arc de Triomphe at night and less like stumbling over a stack of suitcases on their way in or maybe on their way out. 



Reader Comments (6)

I would have never thought it possible to beautifully weave bed bugs, Paris and existential angst together but you did. Poetic.

That said...bed bugs freak me out. They are a job hazard for me and I am forever paranoid thatbi've brought them home.

August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVikki

Ypur job has so many hazards. Eep. At least don't carry a lady purse for bugs to piggyback in.

August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeb

Your words here are why I come home so sad from my only travel alone: to BlogHer.

To have some one like you, to just sit and talk meandering thoughts.

I miss that.

A lot.

Yes, Paris Syndrome: never heard of it, but yes, I haz it.

And since I can't have you here to talk with me, I'll just pretend like we're sitting next to each other, the way we did in Madison.

Yes: which is which: midlife or post travels. Because at midlife, we have more than half of our life behind us, less than half of our lives before us.

We hang on, greedily: wanting more of the oh so good stuff because we know how lucky we are when we are in *those* moments.

It's like trying to make an eclair last -- knowing that no matter how we extend it, stretch it out, take our time with it, it'll still come to the last bite ... and then there is no more.


You are so special, Deb.

August 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralexandra

I am VERY happy that you are home.

August 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPA

What is this? I've been reading and reading trying to understand what in the absolute hell this feeling is, this wish that I were anywhere but home. Is this just the get back to normal business post BlogHer DTs? I'd rather have vodka. I am having vodka. Because right now it's the only thing helping. I have not unpacked fully. I trip over that damn bag EVERY MORNING. My husband convinced me I'd brought back bedbugs. I've shrunk two brand new sweaters because everything had to be washed on hot. I itch but I know full well it's the devil created mosquitoes. You've mentioned wise grown up. OMG THE HELL? Is it a reasonable expectation that all adults will eventually achieve the title of wise? I am not there yet. I keep wondering who the hell is telling the bill collectors how to find me, that's the extent of my wisdom (also, I want to type wiseness even though, no).

August 21, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterArnebya

thing one: I am really sad that I missed you at BlogHer. It was so damned BIG this year, and there was no seeing you or seeing West Side Story or seeing much of anything other than throngs of people I never heard of. So overwhelming.

thing two: bedbugs haunt me. I've had them. It was highly traumatic. The telltale sign is three or four bites in a row in at least two places on your body. But yes, the psychosomatic issues are large with the bedbugs. I still feel them crawling on me.

August 28, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLora

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