Guest Blogger: Senior Hummingbird Ponders the Challenges of Packing

  Suellen Zima describes herself as a Senior Hummingbird.

Why does she equate herself with a hummingbird?

Because, like a hummingbird, she plants her feet firmly in mid-air, hovers, drinks deeply, and then flits away.

“We are very independent creatures who live life quickly and intensely,” Suellen says.

“If someone tries to hold us, we will die. But we can fly backwards as well as forwards at will.” A seasoned traveler, Suellen should have packing down to a T. But she marvels, as she prepares for her most recent trip, at just how difficult preparation for a journey can be.

The following entry was posted in Suellen’s blog, Follow the Senior Hummingbird, on 14 December 2010. It is republished here with her permission.

You’d think that someone who spent literally years on the road would find packing suitcases a piece of cake. But it never is. 

Each trip is different and requires its own packing approach. And, in the age of having to pay extra on the plane for each suitcase and not being able to put certain items in a carry-on, I’ve had to develop new packing skills.

I always admired intrepid travelers who could simply fling a carry-on over their back and set out for years with just that. But I’ll never be that kind of traveler.

And age has made me adjust to a suitcase on rollers, although I still use a backpack for my carry on.

To Do Lists

When I get close to when I’ll be leaving, “to do” and “don’t forget” lists begin to appear.

And my sleep is disrupted for days ahead by a new thought of something I need to add to the lists.  Details, details!

There’s the mail, the plants, emptying the refrigerator of perishables, last minute things I need to pack including food for the day since airport food is not so healthy. 

I know I have to be well prepared before the travel day arrives because they always start at my most inconvenient hours – early morning – when I’m likely to remember nothing at all. The airport is only 15 minutes away without traffic, but the shuttle will be picking me up at 6:40 am for my 9:15 am flight because of the long check-in time airlines now require.

Arrival at the Airport

So, I’ll be exhausted by the time I arrive at the airport before I even begin my journey.

Who knows what the check-in procedure will be like now?

I’ll be going to two relatively small airports that most likely do not have the body scanners, and one larger airport that might.  I’ve already decided I’ll opt for the body search if I have to make a choice because, after all those scans with varied machines I had while I was hospitalized in July, I don’t want to put my body through any more invisible rays than I have to.

Do I have to worry about the weather back east when I live in sunny California and I’m not flying very far?  Guess it might matter since planes are routed from everywhere.

Up, Up, and Away!

So, my short flight to northern California might be on a flight coming from some snowy, wintry place.  And will someone on the plane transfer his/her germs to me?

I started taking an immunity booster supplement and I’m bringing my little white gloves for indoors.  Well, I can only worry so much about things not in my control.

And so I’ll eventually get to visit my good friend in northern California and then on to glitzy Las Vegas, where my granddaughter lives and will finally be on school break after a grueling first semester. 

She seems to have more homework in high school than I had in college. And so the money, preparation, and planning will finally conclude with happy, carefree, unrushed time with loved ones.

That also means I will not be able to post regularly to my blog while I’m away from December 15 to January 4th. I may or may not get to a computer during that time. But, I have made room to tuck a journal into my carry-on.

Suellen Zima is author of the award-winning autobiography  Memoirs of a Middle-aged Hummingbird. She publishes an insightful blog entitled  Follow the Senior Hummingbird. We met in Macau many years ago when we were both teaching English in the then Portuguese enclave. We continue to be close friends.


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