Bag Lady

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

Well, we drove in from North Mississippi last night through torrents of rain until just on this side of Carrollton, when the downpour stopped, and then not a drop. Poor Bill. He had white knuckles and a crick in his neck from straining to see the red tail lights ahead of him. I took turns clutching the seat, praying unabashedly, and giving instructions as to how he should drive. Whew. We were both exhausted, not from the delightful four day visit to family in North Mississippi where they treated us like royalty, but from the rigors of traveling for five hours through a storm. And we did not even get so much as a sprinkle on our lawn and flowers. Shoot.
So glad to get off the road, though. You know it’s true, nothing looks as precious as does the comfortable environs of your home after being away on a trip. No matter how humble, Home is, indeed, where the heart resides! We try to “pick up” the house, make the bed (always!), empty trash, sweep the kitchen, and have Bill clear away clutter from his desk, so that our house is very welcoming when we return.
My daughter called with an invite for a nice Father’s Day supper while we were still slogging through the rain. Great. I didn’t have to worry about fixing dinner but. . . I had to unpack bags. I knew that if I did not accomplish that task, it would be hanging over my head Monday, and Monday was Laundry Day. You’ve seen the embroidered dish towels, right? Monday is Laundry, Tuesday‘s for Ironing, etc.
Baa Baa Black Sheep. Have you any wool? Yes, Sir, Yes, Sir. Three Bags Full!
Really? Just three? So, I ask you, how many bags does one need for a short summertime trip to visit friends or relatives? How do you pack? It depends largely on if you are a man or a woman, of course, and on what is planned for the time you are there. Are you going out to eat? To church? Dress up? Or swimming? Picnic? So, outside or inside? The heat and humidity this time of year necessitates several changes each day. Bill can stay a week with one medium pilot’s case and his “ditty” bag. Ya’ll know what that is, right? A kit for toiletries, shaving gear; soldiers and sailors carried their things in a little cloth bag made of sailcloth. He also brings shirts on hangers. Nice.
Me? I’m another story. Actually, even at home, I live with seven or eight bags that I use to try to keep myself organized. Two brief cases and six canvas bags hang on doorknobs or are propped in closets awaiting my attention. All have little cardboard tags that say, Writer’s Group, Senoia Museum Programs, The Veranda Event, Sharpsburg Baptist Church Homecoming, SBC Bible Study, Senoia Library Books, Newspaper Articles. I know this is boring stuff, but, hey, I would love to know if you have better ways of keeping your life in some order. Please share.
Traveling is the same. I need a bag for makeup. A bag for hair care. A bag for swimwear, and lotions; then don’t forget the string bag for Shoes! These days, we both need separate bags for Medicines. Oh My. Also, the laptop has a bag; I have to “bag” the IPad and the Notebook. Good Grief. Our car and trunk are bursting with bags, bags, and more bags! And for pity’s sake, do not forget the small cloth bag of treats, peanut butter cookies, chocolate candy bars, potato chips, nor the little sailcloth cooler that holds our bottled water and soft drinks. I’ve lost count.
Yes. This is ridiculous. It is only a distance of 350 miles. I traveled to Italy and Greece as the leader of a Student Tour in the 90’s with only one small rolling bag and a backpack. The trip was for 16 days! No washers or dryers either. I threw most of my clothes away, as planned, in order to bring souvenirs home.
In 1988, I spent three weeks at University College in Oxford, England living out of one bag and a trench coat with a lot of deep pockets.
I always believed that if you had something “in the bag” you were “as good as done; successful!” Well, I am always determined to get so much in those bags that I will have a successful trip or that I have organized the jobs and projects I am responsible for to the point that they are as “Good as done.” People often speak of “baggage” as things that get in the way of personal progress, that encumber our freedom, both physically and mentally. Yep. I understand that more today than ever as I look at those eight bags holding jobs, folders of “things to do.” No one really knows where these idioms originated. Could be it refers to the hunter who has killed his prey and put it “in the game bag.” Ha! Could be that’s just what I want to do most days as I look at my “bags!”
But, no. I love the moment when I pull out my suitcases, spread out my clothing, check off my packing list and get ready to go. I love my bags! And I hope, dear friends, that you have a great vacation this summer. Bon Voyage!

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