Amanda rarely packed for a trip more than twelve hours in advance. She had never forgotten something she couldn’t live without, and she had never been late for a flight, so she had no definitive proof that she needed to change that habit. However, packing at midnight was pushing it, and she knew that when selecting socks and shirts and shampoo became a metaphysical discussion.
It had started with a pair of flip flops. She bought them at the insistence of a friend, who told her that vacationing at a beach without flip-flops was like climbing Kilimanjaro without rope and harness. But Amanda couldn’t wear the flip-flops without frequently looking over her shoulder to make sure that the tapping noise she heard was not someone following her, and she rarely spent more than a few hours on the sand.
Except that time she’d gone to Greece. She had fallen in love with jewel blue water and thick sand, the force of the wind and the mixed smell of oranges and salt. Greek beaches had made her into a wader, and a sand-castle builder, and – at the end of two weeks – a tanned flip-flop wearer.
That gave Amanda a moment’s pause. But she was going to California, where the water was cold, and she expected to be more changed by the magnificence of the traffic.
She packed her camera, knowing she’d only use it once or twice. She picked two books for the flight, then wondered if she would want more. She felt better for having them with her, but she rarely even finished one.
Except for that time in Maine when she spent every evening reading by the lake, idly watching fireflies and listening to the summer breeze rustling trees that were more accustomed to resisting iced gales. She’d bought extra books on that trip, just to keep eavesdropping on that conversation between wind and leaf.
She looked at the stack – stared at it really – then decided that she could afford to spend the time in a bookstore if she really wanted more once she got there.
Then she started into her shirts. She packed all her favorites: t-shirts and her thin, soft sweaters, and tanks for hot days. She picked out a few nice tops for going out to dinner. She put in several pairs of jeans. She packed one dress, in case she need something even nicer. One dress gave her the ability to follow a surprise opportunity. Two dresses meant she would be looking for a place to wear them or else feel silly for having brought them along.
Unless she would want that excuse to do something silly when she arrived. Dancing or taking in a theater show or eating at a restaurant that actually had a maitre de. Or wearing an obviously too-rich outfit, and putting on a British accent while she wandered through a museum to slip into an even more exotic place. She’d never done anything like that before, and tonight all she wanted to was curl up in a sweatshirt and have a good cup of coffee, or wrap up in a hoodie and hike a trail. But who could say what Amanda in California would choose.
She examined her closet and pulled out a dress she’d bought to make Audrey Hepburn proud, and only worn once. She put it out on the bed. She would make her final decision when she saw how much extra space she had.
And then she started stacking other things on the bed. White gloves that had been a joke gift, but seemed to belong on top of that dress. A snorkle she had never used because she’d been terrified at the idea of accidentally breathing water. Maybe Amanda in California would be inspired to conquer fears. And then the flip-flops, because the snorkle mandated a beach. A sketchbook. Two bottles of nail polish: her favorite, and one that she’d had for three years and never worn. Her passport, because a night in Mexico wasn’t out of the question. A warm blanket that smelled like home. A worn out blanket, condemned to picnicking, in case she just wanted a place to sit. CDs. First the ones that were good for passing time on headphones. Then some that was good for dancing, because she was beginning to suspect that Amanda in California might be the kind of person who would set up a boombox in the middle of an open square and start a dance party with strangers.
She stopped herself when she reached for her stereo.
Looking at the things on the bed, she laughed at the range of guesses about who she might be in a few days.
She put everything away and started over at who she was: Amanda, who was getting on a plane in seven hours and needed sleep.
Written half in inspiration from my day’s activities and half at the impetus of the weekly writing challenge:
In this week’s writing challenge, we’re asking you to write a short piece of creative writing (fiction/poetry/prose poetry/freeform mindjazz/whatever floats your boat) on the theme of Starting Over. Drop Starting Over on your page and see where it takes you.