Several years ago, while playing a bridal shower game where the participants rummaged through their purses in order to be the first to produce a specific item, I lost miserably. The items were normal purse things like a receipt, lip-gloss or ibuprofen. That day, my purse contained the following: keys, nine golf balls and my cell phone. There was no wallet, gum or any other normal purse items in sight. How I ended up with that particular set of items might sound like a funny story, but it really isn’t, mostly, it’s just a tale of poor planning and forgetfulness.
You see, my purse never seems to have what I need when I need it. I’m a writer but don’t bother asking me for a pen. Why? Because I’ll never have one. You might think this means I’m just so high-tech and I don’t need an actual pen, but that isn’t the case; I just can never keep one in there.
Thankfully, when I’m traveling, I do tend to have a better handle on the handbag contents situation, but not always. Sure, I can keep track of my passport, credit card, cash, hotel key and a few other essentials because those are just that – essentials. Something I’ll never understand is why, when traveling, people feel the need to carry around 10 times what they normally would at home.
Suddenly, people think it’s normal to bring a parka with them on a beautiful, sunny day in Mexico “just in case.” Or, they tote around a full size bottle of sunscreen on a dark, dreary day in London because, “you just never know.” It makes no sense to me. Sure, bring stuff you’ll need on your trip. But to lug it around all day, every day… that just sounds so heavy. Sometimes in life, you just have to risk it, and, if you find yourself in a downpour without an umbrella, duck into a café and wait it out. Life happens in the unexpected moments when you’re not prepared. On a side note, I would make a terrible Boy Scout.
But really, if you’re always prepared, you’ll never have any wacky mishaps or crazy stories. No one ever recounts the story of the time they were perfectly prepared… well, except for the story I’m about to tell.
It was last month and my husband and I were enjoying the nightlife in downtown Austin, Texas with my husband’s brother, his wife and a few of their friends. Everything I’d ever heard about Austin’s nightlife was true. Well, the only thing I’ve ever heard is that there is a great music scene – but it was definitely true! Amazing live music wafted out to us from every bar we passed as we walked up and down 6th Street. The next best thing was that we were outside, in February, and we weren’t soaked to the bone. I’m from Portland – this was a big freakin’ deal.
After a few hours and many, many blocks from where my in-law’s friend had parked her car, the unthinkable happened. Both heels broke off of her high-heeled boots. Contrary to what this Mentos commercial from the 90s would have you believe, a shoe with a broken heel does not equal a flat. It’s not even close; the shape is completely wrong.
None of us could believe it had happened but moments later, I realized perhaps for the first time in my life, I was prepared for something no one should be prepared for. In an instant, I produced a pair of flats from my purse, because, you know… just in case. This is even more impressive because I was carrying a small clutch at the time. They aren’t the most amazingly sturdy flats, but they were indeed a pair of functioning shoes.
For a moment, it was a triumph in preparedness. The next moment proved not so successful. I’m 5’7” and wear a size 10 shoe. Yes, I have big feet. My new friend-in-need however, was 5-foot-nothing with very small feet. My (night)lifesaving shoes didn’t really pan out because they didn’t stay on her feet at all.
So, in the end, I lost my travel triumph on a technicality. She alternated between hobbling and going barefoot the rest of the night but the whole experience got me thinking – just maybe I’m Boy Scout material after all.