TJ Maxx was filled with summer essentials. Bathing suits, towels, flip flops, cover ups. Which was just what I was looking for, right? Well, yeah, except that I was assaulted with hues in the neon family, prints of the floral persuasion and shoes of the little-to-no-heel variety. I do not wear neon colors. At all. Ever. I may, from time to time, sport a bright aquamarine or warm pink (hot pink's more demure counterpart), but, generally, I steer clear of any color that may get me confused with a Vegas marquee. And I pretty much hate flowers on anything. And, if you've read this blog for a while, you know how I feel about shoes without heels. (If you haven't read me before, I'll bring you up to speed: I hate them.)
But this is my vacation. My first trip where I'll actually be required to use my passport (and not just flash it around at people to make myself feel like a World Traveler...As I did on my cruise three years ago). The first time I'll be away from my house for more than a few hours with only a backpack worth of belongings that does not involve a lunch period and study hall. And I'm going to do this. So I started looking around for something more my speed. Mom pointed out some very lovely, middle-age appropriate knee-length shorts (Pleats?! C'mon, Ma!), which I politely declined. (The shorts were declined for a number of reasons, not the least of which being the pleats. Also, they were declined because I do not wear shorts. Mom? Billy? Do you hear me? NO SHORTS. I hate them. I hate they way the ride up between my legs when I walk, I hate the way they make me feel fat, I hate the way my ass refuses to fit in many cuts of decent shorts, and, last but not least, you can't wear shorts with heels unless you want to look like a whore. And I gave that particular look up in high school.) But I did find something that I liked: Skirts. Rows and rows of skirts. My heaven.
I picked up crocheted skirts, linen skirts, terry cloth skirts. Jean skirts, flimsy fabric skirts. Knee length, long, barely-covers-my-J.Lo-ass skirts. And, then, excited about my finds and succumbing to the reality of my trip, I began to shop in earnest. Light, cool fabrics in tropical colors - things that made me think "Advertisement for Sandals/Puerto Rico/Honeymoon getaways" - were draped over my left arm while I used my right to sift through one packed rack after another. I was really getting into it. And when I spotted a cute pair of flip flops with beaded straps and a slight wedged heel, I went for it. And mom stopped me.
"Laurie. You can't wear that stuff." She picked up the flip flop, dangling it in front of my face like evidence. "You're going to be backpacking. And walking. You can't wear shoes like this." She gave it a shake. Taunting me.
"But he told me we'd just be spending a lot of time on the beach. I can wear those shoes." I pointed to them, lest she forget about which shoes we were arguing. "Look, they're the perfect compromise. Minimal heel, yet still flip flops. Designer, yet casual. And," I tilted the tag and inspected it, "only $8.99. If they hurt, I can just throw them away and wear, I don't know, palm fronds on my feet, or whatever I'm supposed to be wearing."
She rolled her eyes, putting the shoes back on the display.
So I went into the dressing room, and twirled around in front of my mother in the skirts, testing the tank tops for length and comfort, and settled on two skirts - one short and white, one long and green - and three shirts. (I also went and bought a pair of BCBG heels, too. They are neither minimal nor flip flops. Big high heel, completely impractical. I bought them because I could.)
Later that night, while we prepared ourselves for bed, I told Billy that I'd done a little shopping for our trip. I told him what I'd bought, and about the scuffle over shoes.
"You might want to get some diving shoes. You know, for waterfalls, stuff like that."
"I have a gay pair of diving shoes I bought in Jamaica when I climbed Dunn River Falls there?" The end of my sentence went up, like a question. Do you really expect me to wear diving shoes?
"Hmm." He considered it. "Well, I don't know. Maybe sandals or something. That won't fall off your feet and don't have a heel." He thought for a second, then spoke again: "You know, you might want to consider that you can shop there, too. Maybe save some room for stuff there."
"Can I bring a real suitcase?" I said it quickly and hopefully, like the speed with which I spoke and the need in my voice could magically trick him into saying yes.
"No," he said, just as quickly as I'd asked. "Backpack."
And we laughed that I was silly enough to even think he'd let me take a real suitcase.
And, I'm thinking about it, and I don't know how this is even physically possible. Don't get me wrong, I'm so excited about all of this...The challenge of packing light, as opposed to my compulsive need to overpack, the prospect of travel outside of the country, the even more intoxicating prospect of spending that much time with Billy, the fact that, a few weeks ago, when I showed Billy my plain gray cotton skirt that I was thinking about bringing, he said "Aw, babe, not linen or something? This is supposed to be romantic. You know, walks on the beach, stuff like that." I can't wait to be with him in the sun and the sand and the water. With the drinks and the foreign land and the distance from home. I just can't wait.
It's just that, when I think backpack, I think this:
And I just don't know how I'm going to carry any hidden makeup in that.