a retrospective on packing

It’s easy to find post after post dispensing of (and displaying) advice on how to perfectly pack for your vacation. But do these writers ever follow up with how it all actually worked out?

As I repack my suitcase, I’m struck by what I used and used again and washed and used again. And all those items that I didn’t.

The losers:

Jeans. Why did I bring two pairs? Of course, I needed one for when I was in San Francisco. Two was utterly too many. I haven’t thought twice of wearing denim since leaving the mainland.

Shoes. At the last minute, I threw my super cute Kate Spade espadrille wedges into my suitcase. Where they have stayed for the entire trip with their unworn sister, a pair of camel colored Chie Mihara’s that I brought for SF and planned to use here too. With jeans. (I was wrong.)

The one-piece bathing suit. I thought I might want it for surfing or other water sports. But I committed to the bikinis and didn’t look back.

Two long-sleeved Lululemon half-zips. Granted, they came in handy in San Francisco, but the beach does not cool down at night here, and I should have shipped them home with the work clothes I had my dad send back to DC for me.

Make up. Hair dryer. A navy and white striped cotton pique dress. A stack of bangles. A bunch of condoms? What was I thinking?

What would I bring more of if I had to do it over again? Another bikini. A few more skirts that can go to the beach and transition to dinner.

And definitely, a second pair of flip flops.

skintastic

Photo by chelseachronicl

If there’s one insecurity I grew to overcome quickly here in Hawaii, it’s the exposure of skin. More skin than one is used to exposing in one’s uptight little corner of the world, that is.

Tunics that I normally just use to get from home to the pool and back serve as dresses here and sarongs as skirts. Like, that I have been wearing in public. Not just to the beach either, but to restaurants and bars.

Bikinis are everywhere, so I’m glad I brought four with me. (Though the virgin skin unused to the sun is a little angry with me today when 4 hours on the water prevented my religious reapplication of SPF 50 every hour.)

Espadrille wedges and the one pair of heels I packed remain untouched. I’ve worn nothing but flip flops except the day we went hiking when I wore sneakers. And even worse, because of the sand and the surf, my pedicure is not intact. The horror. I would never dream of exposing a chipped pedicure back home. But here on the island, hang loose.

Photo by chelseachronicl

My runs on the beach I’ve done in a bikini and t-shirt. Not a la Baywatch (I know how you think) but still, for a woman who doesn’t wear shorts even in the height of summer, this is a huge step. It’s too hot for yoga pants, and the one day I wore running crops, they just got all wet anyway so why bother?

I’m relaxed. I’m comfortable. I’ve adapted. I can’t believe that next week I will have to wear heels. And bras. And dress clothes. But vacation wouldn’t be vacation if it happened all the time.

I mean… I don’t know what I mean. That sounds pretty awesome.

on Hawaii

IMG_2284I love Hawaii. I feel at home here. I’m not a beach bum by any stretch of the imagination, but I have enjoyed wearing nothing but a bathing suit since I’ve been here. I haven’t missed heels (did I just write that?) and I don’t mind so-called “island time” which would drive me nuts back in DC.

With the days of my vacation winding down, tonight I let myself be overtaken by emotion. After my friends went to sleep, I walked down to the beach by myself. And while three nights ago the moon lit up the sky, tonight it was nowhere to be seen. I sat in the sand, looked at the cloudy sky, listened to the waves crash, and I cried.

I cried for the remaining days (too few). I cried for the days away from my boys (too many). I cried for the fact that I have the wherewithal to be here (grateful). I cried tears of thanks to my friend Malia for providing the house we’ve called home on this trip (more gratitude). I cried for the uncertainty of when I can return to Hawaii. I cried for the challenges that await me at home. While Month of Chelsea was a resounding success, there is much to be settled still and in Scarlett O’Hara fashion, I’d rather think about it tomorrow.

I haven’t done any of the things I told myself I’d do here. I haven’t finished the sequel to My Night with George Clooney. I didn’t blog until tonight. I took two runs on the beach and a death-defying (maybe breathtaking is a better modifier) hike but other than that I haven’t worked out. I’ve read some books, but not at the speed I intended.

I relaxed. I ate. I drank. I slept like a baby.

I know the right thing is to make the most of my remaining days, so I will be counting each minute and making it count. And then I’ll be planning my return next year with the boys.