Packing for a two-day date with only a few hours notice felt akin to evacuating a house in a mad dash to avoid the approaching wildfire. I didn’t even know where to begin. What does one take on a camping trip with a total stranger? The sleeping bag and tent had been placed by the door – easy choices – but clothes, and food, and personal care items. Will he think I’m too girly or wimpy if I bring my pillow? Screw that. I went to my room, retrieved one of the pillows, located a spotty selection of clean pillowcases that had been removed sporadically from the cardboard boxes over the past few weeks, dressed my bundle of soft feathers, and added it to the growing pile. At the very least, my head would have a clean, comfortable place to sleep.
I really wanted to bring my air mattress, but if we camped somewhere without electricity, inflating it would be impossible. Only one campground in the mountains included electricity. I’d already directed many visitors to it using the official forest service map, so statistically, the odds were against my having power throughout the weekend, which likewise nullified a heating blanket and my iPhone charger. The image Bonnie created of a wilderness man living off the grid, combined with his request for me to provide my own tent led me to assume I should leave the air mattress and all my electric gadgets off the “this-is-going” stack. This planning and preparing process felt rigorous, and the real packing hadn’t even begun. I mentally crossed my fingers that the weekend itself would be less complicated.
When contemplating my clothes, I considered the practicality of wearing the same outfit on Saturday as I wore on Friday night, changing into something clean when he picked me up at the apartment. Good plan. I laid out clothes for tomorrow night and packed a clean outfit for Sunday morning into my backpack. But what if we go hiking? My backpack would accompany me on those outings, and I don’t want to carry my clothes around with me. If I carry food and water we when head out, too, and it would be easier not to have to unpack my clothes to use it along the trails. Damn, why couldn’t he have given me more directions? I found a tote bag and transferred the clothes. The list and the pile kept growing.
Oh, and pajamas – do I take them, and if so, the comfortable ones or the sexy ones? It’s doubtful men make these kinds of choices when they throw a bunch of stuff in a bag and – boom – they are ready to camp. But to me, separate tents implied comfortable pajamas, so I pulled a shirt and pants out of the drawer. They didn’t match exactly, but they were close enough, and if I changed into them after I was in my tent for the night, he’d never see them anyway. I considered the strategy of bringing a sexy pair, just in case, but then I would have to find some, so why jinx myself.
I tossed in two extra panties (because it never hurts) and one bra (in case a jabbing underwire does hurt), and four pairs of socks, just in case my feet got cold. Or wet.
Shampoo and conditioner? No probably not, but I reminded myself to buy some dry shampoo on the way to work tomorrow. Face wash or cleansing wipes? Hair clips or just ponytail holders? Brush and comb and deodorant would be packed tomorrow night before I left, and I threw in a vial of perfume, which may have been eccentric, but was also small, so I didn’t care. I’d love to take my electric toothbrush, but I don’t want him to think I couldn’t rough it for two days. Too bad, it was going anyway, but I would have to wait to pack it, too. The unpacking process from the move failed, as of yet, to reveal the stash of sample-sized toothpaste from my last visit to the dentist, so I’d just toss my current tube into the bag, after I brush my teeth tomorrow evening, of course. Loads of uncertainty surrounded this endeavor, but with my tote nearly full, at least my preparations were advancing.
Now for a serious concern: he’d have to see me without my make-up. I cannot recall the last time I went on a first date and didn’t apply a full pre-date makeover, including fresh gloss, smoky eyes and defined cheeks. Avoiding raccoon eyes and clogged pores the next morning, however, should take priority. Fine, no make-up, but I tossed lotion into my zipper pouch, though, as I would at least keep my lips moist, just in case.
I wandered into the kitchen to contemplate my food options. When I camped overnight by myself, I’d grab a sub sandwich on the way, then survive on peanut butter sandwiches for breakfast the next day. Some grapes, cherry tomatoes, and apples or oranges were always good options, but never bananas since the oils attracted mosquitoes, and itching, scratching, and being eaten alive should be limited. Of course, now I considered the perils of peanut butter breath and the only vegetables on hand were sliced peppers and cucumbers, which would result in an open dialogue between the consumed foods and my abdomen for the duration of the weekend. All the usual options were swiftly vetoed. At least I could survive on the bag of apples I recently purchased. What about bottled water? Crap, I didn’t know. I’d pick some up tomorrow, too. Time to write these things down.
He’s going to think I am the worst camper ever. The thought kept resurfacing as I packed. I spent the entire evening debating which jeans and tops, and whether or not to make a run to the grocery store that night or wake up early to stop on my way to the office. In the end, it didn’t matter what I packed, because I’d still second-guess myself. The accumulated pile near the door seemed overly large. What would he think? And as for my messy apartment, I knew, realistically, the collection of unpacked boxes would remain, thus him seeing me for the recently located slob that I happened to be at the time.
NEXT: The Invitation – Part 13