This is the second half of my story, I hope you enjoy it.
Thankfully, Mitch went shopping in a military-surplus catalog and bought me a desert-camo field coat with a heavy liner. At least I’ve got a warm coat to wear. But what else do I take? No matter what kind of weather I pack for, it will be wrong. Mitch has told me stories about past hunting trips, where it rained the whole time they were out there, and he slogging around in ankle deep mud, or when he went to bed with the temperature in the 50s and woke up with the snow so deep, they had to shovel a path from the motel door to the trucks. Another time, he wore everything he brought because of bone-chilling cold. I’m naturally cold blooded, so I decide to take everything I already own that could somewhat resemble a “hunting ensemble” just to be safe. Heavy coat, liner, pants and over pants. Extra socks, so I can wear two pair at a time, even though my boots are too snug when I double up. Long-sleeved shirts. Bandanas to cover my face from the wind. Gloves, and a hat. And I hate to wear hats.
Mitch looked at the array that I had laid out on the bed. “You only get to take one suitcase.”
Is he serious? This won’t fit into one suitcase, or even two. I couldn’t believe his hard line. “I haven’t even laid out my non-hunting clothes yet.”
“What do you mean, ‘non-hunting clothes’?”
“Well, you know, clean clothes to wear to dinner after we get back in from hunting.”
“You only need one or two extra shirts and one or two pairs of pants for that, all week,” he said. “You won’t wear them along enough to get them dirty.”
I just looked at him like he spoke a foreign language. So he explained, “When we get back at night, we shower, go to the Pizza Palace–the only restaurant in town that’s open at night–eat, and then come back and fall into bed. That will be the extent of our evenings.”
I tried one more time. “One suitcase for hunting, one for street clothing and my makeup case.”
“Makeup case? What do you need makeup for? We’re going hunting, not to the mall. The birds don’t care what you look like.”
“I care,” I say. My mother always said, “Vanity thy name is Susan.” Besides, what’s it to him if I wear makeup?
He took a deep breath, looked skyward for patience, and explained that space is at a premium. “We’re driving in a station wagon. We have to take the hunting gear—the dog, the dog’s food, the guns, the shotgun shells. We’re talking about putting the large trunk that holds all of the shell belts, extra boots, the heavy coats and light weight jackets, my suitcase, your suitcase, dog food bucket, dog bed, the dog and oh yeah, the shotguns are a must, into a space that is about 4 foot by 7 foot. All of that—and us—have to fit into the station wagon, otherwise there’s no point in going. If you can get it down to one suitcase for hunting and one suitcase for street clothes and makeup, then you can take it,” he says, exasperated.
So I have him at two bags. One more won’t matter, if he doesn’t know it until the last minute. Then it will be too late. I know it sounds lame, but I like to have clean clothes for each day. It’s one of my “few” faults. No problem, this will work.
I put back all of the sweaters and most of my sweatshirts and tightly squeezed them all into my two suitcases and makeup case. Everything fits, except for my heavy field coat. Hopefully, nobody will notice that I’m wearing the same shirt more than once.
I watched Mitch pack, how he buttoned and carefully folded his shirts. I paid close attention to the way he rolled his pants and stuffed extra socks in his boots. When he was done, I saw amazed how much he could cram in one suitcase. There was still room.
Next year I’m hiding my overflow in his bag. By the time he figures it out, we’ll already be at the motel.
After all, I’d hate to go all that way with nothing to wear.