Packing for another island


Joyce Wagner is a freelance writer and author of the book, “Random Overthoughts: The Best (Give or Take) of the Humor Column ‘Overthinking.’” She resides in West Tisbury and is currently at work on two historical novels. Once a week, she will ponder certain Island truths and institutions in “Overthinking.”

Yes, I am a little tan, thank you. Just got back from vacation. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. My housemate (HM) has a timeshare there and has been after me to come with her for ages. This year, finally, I had both the time and the means to do it. Worth it. Totally.

For me, a lot of the excitement is in the planning. We determined, in the name of breezing through security and customs, to bring only carry-ons. The challenge was, how to bring a weeks’ worth of clothes in a small suitcase. This is dangerous territory for an overthinker – especially one who carried her passport on her person from the day we booked our flights, lest she leave it home. We decided two bathing suits (with coordinating cover-ups) each would suffice. One on, while the other was drying. One set of day clothes. Flip-flops. Easy-peasy.

But evenings! Dinners! Dancing! A whole weeks’ worth! In a suitcase that would fit into that little space designated on those airport signs that everyone ignores. And, depending on how crowded our flight would be and which “zone” we were assigned for boarding, we might have to check it anyway.

Since I recently moved from the mainland to the Island, I still have a lot of clothes that don’t really work here. Sparkly things. Fancy dinner things. Dancing things. What joy to dig those out, spread them on the bed and decide which would make the cut. Thus began the pre-vacation fashion show.

“How about this?” I breeze out of my room into the kitchen, and disturb HM’s work at her computer.

“You’re going to dress up that much?” she asks.

“How often do we get the chance?”

“Hmmm.” She’s already packed. “I usually bring one dress.”

“You can’t imagine what I thought you just said.”

She climbs the stairs to her bedroom and for the next few hours we model all of our summer finery, chanting our mantra, “How about this?”

Eventually, we narrow down our choices with slightly more than will fit, deciding to make the final cut (and suitcase choices) after we’re able to print out our boarding passes and find out our “zone.”

Shoes are an issue for me. “There’s dancing every night,” HM informs me. “If you’re single, the staff guys dance with you. They’re really cute.” Being somewhat a toothless cougar (still eyeing the prey but too tired for the leap) and a sucker for a good samba, I tap my Chapstick laden lip with a finger while I examine my footwear choices. I have a great pair of Capezios for Sunday night ballroom at Nathan Mayhew, but they’re actually too good. It won’t be a kept-clean no-street-shoes wooden floor that my sueded soles will be massaging.

“Bars,” I’m told. “We’ll be dancing in bars.” Spilled drinks. Sand and dirt. Another option was called for. Unfortunately, my summer footsie collection consists of flip-flops and wedgie shoes that are difficult enough to walk in, much less dance. Found two pair of adequate shoes at Le Poulet Rouelle (Chicken Alley) and stuffed those into the suitcase along with a week’s ration of underwear.

Of course, there’s the matter of (gasp) liquids. Whoever made the rules for security really has no concept of what it takes to be a gently ageing ingénue. The rule of thumb for make-up – from washing the face to the final touch of mascara – goes like this: 1 hour, plus 10 minutes for each year over 40. That’s just for daytime and will only bring you up to code. We need cleansers. We need creams. We need foundations. We need industrial-strength mascara for thinning lashes. We need pencils in the colors our eyebrows used to be. And because the process takes a lot of coffee, we need whitening toothpaste AND gel whitener AND whitening mouthwash.

Shampoo. Conditioner. De-frizzer. Mousse. Squirrel. (Sorry.) Not to mention sunscreen with an SPF of 130. How is one supposed to fit all that into a baggie that would barely accommodate a container of Activa and a spoon?

By debarkation day, we had winnowed our trousseaus and cosmetics to manageable levels (although it took two people to close each suitcase), but we stretched the definition of “small personal item” (i.e. handbag, laptop case) well beyond reason. However, Saints Dolce and Gabbana and the fashion gods were on our side. We made it through security and were able to board both planes without having to check anything.

The flight, however, was a different story – one for next weeks’ blog.