EV and I are headed to the Jersey Shore today for a stay of between 16 and 36 hours.
That’s more intimidating to me than a descent into the mouth of hell in the style of Dante’s Inferno. It’s an inferno plus a trip to a zoo plus sand. I have already packed five bags and I am still certain that I’ve forgotten something. If you were to pass our car en route to our destination you would assume we were on the final leg of a cross-country trek rather than a 90-minute drive to interact with throngs of primarily South Philadelphians enjoying an early start to a long weekend.
More accurately, I am totally cool with traveling but I need several days to exhaustively pack at least half of my worldly belongings for the trip such that my internal OCD Godzilla is satisfied I am prepared for every possible contingency, and since I usually don’t have the time or ability to do that I make up for it by not traveling especially well.
I’d call it “traveling exceedingly grumpy.”
I don’t exactly mean a trip to Europe here. We’re talking about any excursion longer than an hour car ride or 12 hours in length. Having a laptop and a carry-on travel guitar has slightly eased my anxieties, but there’s still the clothes. I mean, the shoes alone are at least a suitcase’s worth for a two-day trip. More if there will be formal dining.
Thus, as you would expect, traveling with a toddler opens up whole new realms of my innards for OCD Godzilla to stomp and thrash through, giving me untold additional amounts of agita about leaving the house. While I wasn’t exactly thrilled about traveling with a baby, the possibilities were finite. N hours away from home was X number of cloth diapers + Y amount of outfits + Z cubes of frozen pureed food. All of the options of Xs and Ys and Zs were interchangeable. It was a fixed, linearly progressing equation.
Not so with a toddler. It’s fucking logarithmic and that’s not just my OCD Godzilla on a rampage talking – it’s reality.
A perfect example of this going well was a recent 6-hour trip with EV to a farm to pick berries. I figured EV needed an outfit to travel in, something lighter if it got much hotter, her swimsuit, a second set of clothes to change into post-farm if she got very dirty or interacted with animals, PJs for if we stayed out late enough that she would fall asleep on the way home, and an emergency change of clothes. That doesn’t even account for food, a book to read in the car, hair ties, et cetera, but let’s stay focused on clothes for the purposes of this example.
Somehow, we used every outfit by the time we got home. I actually had to dip into the emergency stash! It’s not as if I kept changing her clothes for fun or just to burn through them, as I do personally just to keep things theatrical. These were outfit changes necessary for the health, comfort and safety of a toddler.
What if she got irrecoverably dirty a second time?! (As for the first: don’t ask). Then she’d be walking around just in the spare set of underwear I keep in the car just in case.
And, though the farm was dusty, there wasn’t any sand there.
So, if you happen to be driving through New Jersey today and you see a steel blue Toyota packed to the gills with a toddler in the backseat who demands that Aimee Mann be played at all times while driving on a highway, please wish those travelers godspeed and hope that the purple-haired guy behind the wheel has a internal King Ghidorah who can temporarily block and tackle his OCD Godzilla long enough for him to get all of the sand out of his shoes.