One of the best moments in my life was when I packed a suitcase over the phone. I was in Barcelona and my best friend was in my storage space in DC. I hadn’t been inside the unit in several months, but I was able to talk him through the process, step by step. I knew exactly where each item I wanted was and told him which boxes to open and what to take out. I’d calculated the volume of stuff that could fit into the small empty suitcase he was going to bring when he came to visit and asked him to only remove those items from storage.
“It’s not all going to fit,” he mumbled into the phone. But I knew that it would. I could sense exactly how everything would piece together like three-dimensional Tetris. “It’s not fitting,” he said and I instructed him to turn one thing one way and another thing another way and to pad the space between with a certain book… and everything fit perfectly. Just like I said. Because I am a packing goddess.
There are many things I am bad at, many things I’m okay at, and there are things I do well. It’s possible the thing I do best is packing. I take pride in fitting things into a defined space. I derive pleasure from making sure that a box or suitcase isn’t too heavy. When I open something I’ve packed, the most important or useful items are purposefully on top. Boxes I’ve packed have themes. I take this shit really seriously.
Which is why I was angry at this one package I’d been meaning to send my mother for a while. The thing wouldn’t play by the rules (’cause there are totally rules). For starters, the amount of things I had for her was either too much or not enough for the boxes I was able to get my hands on. (Rule #1: Don’t pay for boxes.) Since I don’t really live in this apartment (most of my own belongings are in boxes), I don’t have access to the stuff I would normally use to fill in the little spaces, like those bubble cushions that come when you order stuff from Amazon. (Rule #2: Don’t buy extra stuff just as filler.)
I was getting a little desperate since I’d never been bested by a packing challenge. I took a deep breath, stepped back and assessed the situation. I surveyed the apartment, letting my eyes rest on everything in the space, trying to find a solution. And there it was, overflowing my to-be-recycled bag: empty plastic bottles.
Plastic bottles are the perfect filler since they don’t weigh anything, they’re clean and they can be bent or cut into all kinds of shapes to squeeze into every space. The plastic egg holder was a super stroke of serendipity since it provided the structural stability I needed to prevent the contents from sliding around. (Rule #3: Items should not shift once packed.)
So my record remains unbroken. I am still a Master Packer. Bring on the next challenger.