Kage Baker was always in charge of packing for our trips. It was my job to get the bags in the car and us to our destination – but packing was her forte. I would have arrived a lot more places with a lot fewer clothes, otherwise.
Only once did she forget something major – which was all her formal clothes for a World Fantasy Awards convention – but that was in the last few months of her life, and she was distracted. Even so, she figured it out before we got there, somehow. I don’t know how, because her suitcase was in the trunk and she was in the front seat when she suddenly exclaimed, “Get off in Gilroy; I forgot all my clothes.”
She must have been going through lists in her head. She was a great believer in lists, and made them for all occasions. Grocery, laundry, prop, paint and luncheon lists; and what she called “stuff” lists, which were the lists of whatever stuff had to be in the luggage for a trip. That ran from socks to drugs; toiletries and the parrot; spare UCB drives, and one more day of underwear than you think you’ll require. It was the stuff you needed, the stuff you wanted. The stuff that couldn’t be found in the hotel lobby shop, because the only good stuff came from Home.
We are now at the stage of Dickens Build where the stuff includes carriage lamps, batteries, doilies, lemonade dispensers and parlour maids. I have to make most of my own lists now, although my invaluable and unique staff is doing a wonderful job as well. But I need to pick up tea. I have to remember to get the palm trees. And no one can pack for me, alas, which is how last week I ended up with the correct number of socks – but no two of them matched and they were all ugly.
I am largely on my own in the stuff department. My solution is always to just do without, then, but there is a certain crucial minimum of stuff below which one does not wish to fall … without those lists I am at dire risk of finding I have no corsets, or that the only shoes I brought are multi-coloured huaraches. Believe me, no matter how long and full your skirts are, multi-coloured huaraches are going to show and ruin the Victorian ambiance. I suppose I could just wear my Italian lace-up ankle boots with the 3-inch heels on the road, so I don’t forget them … but do you know how the truckers stare at you in Gustine when you’re wearing those?
The right stuff is situational. That’s why you need lists. And why I must go now and make some – I don’t even know where my reticule is.
Tomorrow: another brief dispatch from the Road To London