Future Perfect Tense

We leave in just under three days. I say “just under,” because at this point, the time until we leave can be comfortably counted in hours (about 68). I have made my packing lists, I have begun packing up things that I’ll take on the plane. Our clothes left two weeks ago. And yet, my own travel experience tells me that I will forget something. Nothing show-stopping, and nothing that cannot be purchased anywhere in the world, but still, when one has had more than 18 months to plan, forgetting anything is galling.

I was talking to my sister on the phone last night, and telling her about the fight in my OCD brain between trying to be as complete as possible in my listing and also trying to anticipate what I’m going to forget. Because I can’t shake the feeling that I will start unpacking things once we get into our stateroom and I will have forgotten something. (Ladies and gentlemen, we have achieved title.) But how do you anticipate what you’re going to forget?

At this point, all the big things are accounted for, which leads me to speculate that the thing I’ll be kicking myself for is something I don’t currently have, but wish I had. That lip mask Sephora sent me a sample of that I’m really liking. A new hat of some description. A full set of professional watercolors and an easel. I have no idea, but there will be something. And then there is the part of my mind that says that because I’m worrying about little stuff, I’ll forget something big. Medication. My passport.

It’s like in fairy tales where the main character is told not to do a certain thing (look in a room, eat something, ask a question), and although they live their whole lives knowing about that proscription, circumstances conspire to force them into doing the very thing they were prohibited from doing, with disastrous consequence. My worrying about forgetting something will force my brain into such a spin that it will, in fact, cause me to forget something.

My only hope is to pack everything now, put on the clothes I plan to fly out in, and just stand by the door for the next two days and two nights until I leave, moving only to add things to my bags as I remember them.

Yeah. That’s a great idea. I think I’ll do that.

Help.

A Soupçon of Delight

As we all know, I am a slave to lists.

I list everything I need to do, both personally (laundry, call my aunt) and professionally (create a new web page, send some emails). Rather than check them off as I complete them (because that’s hard to see at a glance), I highlight each completed task. But remember – this is me. I can’t just use whatever highlighter comes to hand.

First, I buy a multipack of highlighters. I prefer the liquid kind with a little window that lets you see when it’s running out. The pack has to have between five and eight colors – four or less is too few, nine or more is too many. Next, each one is assigned a number. There is no logic to this – sometimes it’s whatever order they came in the package, sometimes it’s in rainbow order, most recently I had my mother close her eyes and pick them out of my hands. The number is recorded on the cap where it is easily visible. Each Monday, I exchange the current highlighter for the next one.

Once they’ve been assigned numbers, the highlighters become one consolidated thing, like a jigsaw puzzle. And you know what happens once you lose a piece of a jigsaw puzzle, don’t you?

Maybe for you, it’s not that big a deal. You just know that Monet’s Water Lilies has a single blue and green piece missing from the upper left corner. You know it’s probably under the couch, but it’s just not worth the hassle to move the couch, look between the cushions, whatever. It doesn’t bother you. But you are not I.

For me, once a puzzle is missing a piece, it’s garbage. It’s as though a single piece out of the 1500 holds the interpretive key to the whole. It is damaged beyond saving. This is also at the heart of why I hate the puzzle piece image for autism – to me it implies brokenness, uselessness. I’m not missing anything – I have fucking superpowers compared to a lot of people.

Back to the highlighters. Once one of the set is used up, lost, or damaged, the whole set goes. You don’t need to tell me it’s wasteful. You don’t need to tell me it’s illogical. I know. But knowing is different than feeling, isn’t it?

So, six weeks ago, when the purple highlighter (#6 in the current set) went missing, I went into a bit of a panic. I cleaned my entire office. I turned my bedroom upside down. I looked in every disgusting nook and cranny of my car. I grilled my family, who all know better than to casually borrow something as precious as my highlighters. This particular set only has six, so I have been telling myself for three weeks that it’s okay if I don’t find it. I can just pretend this set only had five, and go back to the first color.

It’s funny how we lie to ourselves.

I had put “get new highlighters” on my list last week, sure that Mr. Purple was gone forever. Then I got out my weekend bag to take a trip to the Highland Games. As I was putting my list book, my other notebook, the loose sheets of paper on which I make notes, two pens just in case one runs out, two extra pen cartridges just in case the two pens both run out (even I am looking at this and rolling my eyes)…I found the purple pen. Six weeks ago, my husband and I had done a little writing/piping retreat, so of course I had taken it and forgotten it in the suitcase.

So now I’m literally dancing around in the kitchen, laughing and celebrating the homecoming of Mr. Purple. True, he was technically in the house the entire time, but still, it was 42 long days separated from his family, and we were all mourning him. So, please join me, Ms. Green, Mr. Yellow, Missus Blue, Mx. Orange, and Señor Pink in welcoming our friend home. Life wouldn’t have been the same without Mr. Purple.