Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why am I dumb when I travel?

If you are familiar with the movie Airplane! then you will appreciate the fact that "Jim never has a second cup of coffee at home." For some reason that line always struck me as particularly funny. But if you think about it, we all do things when we travel that we wouldn't necessarily do at home. Eat questionable local food. Talk to strangers. Be seen in public in a swimsuit. When we're away from home, we're just generally more carefree and fun.

For reasons that aren't relevant to this story, my family and I had a need to travel out of town this week. As usual when we travel there have been a few things that haven't gone exactly as planned, but so far it's still been a good trip. Except for this morning in the shower, when it struck me that I do something really dumb when I travel.

I've done my share of traveling, so I'm typically fairly proficient at it. I come prepared. Extra clothes, precautionary measures for potential mishaps, plenty of snacks and things to keep the kids entertained. You know how it goes. But for some reason - and I don't know why it took me this long to question it - I very rarely bring my own shampoo, and hardly ever bring my own body wash.

Everything else that I might need... I bring my own. But apparently because the hotel always provides soaps, shampoos, and conditioners, something inside of me always says that I don't need to pack any of that. Does part of me feel some sort of obligation to use it? Like, if they went to the trouble of putting it there then it would somehow be rude to just leave it untouched? Am I worried I'll offend the housekeeping staff? I don't know.

Whatever the reason, it's stupid. The soap that hotels provide, no matter how much it claims to be "moisturizing," will dry your skin out horribly. The shampoo, no matter how much it claims to be "conditioning," will also dry out your hair. And possibly make it smell funny, as was my experience this morning. (It claimed to smell like rosemary - which I already thought was questionable, because why would you want your hair to smell like rosemary? - but it actually smelled like cheap men's cologne.) That's even worse than smelling like rosemary. Trust me.

But perhaps, like so many unexpected situations turn out to be, this will end up being a good thing. Maybe I will actually learn my lesson this time. Maybe it was the proverbial spark that I needed to change a bad habit. Maybe this will be the last time I come home from a trip with dry skin and weird smelling hair. Time will tell, I suppose.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Embarrassing Moments

I'm of the opinion that our embarrassing moments in life should be shared, if only to make others feel better about themselves. I'm fairly certain that you have done things in your life that made you feel really dumb. I'm equally certain that it brings you at least a certain level of comfort to know that other people have done plenty of things that were just as dumb. And so I share this story with you.

One evening last week I was out running some errands with my family. At one point, because it was going to be a very quick stop, the rest of the family stayed in the car while I ran inside. After being in the store for less than a minute I came back to the car, only to discover that the door was locked. I thought this was odd, and wondered why my husband had locked me out.

It was only then that I looked up and discovered that I had not, in fact, returned to my car. I was standing at the driver's side door of the car parked next to mine, trying to open a complete stranger's door. I was embarrassed, and quite red-faced, but at the same time I was extremely grateful that the door had been locked and the car had been empty. I can only imagine the shock it would have given us both if I had opened that poor woman's door and tried to sit in her lap.

Now, I could try to rationalize the situation by saying that I had gotten the car only a week before, but I have a feeling that nobody would accept that as a valid excuse. And it would definitely be less embarrassing if the car that I had mistakenly gone to had been the same (or even similar) model as the one I drive. But nope. No help there. They weren't even the same color! Yeah, I've got no excuse. Other than the fact that we all have those moments where we just go brainless for a bit.

As the saying goes:

All I could do was join in with the rest of my family as we all had a hearty laugh at my expense. Because as embarrassing as it was, it was still kind of hilarious. So next time you do something that makes you wonder where your brain was hiding and why it temporarily deserted you, try not to feel too bad. It happens to the best of us.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How do you come back from that?

Yes, dear reader. I come crawling back, head hung in shame, but eyes cast ever so slightly upward as I peer at you humbly and dare to hope that you will forgive my desertion and let me back into your life. (Not that anyone has ever accused me of being overly dramatic or anything.)

To say that "it's been a while" would be a bit of an understatement. But yes, it has been a while. I'll spare you the details, for now, but for several reasons that we may or may not get into later (and some that I'm fairly certain we never will) this poor blog was sadly abandoned. Fortunately, however, it seems now that it was only temporary.

I'm sharing this with you because I have a strong feeling that there are others of you out there who can relate. Maybe it wasn't a blog, but I would bet that there have been things in your life that you have let go of, or drifted away from, or otherwise lost. You may not have done it intentionally, and you may not have even realized that it was happening until it was gone.

It starts simply and predictably enough. At first life just gets in the way for a little while, and you get too busy to fit everything in. Then one day you turn around and realize that two months have passed, and something that you once loved has slipped away. You realize that you didn't mean for that to happen, and desperately want to reconnect, but then the anxiety hits. How do you go back after so much time? You stress about that for a while, and before you know it two months has turned into six.

At some point you may start trying to talk yourself into a comeback. But after so much time has passed, you think that you can't possibly just pick up where you left off without making some sort of event out of it. Perhaps you begin again with the new year? It's a natural time of new beginnings. But then you realize that everybody says they are going to start new things in January and then they always end up forgetting about them after the first week, so the whole thing starts feeling cliche.

So then you start looking for other occasions to use for their supposed "new beginning" properties. Or trying to figure out other ways to make your comeback. Or, at the very least, stress some more about how to explain why you've been away for so long, and worry about whether or not you will be welcomed back.

And that's where I stood. Until I realized that I'm not the first person to ever face that situation. We're human, and it happens. Things come up, we get busy with life, and things (or people) drift away. And if we let ourselves get deterred by the anxiety of it all, we can end up spending the rest of our lives wishing that we could go back and simply take that first step toward reconnecting.

First steps are scary and sometimes painful, but they are a necessary evil. And we would never get anywhere without them. So if I could be so bold as to offer a bit of advice... Don't wait for a special occasion when it feels "right" to make a new beginning. Don't get bogged down in the "what if" and the "how do I?" of it all. And don't wake up twenty years from now and realize that you're living with a lifetime of regrets. Just pick a random evening in the middle of the week, take a deep breath, and put yourself out there. If you're anything like me, you'll be very happy that you did.