My phone rings.
“Hey honey, where have you been hiding? How come I can never get you?”
Moot point, since she already got me several times already. I mumble something resembling an answer without actually being one.
“Hey listen when can I come by with the luggage?”
“The one for your mom to take to Albania”
One whole luggage? I flash back to the open clothes, some still in shopping bags, some in luggages, some in the carryons, that my mother has been fighting with since the month started. She bought bags, shoes, advil, tylenol, rolaids, tums, black shoes for grandma, running shoes for brother, candies for the kiddies, suits for my aunts, underwear, hemorroid cream, 99cent perfume, etc. For all i know, she singlehandedly saved National Liquidators from chapter 11. And my dad’s clothes are going in one single carryon.
When I call to tell her about the conversation with my friend, she starts yelling and is still talking when I get home 8 hours later. What to do?
I pray there are no further cousins and friends, suddenly discovering my parents’ imminent departure. It is always the same story. Because one asked for a letter or some money to be delivered to the family 10 years ago, it is now one’s most holy duty to deliver baked chicken, 99cent shoes and shampoo, aspirin, colored pencils, and every single horrendous porcelain doll and rogaine sample, that can be acquired at such short notice.
I break down and complain to my Haitian friend, who tells me the story of her cousin going to Haiti. Somebody called and begged to meet her at the airport with a very insignificant package for their family. She felt generous and said yes. Sure enough, there is a guy with a real life SUV tire for her to take on the plane. Oh, so it is not only Albanians.
I tell her the story of another friend who once agreed to take a wrapped up package and put it in her luggage without checking what it was. She always packed the day before, so the luggage was packed and locked for three days. She got stopped at customs, because her luggage smelled funny. When they opened it and unwrapped the package she had to deliver, they found a putrefying roasted chicken. Needless to say, now she only travels with her toothbrush, one solitary pair of clean underwear, passport and money. And she only calls from the airport to say goodbye.
My dream is that one day I will have only one small carryon with my clothes, one luggage with shoes and that there will be no one to call and waste my vacation time on waiting for them at the cafes. And I always start so well. I say I will take nothing. Then relent and accept money and letters. By the time my luggage is ready for packing, I am so overwhelmed in bad rayon sweaters, plastic smelling shoes and kitchen utensils that I want to shoot somebody. Nevermind when I come from Albania. It is a wonder I have never been detained for all the amount of trahana, mountain tea, raki, special riccotta cheese, olive oil, olives, my grannie lemons, bakllava, turkish delight, I smuggle through customs. It must be my face I guess.
So Mom and Pop leave on Saturday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that their luggage will not have to be opened at the airport, their plane will make it safe at the destination, and the luggage with their underwear will be the one not lost, not the other way around like it usually happens. Until then, I am praying for my sanity.