How am I supposed to pack for this?
How am I supposed to pack for this?

I was at the North Face store in University Village today, buying a deeply discounted two-in-one coat for China. I have so many coats and jackets, I could start my own store. But I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time worrying about what to pack. Like, hours. Steve will find me cruising Zappos, desperately searching for THE RIGHT SHOES that will look OK with leggings and a casual dress, a pair of shorts, skinnies AND boot cut jeans and that I can run in. Of course they don’t exist.

Why do I care what I look like in China? I just do. It’s how I’m made. I can’t be remade. So every time I have to pack, I get anxious.

While packing for Paris, I did so many trips to and from my closet that I logged 5,500 steps on my Fitbit. I am a collector of clothes.  And that means way too many choices when it comes to packing. I’ve been going over combinations constantly in my head: leggings + Athleta dress = flats. If freezing, flats = boots. It’s crazy-making.

My packing anxiety isn’t helped by the different climates we’ll encounter during our visit. Beijing is cold in the winter, as is Xi’an, and Guangzhou is subtropical. Let me also point out that we’re going to be there for two-and-a-half weeks. Looking at a forecast doesn’t help. The weather can change quickly here, in little ol’ Seattle, so trying to predict the weather for three separate cities is impossible. Also, I’m not a meteorologist.

So, how do I pack for this situation? (The next person who says “layers” gets punched in the throat.) I’ve been to Asia before, and know how hot and oppressively muggy it can get. But I also hate being cold. I tackled one problem today by purchasing a highly unflattering coat with a zip-out liner.

“You lucked out getting this coat,” said the cashier at North Face. “It’s the end of the season. And this is a rad coat.”

“Yeah, I love that I can zip out the liner,” I said. “I’m going to China on Wednesday, and I have to be ready for anything, weather-wise.”

We chatted for a few minutes about the different climates there, and the pollution. Then he asked if I was going for work, or vacation.

“No, we’re adopting a child,” I replied, while swiping my much-swiped card.

“Whoa. That’s … that’s huge,” he said. I looked up to find him staring at me in amazement. “You’re leaving in, like, a few days to adopt a kid?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Things are a little crazy.”

He shook his head. “That’s so awesome. Life changing.”

Of course I know this whole adventure is life changing. But for some reason, being reminded by the wiry, 20-something cashier at North Face knocked me back. I felt s tiny, icy ball of unease start below my sternum, and roll down to my gut. I felt a little dizzy, so I put my hand on the counter. Life changing. Oh my God. He’s right.

“Well, I hope it’s amazing. I mean, I’m sure it’ll be amazing,” he handed me my bag of coat. “Safe travels, OK?”


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