Memories: The Rituals of Preparing for a Trip

April 13, 2014 in Jade

Walking Travel

Every momentous occasion in someone’s life is preceded by ritual. In the church they have rituals for holidays and events like communions and weddings. Special gowns are worn, prayers are read, holy blessings seep from the lips of priests. Inviting the in-laws or friends for dinner? We lay out the silver and china. Participating in a race? We wear our lucky socks and go through the rites that will bring luck. Pendants, crystals, lucky stones, lucky rabbit foot, most of us are in the habit of identifying or carrying with us some talisman or other to make magical the special events in our lives. These items have meaning. The talismans and rituals come to life as we pocket them and file them in our memories. When we bless ourselves and genuflect and read prayers and sing songs we bring into our consciousness the solemnity of the ritual. When we set the table we muse over the many times we have previously set out that plate or that knife, lovingly remembering dinners with friends and family. When we prepare for competition we rub that rabbit’s foot and we look at those socks, evoking memories of competitions past.

And so it was yesterday that I took a walk down memory lane as I re-packed my pack, adding new gems and shelving others. I replaced my sleeping bag with a much lighter sleeping bag liner. I am going in June and don’t anticipate too many cool nights so I opted for a lighter sac. As I held my sleeping bag I thought about the memories it would miss in not coming to Spain with me. I also thought about the time I went camping at White Lake, Ontario last summer with my boys and used the sleeping bag then, full of excitement that this was the bag I would be sleeping in on the Camino. It will always be that sleeping bag for me. I do however look forward to other trips when I will use the sleeping bag.

I found mesh bags and re-packed my toiletries. Mesh bags might not seem very exciting but I am already dreaming about how I will be using them in the washrooms of the albergues and how I will hang them up at night to let everything dry out. Even the little things excite me at this point!

I found a pair of Keen sandals on sale. Perfect for my trip as they are waterproof and good for hiking. They now sit beside my pack as I will make memories with them, breaking them in, probably getting a few blisters. I imagine the end of a long day after hiking from town to town whereby after showering Jenn and I find ourselves sitting at a table in town wearing our causal sandals. I imagine too walking around the occasional town, touring, wearing my light and airy sandals instead of my hiking boots.

Only six more weekends to go!

I washed and packed a new skirt I picked up at the thrift store the other day. I tried it on and showed it to my friends. They suggested a dozen different ways that I could wear the skirt and they helped me by wrapping me up and tying and untying the skirt. My skirt already has memory associated with it now. That of friends and laughter and of excitement.

I set out all of the items I will be taking with me (save for a few items of clothing I will be adding closer to) and thought about how each item will bring home with it memories from my trip. The spork I will use while picnicking in the Pyrenees, the hat I will wear to protect me from the sun, the safety pins I will use to hang wet socks from my pack so they can dry in the sun.

My walk downtown also took me through the heart of Kingston.  It was a short walk, only six kilometers. I walked down to market square where a film company was dated the area to that of the 1800’s. I walked past historic limestone edifaces and through stores with old hardwood that creaked and that had shelves so close together that I could barely manoeuvre through with my pack. It was a beautiful day and the walk made me think of the ancient towns I will soon be walking through in France and Spain. Every town will hold memories much like my home town does, bringing home to me memories of the world.

Only six weekends left. That is a lot rabbit foot petting as I go through the rituals of preparing for my trip.