So I am standing in front of my wardrobe. Actually that's a lie. I am standing in front of *one* of my wardrobes, because I actually have three. And a chest of drawers. And randomly scattered piles of clothes living in metaphorical "wardrobes" around the house, admittedly some of them on the floor - the "floordrobe" as a highly esteemed colleague cleverly termed it - but all of that doesn't sound as snappy to say, so for the purposes of this post let's just refer to it all as one big mammoth overstuffed wardrobe.
To recap, I'm standing in front of my wardrobe. And I have absolutely, positively nothing to wear.
My secondment to Kununurra starts on Tuesday next week, and I'm currently struggling with the biggest challenge of all - not "how do I unravel some of the complexities of the impact of welfare and alcohol on the Indigenous communities in the area", but the much more serious question of what does one pack to wear for five weeks away in the East Kimberlies?
I've been advised to dress down for the office in Kununurra. Corporate wear is unheard of (which is perfectly understandable, because who would shoehorn yourself into the full kit of suit, stockings, heels and accessories unless you had to?) and everyone there wears t-shirts and three-quarter pants. Of which I own precisely none.
I've been advised to bring "dress shorts" - is there such a thing? - and "weekend shorts" and "smart sandals". Sandals! I think the last time I owned a pair of sandals was also probably in primary school. And then there's the question of the shorts themselves ..... I have no idea of what constitutes a "dress short" as opposed to a "weekend short". All shorts are weekend items in my opinion. In fact, shorts of all kinds are quite foreign to me. Do my black linen Laura Ashley shorts count as dress shorts? Or are they *too* dressy? Or are they weekend? Oh, the quandary.
The temperature gets up past thirty-five degrees most days - so I need light, floaty things with long sleeves that will perform the dual function of keeping me cool as well as keeping as much sun as possible off my skin - but the weather gets down to 15 degrees at night, so I'll also need pants and cardies and possibly a jacket. Maybe leggings, as an alternative?
And how do I choose which cardy and jacket to take? It's beginning to dawn on me that I won't be able to coordinate all my outfits, shoes and accessories as I usually do. And not coordinating is anathema to me - I simply do not know how to do it. If by some chance it happens accidentally (usually when I'm packing my gym bag the night before), then I spend all day feeling wrong and broken and awkward and have to go home and change at the first opportunity before the panic completely takes over. Not coordinating will be - I don't know - it's pathological. It's part of me. It's who I AM, dammit, it's my identity!!
Ahem. Do you see what even the mere thought of not coordinating does to me?? I've never had any talent for the 'capsule wardrobe'.
I can't make it simple by just taking black clothes either, for two reasons: one, I'll boil to a crisp with all that absorbed heat, and two, no one will take me seriously, and both things - either death or dismissal - will doom me before I even start. People in the country just don't wear black in the same way Melburnians do. (In fact, not many people anywhere wear black in the same way that Melburnians do, a fact for which we should be profoundly grateful). So I will be taking colours, which is totally fine with me because I love colour, but how am I going to match everything to just one or two cardies? Impossible.
And then there's pajamas. I have to buy pajamas too, because I'm not only sharing accommodation with my other fellow secondees, but - get this - I will be sharing a room. You heard me right. A ROOM. A room! I haven't shared a room with anyone except My One True Love in over a decade, and he is challenging enough. And so I need jammies, not little camisole-y jammies that are actually comfy to sleep in for the hot weather, but proper shorty pajamas of the kind I haven't owned since, oh, primary school at least, so that I am decent enough to walk from bedroom to bathroom in mixed company. Where exactly does one buy shorty pajamas - as winter approaches and all the shops are filled with flannelette? Why especially didn't I think of this a month ago, when I had time and I could have *made* some??
AND, as if that weren't enough to think about, there are the Kununurra Races on while I'm there. There's a fashion on the field competition. But here's the rub, can I also squeeze racewear (and a hat) into what is already going to be a clearly overstuffed suitcase??
Then there's swimmers, and a sleeping bag (I have to bring it), and toiletries, and at least four pairs of shoes - running shoes, aforementioned sandals, weekend shoes and thongs - plus a nice outfit for dinners, and a hat, and buckets of sunscreen, and two sets of exercise gear, and, and, and, and, and I'm beginning to hyperventilate now.
Oh dear. I think I need to go and sit down, with a cool drink, and start meticulously planning. Then I'll do a trial pack, and leave it overnight while I sleep on things, and then in the morning when I wake up my subconscious will have sorted it out and I'll know what I need to take out and what I should put in instead.
Now, if I just do that for each of the four nights left before I go, I should be fine.
I'm sure of it. I'll be fine. I'll be fine. (insert agitated rocking in a corner here......)