My friend Rachel and I have done a fair amount of traveling together over the last ten years. Mostly we’ve gone to dog shows, with occasional side trips thrown in. We like a lot of the same things—deerhounds, horses, art, jewelry, and husbands who stay home with the animals while we jaunt around the country. Rachel had a military career before settling down in Sierra Vista, AZ, and I know it drives her crazy that I am ALWAYS late because she’s always buttoned up early and squared away. She has a big cargo van, which is even more spacious than my Ford passenger van, so occasionally she helps me out when I need to transport things. In exchange for putting up with my tardiness, Rachel gets to observe my idiosyncrasies and provide our other friends with endless entertainment by telling stories about me.
In August Rachel agreed to meet me in Colorado at my parent’s condominium there, which had just been sold, to help me transport my father’s artwork and my mother’s “collectibles” (yes, Mom loved tschotkes too!) back to San Diego. Our mission was to sort through twenty years of belongings in twenty four hours from Friday evening to Saturday night, then hightail it back home 976 miles on Sunday morning to be back at work by Monday. It was a tall order, but we managed. Most of the furniture was to remain behind to be picked up and donated to Habitat for Humanity, including an almost new and very large television set. Rachel’s tv at home had just gone on the blink, so I offered her the behemoth in the living room. She said, “Let’s see how much room we have in the van.” I said, “Let’s put it in soon, then.” She said, “I don’t think we’ll be able to get it down the stairs—it’s heavy!” When all was said and done and oil paintings and antiques were sandwiched safely between multiple dog beds, space was at a premium and the television stayed in the living room.
At nine am on Sunday morning, Rachel was seated in the driver’s seat, ready to roll. In true obsessive compulsive fashion, I told her that I needed to make one more “pass-through”, just to make sure we weren’t forgetting anything important. She sighed and watched the minutes tick away while I ran back into the house. I realized I had forgotten the closet in the master bathroom. And that’s when I discovered the treasure trove! Packaged up neatly into one gallon Zip Lock bags, were dozens of complete first aid kits—the remnants of my father’s many overseas travels. Each bag was perfect—alcohol wipes, benzoin, gloves, suture material, gauze, dressings, steroid and antibiotic creams, and band-aids. Many, many band-aids. My heart was aflutter—I saw a first aid kit for every family car, for the barn, for the spare suitcase, for the dog grooming bag. While Rachel waited patiently in the car, I stuffed the first aid kits into garbage bags, laundry bags, grocery bags—anything that would hold them. She watched in dismay as I ran to the car and tucked my treasures into every spare nook and cranny. I was very proud of my resourcefulness, and I offered her some of the take.
Four months later, she still enjoys telling the story. She regaled the guests who had come to her home a few weeks ago to pick up their new deerhound puppies with the tale of her crazy friend, who walked away from a brand new big screen tv, not to mention crystal and porcelain and her mother’s mink coat (which incidentally made her look like the Michelin tire man) in order to stuff BAGS OF BANDAIDS IN THE CAR! I let her have her moment of hilarity. But I know, in my heart, that those band-aids will prove to be far more useful than the mink coat. The next time someone calls out—at a dog show, on an airplane, at the gas station—“Is there a doctor in the house??!!!”—like a good Boy Scout, I will be prepared.