A Little Corner for Me, Please?

Guess which case is mine?

We’re going traveling next week, and I’m looking forward to it, really I am. My husband and I, and few close friends, plus a few strangers, will be staying at lovely hotels in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and just for good measure, in Hong Kong. In the old days, this might have taken us about 10 days, since we were always trying to squeeze in as much as possible. Now that we have more time (in theory) we can actually hope to see something of the country and the people in each place we visit.

There’s one thing about these hotels, though. I never have enough space to put anything. I expect you’re sympathizing – you understand what it is to have small closets and lots of luggage. That isn’t my problem. My problem is my husband Jay. Within seconds of arriving in any hotel room he has covered every surface with his things. While I am still looking out of the window at the magnificent view, or looking out and moaning about the view of the parking lot, Jay is unpacking his enormous suitcase and spraying the room with his small change, wallet, newspapers, novels, laptop, pens and pill containers. The bathroom of course is never big enough. I can sometimes find a corner in which to stash my make-up bag, but mostly it sits on the toilet cistern. As for the closet, well, if I manage to have a quarter of the hangers for my things, I’m in luck.

He’s not completely thoughtless. I usually have my bedside table to myself, and sometimes I can even manage to squeeze the things from my small carry-on suitcase into one of the drawers under the TV. Why do I travel with such a small suitcase? It’s obvious, isn’t it? I’ve learned over the years to travel light. I have a Kindle, instead of Jay’s six or seven books. I have one pair of shoes in addition to the sneakers which I wear for traveling, compared with Jay’s two spare pairs of shoes. He points out that he’s bigger than me, so his clothes are bigger. A specious argument, I find, since this doesn’t seem to happen with the other couples I know. There, the wife has the huge suitcase, and the husband has the smaller one. Bell-boys and porters always think the larger case is mine. And on the way home, Jay always asks me whether I might have room in my case for some of the things he’s bought while we’re traveling. He’s an inveterate shopper, so I trail along behind him through souks, bazaars and markets, trying unsuccessfully to restrain him. (Other wives are jealous of me that I have a husband who likes to shop – if they only knew…)

And so, when it came to building a house several years ago, the architect turned to me and said, “How big would you like your closet to be?” “Don’t ask me,” I replied, “he’s the one with the clothes…”

We started with two closets, but Jay turned one into a sauna, and now we share the other one. It started out 50/50, but by now, Jay’s hogging 75%, and gaining. My clothes are stored in my suitcase.