In Transit

I’m heading to Chicago today, my first long distance business trip since I started my consulting practice just over four years ago. The sun is out, the skies are clear, at least for now, and it looks like I’m going to make it out of Logan before a Nor’easter barrels up the coast this evening.

After all, it is officially spring in New England. Why not more snow?

I’m looking forward to the trip and meeting my clients in person. Wonderful as it is to talk over FaceTime and Skype and GoToMeeting, there is a limit to how much you can pick up from an image on a slice of computer screen. So now we’re going to spend two days digging into content and messaging for a revitalized corporate website. It’s a puzzle that I love to solve, for some great people working to improve the quality of healthcare outcomes.

Four years ago, as I searched for job openings after I had to shut down my marketing department of a dozen-plus years because the college where I worked was in dire financial straits, I had no clue where I was headed. It’s been a long, slow haul, starting up a consultancy, and this is a very sweet watershed moment.

But before I get too comfortable savoring my progress, there is the bigger problem to solve: how finally to join the carry-on luggage club.

Up to now, I have always checked my bags on flights. I am very wary of straining my hands when I travel, lugging a suitcase, even on wheels, lifting, pulling, hoisting. But the last time I flew, my luggage got lost at JFK and took nearly a day to arrive on my doorstep. Plus, there is the added $25 luggage fee, both ways. And the time factor.

So I’m taking the plunge. On Sunday, I spent the afternoon searching for the right 9” x 14” x 22” suitcase that I actually can manage. I researched on the Internet. I tried various bags, testing zippers, pull handles, interior pockets and overall touch and feel.

With luck, I found the perfect suitcase, olive green, with sturdy construction, padded straps, full swivel wheels so I can pull it sideways as well as behind me, and a handle that lifts with the lightest touch of my thumb. All the zipper pulls are either flexible or have comfortable, soft tabs. It was an investment, but for my hands’ well being, worth the money.

Then there was the issue of all the creams and ointments that I need to manage my finger ulcers and skin. This led me to the discovery of GoTubes, which are squishy, washable plastic tubes in 1.5 and 3.0 oz. sizes that meet FAA 3-1-1 standards for carry-on. The tubes have wide mouths, so it’s easy to scoop in the creams and squeeze them out. No waste.

My third find was a soft, large purse with magnetic clasps, so I don’t have to use zippers to remove all the stuff you need at the last minute to get through security clearance. It has a center, flat zippered pocket (only one zipper to deal with) for my laptop and deep side pockets on either side, so I don’t damage my hands when digging around. The straps are soft and wide enough to stay put on my narrow shoulders. All essential criteria for ease of travel and minimal skin strain.

It’s been a scramble to get everything together in time and finish all my work before departing. Last night I was cursing at a pair of black wool crepe trousers, another great find but two inches too long. Nothing like fumbling with a needle and black-on-black thread that you can barely see because your reading glasses need a stronger prescription and your fingers can’t feel the thread as you hem. The evening was saved by my local public radio station, playing an hour of Aretha Franklin’s best hits, because today is her 72nd birthday.

So, happy birthday, Aretha. I’m off to Chicago. Have a great week, all!

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com

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