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Sorry, What Did You Bring To Mexico?



 

Like most seniors in high school, I spend a lot of time consumed with my future, my skin, and how to be alone with my boyfriend. When my parents surprise us with another family with our first ever trip to Mexico in the middle of a long, Massachusetts winter, my sister and I are over the cold, dark, moon. They decide to spend the night before we leave at the airport hotel since the flight is at the absolute crack of dawn. This turns out to be a perfect opportunity for me to get them out of (their) house and party with my friends. I swear up and down that I will meet them at Bradley at something like 4:00 in the morning with my “Yes, mom, a CARRY-ON, I get it,” suitcase and spend the night at home.

My parents pack up the Dodge Caravan and head out to the airport in the freezing December air. I wave goodbye to them from the porch and then promptly call my crew and let them know that we were currently in possession of an unsupervised house for the next nine hours.

Of course we have a good time. A really good time. Turns out, a little too good. We're old enough to drive over to a friend’s house and know people who buy us beer. I don’t remember much of the night minus someone saying, “Oh shit, Jo, don’t you have to get to the airport?” Which, in fact, I did. I also had to pack. Which I also don’t remember.

I arrive at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, CT, looking probably not that great. I also arrive with a giant suitcase that I had been specifically and repeatedly instructed not to bring. It isn't the warmest welcome. This trip had been planned because my mother’s good friend was a travel agent and had gotten us a deal which included taking a different line through customs and not waiting for checked luggage. A few demerits for Jo. Once the fiasco of Jo’s Giant Bag dies down, we board the plane. I sit in the center, squished between my father and my sister and for the first (and only) time in my life, proceeded to make appropriate use of the barf bag as the flight attendant passes out snacks..

At this point in the story (and this is, let’s be honest, fair,) no one in the family or the plane is a huge fan of mine.

We get through customs slowly as my giant suitcase proves itself to be a giant pain in the ass, disrupting the carefully laid plans of my mother and her friend. We all pile into a kidnapper van for the long ride to Playa del Carmen, and I (deservingly) have to sit in the last row with my suitcase on my lap.

When we arrive at the hotel, my sister and I are gobsmacked. We’ve never seen water this clear, sand this white, or beaches this beautiful in our entire lives. Everyone is thrilled with the setup and races to our respective rooms to change into our swim suits and soak up as much of this as humanly possible. Leah and I get to our shared room, me dragging my suitcase behind her.

“You better have brought a lot of good clothes. Also, you should brush your teeth.” I am in no position to argue.

I open up my giant suitcase, packed at the apex of my party night and find… nothing.

Ok, not exactly nothing. There’s a single high heel, my junior prom dress, and three framed photos of me and my girlfriends. That’s it. No bathing suit. No shorts. No toothbrush, no underwear, no T shirts, no anything that a normal and/or sober person would think to bring to the beach. Leah looks over my shoulder, into the empty, cavernous suitcase that caused WWIII at the airport.

“You’re an idiot.” Again, I’m in no position to argue.

“I’m going to need to borrow some underwear.”

Leah pauses. She’s always been a good negotiator.

“Fine. For five bucks a day.”


I’m incredulous. But I need underwear. And a bathing suit. And, so desperately, a toothbrush.

And that is why, in all the pictures from Mexico, I am wearing two different sarongs purchased on the street, my younger sister’s underwear, and a mostly see-through bikini with Corona bottles strategically positioned.

Don’t drink and drive, kids, but, also, don’t smoke and pack.

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