Tis the night before leaving and the rhythm is always kind of the same. I haven’t even packed my backpack yet. That comes later. My plane leaves in eight hours. What’s really important to me right now, though, is cooking and laundry. And then there’s the endless minutia of details that will all fall gracefully into place as they always do. Sleep will also come later.

I just played an Iron Chef match with myself. The goal is to use up all the produce in my fridge before leaving. I just made a delicious spinach, mushroom and feta couscous. Drat! I just wasn’t able to use everything. So in a couple of hours I’ll probably get really crazy and take that bag of carrots and that bag of celery and the renegade onions and all the fresh garlic I can find and make some sort of minestrone and freeze it for when I return.

I have to put all of my laundry away and grab the select few well-thought-out articles of clothing and accessories that I’ll be taking with me. This trip is only five days long, so I’ll carry only my Italian army backpack and I’ll try to keep it as light as possible. As a general rule for myself, I do not check baggage. Traveling light is a fine art in my opinion, so be sure there will be much more on this topic in upcoming posts.

I never sleep much the night before a journey and usually wake up well before dawn. When I do wake up, the first thing I’ll do is change the bedsheets. This is out of courtesy to my house-sitter*, this time around. But even when I don’t have a house-sitter, I always put fresh sheets on my bed and clean my house before leaving. This is so that when I’m out there in my travels, I can push my body to exhaustion and come home caked in dirt and grime, knowing I’ll be sleeping on clean fresh sheets.

*I recommend house-sitters like my friend Ryan. Every time I come home after he’s been watching my place, my floors are much shinier than I’ve ever been able to get them on my own. What a deal!