All day I’m running errands, dropping by the house sporadically throughout the afternoon. My sister has cleaned the downstairs, dog toys are put away, clutter and dust visitors of the past. My mom has managed to burn a twelve-pound ham. The house smells like sweet charcoal. She’s making her classic go-to salads for dinner parties: wild rice with cranberries, orzo with olives and feta. Tomorrow is my great-aunt’s birthday, and I think nothing of it. I’m scrambling, redrafting to-do lists, wondering if I should get more passport photos for future visas; do I need to unlock my phone from my carrier?; what am I forgetting?
And then my family slowly piles in. My aunt hands me a soft new t-shirt, and I realize all these preparations are for me! A surprise for me! We don’t do anything but watch the Olympic opening ceremony, everyone giving their input on each country’s uniform, their respective chances; everyone waiting for Poland to come out waving the flag. All I can think about, though, is how these people love me enough to gather here in this newly cleaned living room to eat burnt ham and yell at the TV.
Now, what the fuck do I pack?∗