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Don’t Leave Home Without It

“Bring a folding chair and we’ll meet outside and sit safe distances apart,” my friend said.  As I walked out my back door to join five girlfriends for a backyard visit, I did a mental checklist to be sure I had everything I needed.  Keys. Phone. Purse. Sunglasses. Water bottle. A mask and chair, which stay in my van. 

            Pulling out of my driveway, I thought about the mask and chair – two things I never needed until the COVID-19 pandemic. A mask hangs from the windshield wiper lever and a fold-up chair lays in the trunk. 

            As I drove, I thought of all the many other things that I keep in my van.  In every vehicle I’ve ever owned there’s been a flashlight, maps, and an emergency bag, supplied with jumper cables and a first aid kit. I know I can get directions using a GPS or a maps app, but I like paper maps.  Currently, there are fold-up maps of Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky and a United States Atlas.  And I have a magnifying glass to read the tiny print, but was used recently to see a splinter in a finger.

            Wet wipes, aka baby wipes, a roll of paper towels, disposable diapers, and small plastic trash bags were staples when our children were young decades ago.  I no longer carry diapers, but those other items still come in handy.  As the kids got older, I added a blanket and plastic tablecloth for times when someone was cold or we wanted to have a spur-of-the-moment picnic and needed something to sit on. Last week when I hauled bedding plants, the plastic cloth kept the van floor clean and was easily wiped off.  I rolled up the blanket to brace a rose bush in a gallon-size pot.

            When my Grands began riding with me fifteen years ago, I set a bottle of hand sanitizer in a cup holder and have had one since, and it is refilled often.  A few books, including search-and-find-picture books and riddle books, are in the backseat pockets.  Pencils and paper are always available. 

            Arriving at my friend’s driveway, I wondered if a mask and a folding chair would become forever travelling supplies, like wet wipes did. Because my back is happier when I sit straight, I like a director’s chair with canvas back and seat. Maybe I could switch to a folding chair that fits inside a small bag; it’d take up less space and be easier to carry, but not as comfortable.

            When I arrived at the meeting place and opened my van trunk, I was surprised my chair wasn’t there. Thankfully, I had my plastic tablecloth to sit on so I didn’t have to sit on the ground. I put on my mask and joined my friends.              Back home, I found my chair leaning against the garage wall, right where I’d put it the day before when I took it out to haul boxes, and I put it back in the van.  No one should leave home without a mask and a folding chair.

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