The Ins and Outs of a Commuter Relationship

I am in what some might call a ‘commuter relationship’. My boyfriend lives in San Francisco and I live in Santa Clara. He has a car, I don’t. We go back and forth as to who comes to who and it’s generally for the whole weekend. Because of this, I have had to become adept at packing exactly the right things to get me through 2-4 days of having no access to my stuff at home. Over the course of our relationship, I have come to realize that there are several very necessary items that you should bring with you, and some that you should leave at home. For anyone else out there in a commuter relationship, here’s my list of what I think is necessary and what isn’t.

Things to bring:

  1. Headphones. As I write this, I am sitting on Caltrain headphone-less, wishing to god I had remembered the little pink ear buds that make any trip so much more enjoyable. Always bring them- you may have to block out a crying baby or a creepy old guy you wind up sitting next to because there are no other seats on the train. As I am, at this very moment.
  2. A brush. I don’t know about other male households, but my boyfriend’s has a distinct lack of hair brushes. Buy a travel-sized brush (or better yet, one of the foldable brushes that has the pop-out bristles) that can fit into your purse. You will be horribly upset when you discover that, after a windy day or long night of canoodling, there is no brush to tame the wild rat’s nest that is your hair.
  3. Waterproof shoes. There’s nothing worse than being unprepared for the rain. Short of buying new shoes, you’re going to be stuck with the ones you brought with you and if the weather changes, as it is wont to do, you will be out of luck. Once, when I made the foolish mistake of only bringing boots that were apparently incredibly susceptible to rain, I actually wore plastic bags over my socks and under my boots. It kept my toes perfectly dry but every time I took a step, I crackled like the bag lady that rolls her shopping cart full of plastic bags around the city. You don’t want to be a crackly bag lady. I recommend getting boots that you can wear during your commute and a pair of flats that can be stuck into some small zipped area of your bag.
  4. Layers of clothing. Simply take the top shirt off and voila! A whole new outfit. This probably isn’t the most hygienic of practices, but when you have a limited amount of space to carry clothes in, you’re just going to have to re-wear some clothes and get over it.
  5. A small bottle of conditioner. In my experience, men, or at least the men I’ve dated, do not use conditioner. If you have thick hair like I do, a shower without conditioner results in fluffy, not-so-nice feeling hair. Grab a travel sized conditioner and you’re good to go. This is more of a one-time necessity. After your first commute up, just leave it in his bathroom and then you’re set for following weekends.

Things you don’t need to bring:

  1. A sweatshirt. He’s a man, he will have plenty. And in any case, men’s sweatshirts are way more comfortable than women’s. It might have something to do with the largeness of the article of clothing or the hopelessly romantic notion that it is his and you are wearing it. Either way, it’s just how it is. Leave yours at home.
  2. A hair dryer/ straightener. These take up space. They are bulky and heavy. He will love you anyway, even if your hair is frizzy and warped because it has dried naturally. But, if you absolutely must do something with your hair, pick one- don’t bring both- and try to find a travel sized device.
  3. Toothpaste. That is one thing that he will definitely have, and if he doesn’t, that’s just strange and you might want to reconsider your relationship. Don’t forget your toothbrush however- that’s a necessity.
  4. Every Caltrain ticket you’ve ever received. I know this isn’t an actual item, but if you are taking public transportation, as I do, then I highly recommend throwing out your ticket as soon as you get off the train. The other day, the conductor asked for my ticket and when I looked into the pocket of my purse that I generally keep such things in, I discovered upwards of 6 different tickets from different days. This makes it rather difficult to find the right one and clutters your purse. Throw them away.
  5. All of your makeup. I highly recommend selecting just the things you need (mascara, eyeliner, your favorite eye shadow etc.) and limiting yourself to those select items. Carrying a makeup bag around adds a lot of unnecessary weight to your luggage.

And there you have it, the ins and outs of what is necessary to bring, and what is not, in a commuter relationship.

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