Briefly as a teenager, I lived in Texas.
You would have thought that my time there, during the years most girls learn to shop and apply makeup, would have changed me for the better.
I would have developed a fashion sense, learned to do something with my hair (besides wash it), and figured out those little grown-up tricks that would have kept my skin porcelain and eyes fetchingly wide for decades to come.
Apparently, I should have stayed longer. A fashionista I'm not -- a fact that became painfully obvious this week when I reconnected with two Texas-raised cousins for a mini-reunion.
The texts began flying days before we arrived.
"What are you planning to wear?" asked one, who recalled a prior get-together involving beautifully matched scarves and accessories.
Confessing to be the less pulled-together of the two, she said she didn't want to be Cinderella's pitiful stepsister. Since they were nice enough to copy me on the exchange, I instinctively raised my hand and volunteered for the role.
"You will be fine," they assured me.
But they had no idea. At that moment, I was already en route, packed for an earlier stop, with two pairs of zip-off pants, some black pants, a stack of drip-dry T-shirts and a half-dozen laundry hooks.
My MO for traveling has become a game called Fitting A Week's Worth of Clothes Into A Carry-on. I declare myself the winner when I can hoist the bag into the overhead bin and wind up wearing everything in the suitcase at least once.
I've developed several tricks for this, of which I am most proud. For example: Transport all your liquid foundation in a flip-top contact-lens case. Fit all your makeup into a plastic sandwich bag. Wear your bulkiest shoes and jacket(s) on the plane, even if it's 80 degrees at takeoff.
But when I met Cousin No. 1 at the airport in my khaki zip-offs, black T-shirt, two jackets and gym shoes, I began to worry. The self-declared less pulled-together of the two was pulling a large suitcase. Every hair was in place. Her makeup was flawless. And her artsy black-and-white top said, "I am fun!" (which she is).
Cousin No. 2, also with perfect hair and skin, outdid her, with what turned out to be her signature look for traveling: coordinated blouse, jacket, pants, belt, fashionista Keds (these exist), and a chunky gold necklace.
I immediately heard my mother whisper, "Beauty knows no pain," probably knowing that at some point in later life -- such as now -- I'd regret not taking the time to moisturize my skin or apply makeup artfully or model clothes with girlfriends till I had a sense of style beyond "comfortable."
I decided not to share how much time I'd saved -- cumulatively -- with my 10-minute morning "beauty routine" and worked instead to pick up what helpful information I could by eavesdropping. I learned about eyelash extensions, a lipstick called Black Lace Rabbit that can make any lipstick a shade darker, and Shout packets for your suitcase.
I took good notes and promised myself I'd become more of a grown-up. But I'm paranoid about fiddling with my eyes, and I've gotten by for years on just two shades.
So I'm probably just going with the Shout. Sorry, Mom.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.