And if we know how we should be, then anything else is just lazy.
So even though this is my first trip with a boyfriend, I became determined to be awesome at it.
I want to be the Dolce Vita version of myself. I should be the type of woman who wears a dress and espadrilles to go biking, who sports a silk head scarf and earrings on the beach.
This was my Great Romantic Getaway, and I should look the part.
My boyfriend certainly didn't put this pressure on me; he doesn't sweat this stuff. He will be traveling in Europe for work for more than a month and he's only taking a carry-on. I am joining him for two weeks, and I might need a carry-on for my shoes.
But that's to be expected. My boyfriend's wardrobe could be described as Spartan chic — not that it is filled with leather and loincloths (I wish), but that it contains a sensible option for most occasions and not a thing more. The five dress shirts hung up in his closet have so much room to breathe, they look like they're for sale.
Meanwhile, my closet is vomiting hangers. My excuse is that my apartment closet is tiny, but it might also be because I throw nothing away.
Who knows? Some day I may want that pink dress I wore to the eighth-grade dinner dance.
When I can't find space on the rack to hang something, I wedge the new hanger in between the others and it stays in place.
Joan Crawford's head would explode.
Finding things, much less paring them down for a suitcase, was no easy task.
First, I auditioned each of my bathing suits to see which I felt the most confident in, and I didn't feel confident in any.
So I packed them all.
I can diet on the plane.
Then I started trying on jeans to find the pair that were washed recently enough to be cute, but not so recently as to be sausage casing.
I set to work hand-washing the good bras while trying in vain to hunt down the long-lost matching bottoms.
Oh right, I remembered. I'm too cheap to buy matching bottoms in the first place.
I wondered how late Victoria's Secret was open.
In my Boy Scout frenzy of preparedness, I envisioned every possible occasion short of a red carpet and packed accordingly. Before I knew it, my closet was clean.
The Leaning Tower of Pisa erupting from my suitcase was another story.
This was so unlike me. I'm usually low-maintenance. My bathroom mirror is the only one in my entire apartment, and I only use the blow dryer on the dog after his bath.
But I had lost all sense of perspective; everything had to be perfect — I had to be perfect. On my new mental checklist of insecurity, it seemed of critical importance that I find a sunscreen that wouldn't make my face look like an oil slick.
I rushed to the mall for emergency cosmetics. The saleswoman showed me a foundation with sunscreen that called itself "Camera Ready."
Something about the name gave me pause.
Is that what I really want to be?
"It will hold up all day," the saleswoman said. "It was developed by makeup artists for models."
When models go somewhere exotic, it isn't vacation. It's work.
This trip is supposed to be my reward from working, but I had turned it into a job.
Sure, I want to look good, but mostly I want to explore and taste and see and do.
I want verbs, not adjectives.
I'd like to create great memories, not perfect pictures.
This trip isn't an audition, or a job, or a test.
It's a treat. It should be fun.
Now that's a "should" I can get behind.
Look for Lisa and Francesca's new book, "Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter." Visit Francesca at francescaserritella.com.