I was thinking this week of saying goodbye to the suitcases. Four suitcases that have followed me all my life, I don’t remember a moment of life without them. Am I afraid and guilty of thinking I should let them go? Yes, afraid and guilty and heartbroken.
They are very big. So big in fact that only one set fits in the closet. The other I have moved from room to room and wall to wall. I’ve stacked them on top of one another, or leaned them against a closet wall. I haven’t opened them in years and now look at them and wonder what I’ll find inside, or whether they are empty. They weigh so much it’s hard to tell.
You see my mother bought the two sets of luggage before I was born, or shortly thereafter. At the time I’m sure they were very stylish, she would buy nothing less. She bought them at a time when there were porters everywhere and a lady never expected to carry more than her purse. For decades we traveled with them, me with the red and her with the blue. Then one day we packed them up with all our hopes and fears and brought them with us to our new country from the old.
When we next traveled together we didn’t take them with us any longer. We both bought newer luggage, narrower and with wheels. Stylish of course, my mother and I would buy nothing less. We rolled them through airports and train stations on our own travel adventures, together and alone.
Yet the old suitcases were always home waiting for us and moving with us from country to country, and home to home. Large and amazingly square one set sits in a corner of the room, hoping I will pack them up again and take them to some exotic place. Will I or will I let them go on a new adventure without me?
If my mother is watching me from “the undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns” I hope she knows I’m saying goodbye to the suitcases but not our memories.