When Macy’s had a sale -- the kind of offer you can’t refuse -- I decided to send my suitcase to the graveyard of high-tech nylon and inner mesh pockets. I bought a spanking new Travelpro that rolls faster than a speeding bullet, is stronger than a locomotive, and leaps tall escalators in a single bound.
Then I marched to the attic and dragged out the worn, tattered, beaten, battered Ricardo I’ve been lugging for 15 years. I parked it at the sidewalk next to the bathroom trash and leftover dinner. Then I strutted back to the house slapping one hand triumphantly against the other. I’m done with that baby I said, good riddance.
I could see it from my window -- waiting like a loose sock, a single shoe, a lone teddy bear left dirty and useless. Waiting, like it did so many times at so many airports . . . waiting for me.
It looked like a broken down hooker needing one last fling. After years of flat-on-its-back service, could I really toss it away like so many grains of beach vacation sand?
I rolled it back to the house, realizing it deserved a more proper goodbye.
You followed me everywhere like a dedicated soldier. You can’t say that about hardly anything. I was the leader, you were the follower. No matter how fast I buzzed through airports, you stayed with me, you rolled while I ran. Loyal as you were, a big bulbous bag of over-packed fluff, sometimes you embarrassed me. I wanted to pretend you weren’t mine. Still you stayed true-blue, sturdy and stout, as I paid extra at check-in because you held so darn much.
I stuffed you like a poor goose, bumped you down staircases, kicked you forward, pulled you back, sat on you, slept on you, yelled at you because I wanted to be free of you. Once I almost threw you down a hill, though you steadfastly held onto every single thing I needed. If you’d been lost, I’d have been lost too.
You followed me surer than a show dog at Westminster, despite no training, no treats, no pats, no warm bed at the end of a day. You were manhandled, suffocated, left shivering in the corner of a chilly soulless container while I flew high and mighty above you.
Then you did it again and again and again.
You were re-routed to places I’ve never been while I paced frantically looking for you, a madwoman stuck in a smelly outfit. Once I thought about nothing but you for days, talked about nothing but you, wanted nothing but you, ‘til you faithfully reappeared in charge of every wrinkled tee shirt I owned.
I was so happy to see you I cried. In your own rugged way, I think you cried too. Was that a new “tear” on your plastic rim, or a salty “tear” from the rim of your hidden eye?
You are the most sophisticated, worldly, helpful inanimate object I’ve ever had. And in your own voiceless way you know things -- who stole my jeans and iPod in Marrakech, how it felt to have your whole body shrink-wrapped in Johannesburg so no creep would put their hands inside you, how it feels to circle round and round wondering if some stranger will mistake you for her own.
You know old friend, gazing at you upright and rolling but well-scuffed and frayed, I wonder if you still have a few more journeys left? I must admit, I’ve got some serious scuffs of my own.
Tell you what. How about I put you next to the new guy and maybe you can teach that ace what really goes on in the luggage hold -- how you won those scars, year after year, mile after mile.
Stay ready and able my friend. I have a feeling any day now for old times’ sake, you and I -- two of a well-worn kind -- will go a-travellin’.
June 4, 2014