I finally did it. I put my suitcase back in the closet. I hate unpacking! By putting it “away” I am confirming the sad fact that there is NO travel in my immediate future. This could magically change but chances are it’s going to be a little while. It took me a whole month to unpack from Thailand and that was only so I could use it to rush to MN for a weekend (which I actually left the marvelously tattered thing there and stole my mom’s new suitcase in its place to take back). For a while I let my friendcase stay in my room as an affirmation that I would soon be needing it to travel to some crazy and wonderful paradise. instead it sat, taking up space, taunting me, morning after morning as I dumbly lurched about my tiny room for some appropriate “business casual” apparel. He just sat there, staring, mumbling shit like;
“going to work, huh? Sucks for you. Remember when we were in Europe? That was a lot cooler than here, huh. Or how about when we took that helicopter to Monaco, that was awesome. I bet you wish you were going somewhere better than the chubby clinic, huh? ”
And in my early morning ire I’d glare back at him and say aloud, “You weren’t even there rollerdonkey! My old and apparently less offensive suitcase was!”
As I was exiling the cruel capsule back to the mud-room closet I was overcome by a familiar feeling; baggage anxiety. Why was I feeling that now? It didn’t make any sense.
Baggage Anxiety- the feeling one experiences before and during the baggage claim process. Will I find the right carousel? Will my luggage arrive? All of it? Will my items be intact? Will I get hurt in the process of retrieval?
My baggage anxiety stems from a long history of luggage letdowns. It all started on my first trip. I was thirteen years old, going to visit my Nana in Arizona. When I returned home, after a week of pre-teen fun in a desert home pool, my suitcase didn’t accompany me as far as I could tell. I sat, waiting, no suitcase. I eventually got it back after some old couple opened up “their” suitcase to find tweetybird slippers and a JTT poster. Since then I’ve had one bag go completely missing, never to be recovered and several “temporarily” missing bags, including my latest trip to Thailand. I have also been a victim of good ole fashioned baggage looting. A pair of Stella McCartney shoes and a bag full of my dirty underwear disappeared from my suitcase before christmas last year on a flight back from Spain. I had locks on my luggage, useless locks obviously.
I am continually appalled at the lack of baggage claim etiquette out there, it baffles me! Everyone rushes to the baggage claim carousel which is dumb because you end up waiting at least five to fifteen minutes anyways. Everyone attempts to secure the ideal position, close to the baggage shoot-slide but just far enough to have time to identify and prepare to seize. Everyone is spacious and uninterested until that first suitcase shoots down the belt. Suddenly it looks like a five year old soccer game and the suitcase is the ball. Some lady has pushed her way in front of you to see if it’s her bag, it’s not but she doesn’t give you your spot back, she remains, bitch. There’s pushing, grumbling and when your bag finally arrives it takes all your strength to push through the crowd only to lift the thing by yourself, no help, and use it as an oversized shield pushing the mob aside so you can escape.
It was a small flight and therefore the carousel had plenty of space. I moved some distance down the line to avoid the congestion. A man came up to my left and another to my right. As I watched for my suitcase I also kept an eye on them so I’d have time to move back when their luggage arrived. I made a wrong judgement when I assumed the oversized hot pink suitcase did not belong to my neighbors. Without warning the guy on my left lunged forward and grabbed the hideous thing and with an ugly grunt hurled it over the side and directly into my left shin. I immediately yelped (worthy of the F-word) and shot him a look. No apology, no “are you ok?” He simply elbowed past and wheeled the evil bitch away, leaving me on one leg cursing the baggage claim gods. My bag never came…
There are many of these memories, too many to recount for you. I’ve thought of writing a book, “Baggage Claim Woes” “Baggage Lame” “Tales From the Carousel” etc…
I went in and out of these memories as I put my luggage in the closet today. Goodbye travel, for now. And as I walked solemnly back to my room and stared at the empty space where my fixture of freedom once stood, I reminded myself that it was just a suitcase. And with that thought I opened the drawer, grabbed my passport and propped it on my dresser… the same affirmation… taking up a lot less space.