I Left my Baggage in Chicago
Dropping my baggage
The original meaning of dropping or leaving your baggage had to do with travel. Later on, it became a psychological tool of leaving behind what no longer serves you well. This past Monday, I had the unwanted opportunity to leave my favourite suitcase in Chicago.
After a fantastic weekend event that exceeded all my expectations, four of us stayed over for one additional night. We had grand plans for Monday, and my flight didn’t leave until after five, so there was time to do things like the famed Architectural Boat Ride in Chicago.
Sadly that was not to be. The handle on my favourite, go everywhere with me, suitcase would not go down. Pushing in the little catches, wiggling and jiggling, and carefully applying pressure – well, nothing helped. Finally, my friend Gregg took a mallet and seriously banged on it but not a budge. This suitcase was built to withstand abuse and has a lifetime guarantee and replacement with no exceptions, and most of all, I treasured this suitcase. Everywhere I went this past 12 years, this suitcase came with me.
The airlines won’t take it because the extended handle can get caught and create havoc. I had to face the unwanted fact that I would need to leave this suitcase behind.
And I had to buy a new suitcase quickly on Memorial Day in the USA. My friend drove me to a Target, where I had five suitcases to choose from, each one less appealing than the last. I did select a duffle bag type in an unopened box. When I opened it up, it wasn’t what I thought, but I had something to put my belongings into to take on the plane.
As I said goodbye to my Briggs and Riley perfect carry-on that had expansion room for checking, if need be, I was discombobulated. Any other suitcase I owned, I could have easily parted ways with, but this was tough. I couldn’t even bring it back to get a replacement. We had reached the end of our partnership.
As I packed up my new suitcase, I was relieved to have one, but my mind was still trying to figure out a way to bring my old one back.
And then I remembered the cake.
Many years ago, I baked a birthday cake for my Mother. There were about 13 people coming to dinner and it was a beautiful sunny April day. When I went to check the cake, I saw that it wasn’t rising. It seemed odd, but I waited for five more minutes and no change. And then I saw the problem. The bowl with the dry ingredients was sitting in a corner of my counter, waiting to be added to the batter. I knew immediately that this cake would never rise. Still, I checked a couple of more times.
And then my son said. “Mom, it looks like what needs doing is to bake another cake – right now.” And I did.
The suitcase felt the same. I didn’t want it to be true. But eventually, I had to face the fact that this suitcase was not getting on the plane with me and I had best go and buy a new one.
And I did.
I am generally not attached to things, but I discovered I was attached to that suitcase. Before I left, I thanked my suitcase and decided then and there to leave all my old psychological baggage behind, as well. What no longer is necessary can remain in Chicago tucked away in that suitcase. Somehow it seemed ok after that. New beginnings and making meaning is what I do.
I wonder what things you are attached to that one day you will need to let go of. As we live longer and simplify our surroundings, we all come up against this dilemma. I have taken false pride in my ability to do so but I came up short with my suitcase, of all things. And not a glamourous one, but rather a practical, reliable, efficient workhorse kind of suitcase. And I counted on it.
Good effort to all of you when this happens to you. I say “when” rather than “if” because it seems to be universal.
1:) Information and Registration Link for the online program that begins June 6th, hosted by the Sorrento nd Naramata Centres in British Columbia.
2:)The first suitcase is what I said goodbye to. You see the extension that wouldn’t go down. The second suitcase is holding a carry-on, my purse and a bike helmet. This was my first trip, and the photo was taken in a small hotel room in Rome en route to a bike trip in Croatia in 2012.
3:) A small joy this past weekend was meeting a stranger, a Syrian woman with her grandchild, who was walking in the opposite direction I was walking with a friend in Darien Illinois. We said hello, spoke briefly, and continued on our way. On the return, we met again—this time, she handed each of us two beautiful daisies. We stopped and talked a longer time and I was profoundly grateful for her gift of two daisies. I also felt overwhelmingly lucky that I never had to go through what she and others go through to leave their home and come to another country. This gentle encounter was a highlight. I took a picture as the daisies dried so I could remember her and our meeting.
5:) Finally, I will say good night. When we meet next week, it will be June. May you take good care of your precious days – by that, I mean spend time outdoors, do things that you love and hang out with people who mean the world to you. Let go of what you no longer need. Many thanks and warmest wishes, Trudy