It felt so strange to leave home for the first time since my Dannica’s passing. I don’t mean ‘leave home’ as in going to the store or to the coast for the day but to be getting on a plane and leaving the state. The last time I flew on a plane, she was still alive. The last time I returned home from a trip like that she had three days to live but I didn’t know it.
I cried as my husband drove me to the shuttle stop early in the morning. He asked me why I was crying and I told him I didn’t know, I just felt like crying. There were many whys, though, and I knew if I started talking about them I’d start sobbing without knowing when I’d be able to stop. So I pulled it together and saved the thoughts and feelings to explore later when I could be alone with them first.
My packing began in my mind a couple of weeks before and led me to the idea that I wanted to buy a new suitcase… a big suitcase, really big. I already had a great suitcase; it had been plenty for all I needed during fifteen years worth of trips. I liked to travel light. Somehow, this time I couldn’t manage to do that.
I flipped open the paper and whaddaya know? Luggage 50-60% off at Khol’s. The universe was telling me it agreed with me on the new, really big suitcase. I found just what I was looking for and it’s even purple. If I curled up tight, I think I could pack myself in it.
I started piling things in. My things, way too many of them, my clothes, again way too many of them. Shoes. I never pack extra shoes. My slippers. It’s going to be 111 degrees in Phoenix…so what. They’re my slippers and I’m bringing them with me. Yes, and my blow dryer even though there is one in the hotel room. My own full-sized bar of the soap I like. Full-sized bottles of hairspray and other toiletries instead of the little ones I’m not used to. I packed my pillows, both of them; my journals and my rainbow of pens, a book on tape. I even packed the clip fan from the kitchen counter. That actually came in handy. I’d pack it again.
Finally, I stood back and saw all my stuff waiting to be zipped in. I contemplated whether to put a piece of tape over the tag that reads ‘Light Weight’ so no one strains themselves lifting it and then I started to really see myself. I watched myself arrange, zip, unzip, rearrange, zip again with curiosity and fascination.
Eventually it became clear to me that in leaving home for the first time, there just wasn’t a security blanket big enough to wrap myself in; me and my new filters and my still fragile, still forming new identity. The only way I could go was to bring as much of home with me as I could.
I simply couldn’t bear the thought of possibly wanting something while away that I couldn’t have. I live day in and day out with that feeling since my Dannica passed. Feeling even a little bit more of it caused more anxiety that I realized.
“Thank you,” I said to each shuttle driver and the sky caps as I tipped each of them for helping me bear the weight of my trip, my grief, my journey. “Thank you,” I say now to my new suitcase, “and I hope I don’t need to take you on every trip I make from now on.”