May 26 05:22 AM

Talk about baggage...

February 24, 2010
My suitcase has served me well. I've pulled it over cobbled streets in Europe, through airport terminals in D.C. and Detroit and down countless college apartment steps. Considering its age and service, I shouldn't have been surprised when the wheels fell off last week...and I wasn't.

As I told the story to family over the weekend, I was struck at its potential for poetic analogy or a paperback plot.

Her aspirations for the big screen started to crumble about the same time the wheels fell off her carry-on and Ruthie was forced to drag her bags down the train platform, sweating in a very un-Audrey Hepburn kind of way.

I laughed the scenario off thinking maybe I should take it as a sign my traveling days should be over.

I got that first real suitcase as a high school graduation gift from Jeff and Leslie, my travel-loving brother and sister-in-law. It just so happened I was visiting them in Oklahoma when the rollers gave out. Leslie and I laughed as we lifted the bag into her car's trunk and saw only the metal 'rims' remained.

Both my bag and I are a little rusty at this, I thought afterwards. It took me days to pack for this four-day trip and my carry-on bag and Sudoku book looked pretty shabby next to my rowmate's iPod, Kindle, iPhone and laptop. I'm a homebody whose ventures should be contained to surveying bean fields from some dirt road in a Ford.

Anyways, back in Tulsa, on top of all the very nice things my hosts did for me, they gifted me with a new suitcase—purple, with hefty-looking wheels. It was rather thrilling to throw my stuff from the raggedy bag to this new one. I kept thinking, I can't shove this in the back of my closet! It deserves daylight and at the least, a road trip.

I came home feeling euphoric. Who wouldn't after basking in slightly warmer weather, southern hospitality and time spent with extremely smart and funny siblings and nieces and nephews?

The glow was short-lived. That suitcase, filled with dirty clothes, a pair of shoes and lots of dreams, didn't arrive with me.

For a minute (okay, more like a day) I wondered if this was fate's way of saying 'stick with what you know' for the umpteenth time.

Appropriately, the luggage delivery guy from Flint couldn't find our house, declaring he was "out in the middle of nowhere" when he called for directions.

I practically hugged the thing before unpacking it. I don't think I'm the materialistic type but I found a lot of value in that new suitcase.

I brought it upstairs but haven't had the heart to stick it in storage yet.

Email Maria at

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.
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