Some missing something or the other required me to prowl through closets at Mama’s house. That’s when I found it. I pulled it out and smiled broadly, warmed by the memories it evoked.
You know the feeling I am sure. You find something that somewhere back in time meant so much but years have passed and you have forgotten its existence. Then you find it and it’s like running into an old friend who reminds you of happy times.
You would probably laugh if you saw it: a piece of hot pink Samsonite luggage. I’m laughing now because it’s part of a three-piece set that includes a beauty case (a thing of the past), a tote bag and a 22-inch Pullman. What that luggage — so 1970s — means to me can never be adequately summed up here. But let me try.
When I was just a kid, the age where I still tugged on Mama’s apron strings and sat in Daddy’s lap, my small arm reaching up and stretching partway around his neck, I loved suitcases. I was fascinated with what they represented: travel to somewhere different than where I was. My family never traveled because it couldn’t afford to stop working long enough to take time off. In my entire growing up, my parents and I took only one true vacation — for two weeks we traveled to West Virginia and Pennsylvania to visit some of Daddy’s family and stayed in Holiday Inns along the way and ate at the Howard Johnson hotel chain. It was a grand adventure.
I was 11 that summer and so thrilled that I planned my wardrobe for two months. Mama and I sewed and made me the most wonderful set of clothes for the trip, including a polyester blazer with a light gray background scattered with tiny navy-colored anchors because nautical was trendy that summer. It had gold buttons with anchors on them and I thought it was the smartest, chicest garment I had ever seen. I was so happy to be able to pack a suitcase and go on a trip.
When I was still that little apron-strings-tugging girl, I played often with a piece of brown, real leather Samsonite luggage that I was always packing with clothes and pretending to go to New York on book business. When I was in the seventh grade, I began to beg for pretty luggage. I had seen the hot pink, stylish Samsonite in the Belk department store and I was captivated. If only I had it, I told myself, then surely travel would find me and take me off to see the kind of things of which I read: airplanes, big cities, taxicabs and historic places.
It took two birthdays and one Christmas to get those three pieces of luggage and each one received made me happy beyond measure. I still have all three since I brought that one home from Mama’s. Two pieces have flight tags from the old Eastern Airlines, which went out of business 25 years ago.
When I got home, I set the Pullman at the foot of the stairs, intending to take it to the attic. But for days, I couldn’t. It made me smile every time I saw it and reminded me of how a girl’s childhood dreams came true. Every one of them.
Just recently, I bought a new set of luggage designed with bright, cheery colors all over it. It makes me happy, just like the little girl who sat in her daddy’s lap. Tink laughed as I wheeled it to the checkout counter.
“One thing’s for sure — you’ll be able to spot that at baggage claim,” he said.
I adore it. I baby it and scrub marks off of it when we return home because, just like the hot pink luggage, it reminds how childhood dreams came true.
Now, that’s a nice piece of baggage to carry around.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “There’s A Better Day A-Comin’.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com/ronda.