If people divided up their life stories into chapters, all they would need is a suitcase. Skip the narrative and just dig through the contents. Forget the setting and the characters and the scenes. Look at the baggage tags, the corny tourist t-shirts, the souvenirs and the different kinds of sand, dirt and dust that collects in the edges of the suitcase.
You can gather a lot about a person’s life and what they’re about based on the things they jammed in the suitcase to bring back to loved ones and the places they’ve been. But that’s mostly with vacations, semesters abroad or internships in a different city.
Suitcases that plan on making a return home are very different than the ones that don’t. These suitcases are the real chapters in people’s lives. These suitcases are less about where their owner has been and more about where they’re going. Because it’s not what’s in the suitcase, but what gets left behind.
If you’re comfortable and content with where you are, your life will mostly consist of the vacationer’s suitcase. Early in life it could be poker chips from Vegas that ticks around the bottom of the bag. Someday that could turn into a stray pacifier or baby bottle. Either way, they’re coming back home. If you aren’t content with where you are or have a dream to chase, you’re the other suitcase. There isn’t any room for a pacifier or a touristy t-shirt in one of those because they aren’t going home and won’t be for a long time. But, every nomad has to settle before they pick up and leave, and that’s the struggle of the latter luggage’s trajectory: learning how to live in a place you plan on leaving.
I have a deep, deep fear of getting attached to things I know I will be forced to physically leave behind. I have goals I want to achieve and leaving things behind will be a part of my life until I reach those goals. When I anticipate a departure, I’ll detach no matter how painful it is. Still, I and other people like me need to find a way to be human beings in between suitcases; between chapters. There’s life that happens between packing and unpacking while thinking about the next destination.
When you plan on leaving a place, it’s important to bring with you the things you love about it and take them with you.
I can’t bring my family with me, but I can bring with me their hospitality. There is a stretch of lawn at our house that has been dirt for the past four years, but it hasn’t been neglected. Our neighbors and their children walk the same path through the yard to get to the front door and my family walks on the same tract to their front door. I can only hope to bring that same feeling of hospitality to wherever I go.
I can’t bring my friends with me, but I can bring with me a place to get closer with new ones. In Lincoln and San Antonio I had a regular bar. The Bar and Bombay Bicycle club are where I almost exclusively spent all my parents money the last year and a half. There wouldn’t be anything special about those places if it weren’t for the same people who were there every single night. Cheap beer will always taste like cheap beer, but that doesn’t matter when you can spend entire afternoons and nights trying to run a keg dry with good people. There won’t be room for a box of pizza or a pitcher of Shiner or all my friends with me in a suitcase, but I can bring with me the idea of how important a good bar can be to friendships.
I can’t bring all my stuff with me, but that’s a good thing. There are things that we need to leave behind. Little things that we hold our identities in are sometimes better off not going in a suitcase, and that’s exciting. This is the opportunity the dynamic dreamer suitcases have that the others don’t have: you can leave it all behind whenever you want. Whether you are leaving behind the crappy person you were in that place or the nice person you want to put away for a while, you can leave them and the physical objects you’re tied to whenever you want.
In between suitcases, it’s important to bring with you the things you loved about where you once were, but the chance to start over on a whim can’t be found next to a tacky t-shirt, a baby bottle, a worn out patch of grass, pitchers of beer in your suitcase or even a person. It can only be found in the idea that you’re living in a place you plan on leaving.