My Old Suitcase

It stood there, mocking me, for over a year. This suitcase became a symbol of my clutter. My sloth. My rut. I bought the suitcase in mid-2004 just prior to my first trip to Japan. I went with my mother to K-Mart to look for luggage and we bought it, not because it was good, but because it was cheap. My mother convinced me that I didn’t need, or better yet, didn’t want more expensive luggage because it would just get beat up. It would just get stolen if it were nicer. I said, “OK.” and went along with her on the idea. I used the luggage five times. On my first trip back to the US during my second stint in Japan, I started using my ex-girlfriend’s luggage. It was bigger and sturdier. When I broke up with her, I was forced to buy some new luggage. I bought nicer luggage. My mother couldn’t figure out why I’d do such a thing. But then I told her I got it for half-off. “Oh, then that’s OK.”

But then I didn’t need the old suitcase. I don’t remember how I managed this, but the old suitcase wound up back in my Japanese apartment instead of being left behind in America. I live in a small place, so I don’t have a lot of room. The place in my closet that my old suitcase occupied was now being occupied by the new suitcase. The old suitcase was homeless. But it was still usable, so I couldn’t bear throwing it away. So I let it sit in my apartment. Not tucked away in a closet or even a corner, but out in the open, dormant in a slanted position somewhere between my kitchen counter and a bookshelf. It served no purpose. It was unmoved and unused for 14 months (except for as a rack to dry bath towels on).

Every day, I’d look over at it, and feel helpless. I knew I didn’t want it. I knew I didn’t need it. I knew I’d never use it again. But it wasn’t unusable. So I kept it, and allowed it to hold me hostage for over a year. This suitcase became a symbol of my inability to remove unnecessary things from my life and to get out of the rut I’d been living in since last year. I ordered a new vacuum on Friday night, and something about this new vacuum, a new symbol of hope got me motivated to get rid of a lot of old stuff. I threw out old clothes I’d never wear again, memories of ex-girlfriends, and finally, my old suitcase. My apartment feels less cluttered, more open, and less stifling. For the first time in a long time, I feel renewed. All because I got rid of my old suitcase.

Published on July 18, 2014


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