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Suburban Island

Monday, Jan. 20, 2003, 4:26 p.m.

Question: Why do I open my carefully packed suitcase to immediately realize most of what I packed I could do without?

What I Learned: The Starbucks is always on the other side of the airport.

I just got back from a few days of travel. I thought I packed light but it seems that it is never light enough. Somehow I am dragging a suitcase that is much heavier than I recall it being at the time of packing. As I pull it along behind me feeling it sway back and forth like a happy drunk, its wheels clacking noisily across the tiled floors in a most obnoxious manner – I begin to wonder how I’ve gotten myself into this situation again. How is it I set out in such earnestness to pack lightly and wind up every time tugging a heavy albatross of a bag behind me down escalators and up stairways and along never-ending corridors?

I wonder if perhaps I have dropped something into the bag that I might have forgotten about. This is what I figure it could be:

  • All the change in the house so that if I get bored on the plane, I can roll them up and have some extra spending loot.
  • Rocks from the garden to give as gifts.
  • A 24 pack of Diet Coke – just in case.
  • A bound set of the complete works of Shakespeare because I may have some time to read.
  • My entire collection of photo albums since everyone likes to look at pictures.

In this particular case, I am wearing a winter coat that is so heavy that I can feel my forehead start to sweat as I walk along. At security, I see how packing wisely is a necessity to retaining personal sanity and a modicum of dignity. Unfortunately, I have not considered the exponential quality personal possessions take on at the security stop. Change or anything metal – in a bowl. Coat – fold it up and put it on the belt. Shoes – take ‘em off and put them in a bin or you’ll definitely be sitting on the other side of security getting the once over. Computer – take it out of the case and put it in the bin. Put the case on the belt separately. Oh yeah, and how about that bag that is really starting to feel extra heavy as you heave it up on the belt - don’t forget that. And that purse – put it in a separate bin - yes, another bin please - but you had better hold on to that ticket and ID. Now that it is bit of a trick as my arms are overflowing with bins and such but I have teeth don't I?

I feel a bit like an flamenco dancer/bellboy at this point but the long line in back of me tolerates no hesitation. I line up the bins that were nested under my arms on the belt and the bag and the coat and holding only an ID and ticket and feeling light as as a feather, I proceed through the security sceening. I am hardly done though.

Putting yourself back together again with the same components you had in the beginning – coat, bags, change, jewelry, bags, electronic equipment - is the other half of the trick. Hey, I could reinvent myself by accident just gathering myself up again.

Better safe than sorry as they say and the makeover – that’s free of charge.

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