It was approaching sunset, and the last reddish-orange sunlight of the end of a hot summer day was filtering into my room. It glided across the old hardwoods, leaving a golden trail across the floor and lingering where it nudged up against the old suitcase in the middle of the room. Kyle and I were stretched out on my bed listening to music and doing nothing in particular. That’s when I looked over and noticed him focused on that old Royal Traveler suitcase, the centerpiece of the room. Daydreaming? Concentrating?
“You can’t have my suitcase,” I joked, giving him a playful smack on the head to bring him back from wherever his mind had drifted. It was a vintage medium-sized travel case- probably circa the late 60’s. It was beautiful: pale aqua blue with gleaming silver hardware, a retro fairytale of a suitcase. The thrill I felt when I found it! I had just moved into the co-op the week before, and was feeling lost in that huge bedroom that seemed so empty and lonely to me at the time. I rescued the Royal Traveler from the trash, astonished that it was unscathed. There wasn’t a scratch on it, and despite sitting outside under the back porch for ages, it was completely free of dirt or rust.
Kyle blinks. Smiles. Shakes his head “no” and continues to stare at the suitcase.
“I was just thinking about it. Thinking, that is totally Kitt- who else would put a suitcase in the middle of their bedroom and use it as a centerpiece. Is it just aesthetic, to show it off because you like the look of it? Or is it symbolic- like, 'I'm ready to pick up and go any time I want?' ”
Grinning, I admired the suitcase. I did love the look of it, especially as it sat angled in the middle of the room, supporting a glass vase that held a single sunflower. I remember that I used to go out every week to buy a new sunflower for it at the farmer’s market on Saturday mornings. By this point, the live sunflower has since been replaced by an artificial one.
“Oh God, no! No not at all.” I explained. “Not like that anyway- not to be able to just pick up and go. I guess I keep it there to remind me that I LOVE it here. It’s more like a symbol of being anchored to this place- that I’m so completely happy where I am, the suitcase has been reduced to a stationery piece of furniture. I have no need for a travel case, so now it’s a table.” I sat up and surveyed the room- it was getting dark now, I’d need to get up and click on the light soon.
“Plus I do really love the look of it. Besides... it ties the room together nicely, don’t you think?”
I give him a playful shove and reach over to switch on the table lamp on the nightstand….
I did love that old suitcase. I had so little money then and had marveled at the fact that it was in perfect condition and would have been prohibitively expensive (for me) if I had found it in a resale shop. I had so few possessions at that time; I was overjoyed with such a lucky find. It filled a void in that enormous room that was slowly starting to feel like mine. It was marvelous in the middle of that bedroom, like an old photo or a scene in an old Hepburn movie. With the vase and the sunflower perched to the left of its handle. Charming- that’s what it was. I regret that I never took a photo of it. It was one of those rare, fortuitously perfect objects that just happen into your life sometimes- something that was meaningless, that starts out incidental and becomes integral. And now, thinking back as hard as I can, I’m unable to remember what became of my old Royal Traveler. (How is that even possible?!) I have no memory of when I eventually removed it from my room or why, or whatever became of it. I guess at some point it just became incidental again, and was removed to make way for something else. There’s a fair chance that it’s still lurking somewhere in the co-op. Is it packed away somewhere in that crumbling, lonely old basement? A forgotten relic of my past, keeping company with all the random abandoned things from so many others who had lived there once and left parts themselves behind? I like to think that it’s been rediscovered by someone else, who also couldn’t believe their luck at such a find. And that it is being cherished even now by its new owner as much as it was when it belonged to me.
Goodnight lovely blue Royal Traveler, wherever you are.