How can one fit 32 years of her life in one luggage?
My carry on had personal documents that validate my identity, toiletries and extra clothes – just in case the airline sends my luggage to Zimbabwe instead of Zurich (I surely needed to gargle my mouth and dab cologne on before I met by my boyfriend whom I have not seen for almost eight months), books – on the account that the person sitting next to me on the plane is not someone I can imagine talking with for the next sixteen hours, and other personal effects which I don’t remember anymore but certainly added to the weight.
My clothes were precisely picked and were not necessarily weather appropriate because how can I, really… Each of the six shirts I took were carefully rolled with enough spaces in between to fill them with my niece’s hearty laughter, the smell of my sister’s cooking, and cigarette smoke coming from my brother’s room. Inside the pockets of three pants were my aunt’s fervent our fathers, hail marys, and glory be’s. I slipped conversations with friends inside each of the three pairs of shoes I decided to take. It was the most difficult, but I managed to tuck in my mother’s sweat and my dead father’s dreams along the linings of the jackets I was hoping to prevent me from freezing. They do the job of keeping me warm on most days, depending on the temperature. Finally, I filled the void inside several bags with 32 years’ worth of life, studies, work, and travel. Things which I hope I can accessorize myself with as I try to find what’s in this new place where I can pour my passions in.
As expected, there were a lot of things I did not bring, hoping to claim some space and in an attempt to justify a regular visit back home. I left Manila with a room that seemed unabandoned. My dresser still has my half-empty lotion and perfume bottles. My succulents are still sitting beside my pen holder and about five books I meant to read before leaving, but didn’t. At the far end of the room, more unread books. I can imagine my six-year old niece walking in and expecting to find me on the bed and watching TV, but she won’t. But I hope my scent lingers on my favorite side of the couch and on the rim of my coffee mug, and our dogs can still recognize the smell of my fading memory after several years.
And then, there were some things I needed to get rid of. Inside the closet are clothes that are entirely unwearable in Switzerland. Some, too thin. Some, too short. Others, too tattered and used. I decided to throw them, together with some burnt ties. Memories of sly faces, half-truths, and whole lies. I have learned to let go of people and things that no longer help me be a better person and instead, rot me from the inside.
So, how can one fit 32 years of her life in one luggage? You can’t. You don’t. I decisively picked out things I want to carry around inside my pocket, juggling them like a set of keys that open doors I don’t mind going in and out of for the rest of my life; things I need to leave in my old home, like an old family photograph that stands on a quiet corner table that will long bind me to my roots; and things that I need to be rid of, burdens that I no longer need to carry. As I walked out of my old life to fly into the new, my luggage was just the right amount of full… And, I think, I have everything I need.