Something weird happens when you look at yourself in the mirror and realize you are a 30-something.
First, the fact that I’m having thoughts about age, life, death, legacy and retirement are crazy to me. Last I remember I was visiting college campuses trying to figure out where I wanted to have my young mind molded. Secondly, you really start to feel your life decisions weigh on you. No longer can you make excuses for a crazy night out – you have responsibilities. Someone is depending on you. Thirdly, you start to realize that you aren’t the young one in the group anymore. Friends are coming to you for serious life advice, not just boy or girl drama.
All of this brings me to one morning this summer. I was packing for my first adult vacation in years: a cruise! Technically this was the first vacation I was actually able to pay for by myself. The radio station wasn’t sending me to some exotic location for a concert, this wasn’t a morning radio show convention. This was my summer vacation with my boyfriend and college best friends.
The day before we were to board the ship I had to buy a new suitcase. I had these tired, old, red suitcases that I had been lugging around since college. It was time for something new and snazzy. As I was placing my swimming trunks and tank tops into the new suitcase, I couldn’t help but stare at my old, ratty red suitcases. They had seen so much life. So many tears, so many laughs, so many cities! Now it was time to say goodbye.
During high school I lived with my grandmother in a one bedroom apartment. She lived in a retirement apartment complex. Now looking back at that time, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to live there. Thankfully ole’ Betty, who used to smoke on the stoop every morning and afternoon, never ratted us out. At the time I was 15, with nowhere else to go. My Mom was dealing with putting her life back together after being with an abusive boyfriend. She was figuring out life, one day at time. While she was doing that, I lived with grandma. Since we lived in a one bedroom apartment, my clothes were stored in two green Rubbermaid bins. I hated those bins. I remember all I wanted in life was a dresser or a closet to place or hang my clothes. Every morning I had to rifle through those damn green bins for my clothes.
By the time I was ready to go off to college, I had no clue how I was going to get my clothes from Atlanta to South Georgia on this new adventure of life. Would I have to pack up the green Rubbermaid containers and take them with me on this new adventure? I didn’t have to. My mother and grandmother gifted me three red suitcases. I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited for a gift. These were MY suitcases! You wouldn’t tell me anything as I marched those bad boys through the dorm rooms of South Georgia College.
Over the next 13 years, the suitcases have seen me through the first stops of South Georgia College then Georgia Southern University. Then making my way into the adult world of living in Savannah for my first radio job. They effortlessly helped me make the leap to Florida for my first morning show job in Panama City. They were proud to help me go play in the big leagues of radio in Tampa Bay. When that didn’t work, they told me to hold my head up, and keep trucking. We went back to Panama City to hone my craft for my own morning show. Then when the call came for a second swing in Tampa Bay, they patted me on the back and said I could do it.
These red suitcases have seen many job interviews in Charlotte, New York, Tampa, Boston, and Sacramento. They have been to countless morning radio conventions across the country. They have been there through countless apartments and homes over the years. These red suitcases have seen the highs and lows and this summer, it was time to retire these life companions of my late teens and 20s.
When these red suitcases and I were introduced, I was 17 and could not wait to start this journey called life. Now I’m 31 and just getting warmed up. Thank you red suitcases for a wild ride.
I thought I was going to get rid of the old red suitcases to make room for the new, sleek suitcase I was taking on the cruise ship. As I thought about all these suitcases had seen, I decided to pass them along. They seemed to have worked a little magic for me, so maybe they could help a new friend starting out on their journey.