I think you’re going to laugh when I tell you what I did.
Everything was going along just fine on my travels to gate A29. I’d even found a parking spot in a lot they said was filled. (I claimed this as a blessing from heaven.)
I felt tender about traveling. I don’t usually get it right. I get something wrong; I miss the exit, I pass the gate, my bag is too heavy, blah, blah, blah. I typically get something wrong.
As I found myself thinking of all that could go awry, I captured those meanderings and thought instead of the confident women I know who travel independently all the time.
I decided to pick one and pretend to be like her. Confidence is an act, sometimes.
I had plenty of time before my flight would board. And very suddenly, with a wave of unexpected disdain, I hated the bag I had brought with me.
Robb’s old computer bag.
It’s battered from dozens of his business trips, streaked with marks, and creased with dust. Plus, I had insisted on carrying only this bag on my trip, so I had stuffed it, packed it full, with enough belongings for five days away from home. Ridiculous. It actually wouldn’t even hold my computer anymore.
So I got this brilliant plan. I will buy a new bag.
I had twenty minutes before it was time to board. I found this boutique with frothy scarves, charm bracelets, leopard print purses, chunky necklaces, and – aha! – carry-on bags.
I opted for the black patent leather bag instead of the three piece option that came with a small purse and a makeup bag. (Only because I was already carrying my ‘personal item that can be stowed beneath the seat in front of me,’ and also because I have plenty of bags and purses and that’s not what this purchase was about.)
“Would you mind if I make the switch right here?” I asked the ladies behind the counter. They offered me the dressing room if I’d like some privacy, but that seemed like a lot of work. Instead, I opted to unpack the old bag, stock my new one, right there on the floor.
(Those girlfriends of mine, mentioned above, the ones who are experts at traveling independently and with confidence? They are also firm believers in the philosophies of efficiency and flying under the radar. I was not at all acting like them, here with my belongings strewn about. I grabbed my clothes by the handful, and the hooks of my extra, just-in-case bra got caught on the mesh pocket of the old bag while I was trying to make the transition. That display was a little awkward, that right there.)
I made my switch, complete with every stitch of clothing I had packed, and I even moved my laptop and three (of the seven) books into the carry-on, still with room to spare.
I zipped up my new bag and set her up on her four wheels. Yep. This will do quite nicely.
“Could you dispose of this bag for me, please?”
I handed over the memory of Robb’s bag, willing myself not to think about the time I had found his highlighter in the pocket, the time when I couldn’t find my Xanax while newlyweds made out in the seat next to me, the many times he kissed me hello upon his return from whatever business trip, one hand under my chin and the other hand on this very bag that he had not yet set down.
I didn’t think about those things.
I strolled out of the store, the picture of streamlined class. This is a new bag. And it’s mine. Certainly an author should have a new bag, don’t you think? Bring on the speaking engagements, conferences, airline miles, and new memories. I’m ready now: with my bag.
I did all of this with time to spare. I didn’t even miss my flight. Turns out, I got everything right this time.
And since I have a new bag, maybe I can pick up a few new books at the conference.