Letting Go of Old Baggage

Despite its problems (and there are many), whenever I travel, I attempt to use our local airport.

It’s usually more expensive than driving to San Francisco and flying from there. However, I prefer to support our local economy, and upon totaling the added time and expenses of driving six hours, a higher price for long-term parking, as well as the possibility of a night in a hotel, it usually turns out to be equivalent. Yet, when the flight is $840 from here and $325 from SFO, do the math.

After returning to SFO from Houston (delayed of course), we took the bus to long-term parking. I strapped my suitcases together using the “clickable” belt attached to one, fastening my computer case on the handle of the case nearest me. We walked to the car, my short “suitcase train” in tow. At the vehicle, I unclicked the luggage, put my computer in the trunk and, by the time I turned around, one bag had vanished. Imagine going to the grocery store and putting a sack in your car, turning to get a second one — and there’s nothing there. It was that rapid.

Due to the speed of the incident, my initial thought was that I left a suitcase on the shuttle, or it fell off somewhere between the bus stop and the car. We returned to the bus but it was not there. We contacted security; nothing was reported. I felt like I had lost my mind and began wondering if I had imagined two suitcases. Should my traveling partner (and the bus driver) not confirm that they saw me with two cases; I would have doubted my sanity.

It gradually became apparent that someone walked by, snatched it and continued on his merry way.

After all, who would look askew at someone carting a suitcase in an airport parking lot? As I later found out, there are indeed low-lifes roaming airport parking lots and baggage carousels who escape regularly with travelers’ possessions, selling what they “score.” With regards to me, they got several power adapters, a “Breaking Bad” DVD set, books, toiletries, my favorite jacket, and a mixture of dirty clothes (I just wish they were dirtier) — as well as a $150 suitcase. Nothing was irreplaceable, but there is still that dirty feeling of being defiled.

I’m now in the process of replacing what was taken.

And in that progression I’m reminded yet again that, despite the attachment I developed to certain items, I am getting along fine without them. At first, I tried to match exactly what I had with what I am now getting. But, in many cases, that’s impossible — and almost always unnecessary. Despite the fact that it’s a rough way to be reminded of life’s transience, there’s also a lesson to be had: Nothing stays forever. What was is no more, and once gone, cannot be replicated. Oft times, we desperately clutch what used to be, forgetting that holding that tightly to the past robs us from embracing who we have become.

Okay, I’ll admit it; maybe finding a “lesson” from a minor brush with a low-level theft is a rationalization to avoid feeling violated. I don’t know; does it really matter? You learn where you can.

But the irony of learning how to let go of old baggage simply cannot be ignored.

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