Eight and a half years ago, one December day in Cape Town, I welcomed you into my life. Since then, you and I have had many wonderful adventures together. We have been on many work trips away, but lots of fun times too. We have travelled all over the country, and across the world. Always you have been happy and eager to see what was waiting round the next corner, and excited for the next adventure. You have been my constant, reliable, and cheerful companion, rattling along next to me with reassuring solidity and the promise of adventure.
There was the time we got snowed into Belfast and I had to leave you there over Christmas because I wasn’t confident I could get you home in the snow. I felt so guilty leaving you, but your happy, smiling face was waiting for me in January and I was so pleased to see you.
We have had so many fantastic nights away with friends. I would pack you with excitement, and you’d carry pretty dresses, shoes and make up with ease. For a while, when my life was different, we only did fun stuff together, but recently there have been more work trips.
You have been practically perfect in every way. Your Mary Poppins-like interior holds a huge amount. Your inner pockets are just so. The secret space in your lid has held many emergency books and sets of work papers. You nestle into overhead lockers like a pea in a pod, with your smiling face waiting to greet me the moment I open the door. I can push or pull you with equal ease. You helped me smuggle knitting projects on flights before the security rules were relaxed and it was allowed again.
But you are showing your age, every scuff on your exterior a mark of the time we have spent together. I’ve had to reluctantly make the decision to retire you.
A few weeks ago, the mechanism for your telescoping handle jammed. It had been sticking increasingly frequently, but every time previously a determined jiggle would free it up. Not this time. I had to carry you back from Leicester, cradled in my arms like a child. No amount of WD40 has been able to fix you.
Last week I went shopping for a new suitcase. It felt like I was being unfaithful to you, walking around the shop looking at all the other suitcases and assessing what they had to offer. Trying to imagine spending time with them in the way that I have done with you. None of them were right, either. Too flimsy, too ugly, and the wrong arrangement of pockets inside. I came to the crushing realisation that I will never be able to replace you. You are unique.
This week I go away on business, and I will take my new suitcase with me. But every time I look at it I will feed sad. Because it’s not you.