The Life And Timing Of My Big Red Suitcase

Regular readers will know that I spent 4 or 5 years of my life pretty much living out of a suitcase away from home.  It could have been one of two – my small weekend bag or my massive red suitcase.

I figured if I was buying one, I buy the biggest I can buy.  “Go hard or go home”, so to speak.  I was often the subject of ridicule for my inappropriately sized travel baggage.  Red is also relatively easy to spot on luggage carousels without the need to attach all sorts of brightly coloured tags to it.

I spent about 8 months working a semi-regular rota of trans-Atlantic travel and have had the odd trip back over to the US since. After that I was in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Italy or other parts of the UK than home probably 9 weeks out of every 10.  My clothes lived in one of two places – the washing machine or my suitcase.

Never let anyone tell you that regular work travel is glamorous, it really isn’t.  There are times you get to see things and you obviously get to experience other cultures, but it is also massively more restrictive than many imagine it to be.

Both the bags are now looking a bit battered.  The weekend bag is held together with gaffer tape while the big red suitcase has had a dented frame for the last few years after one obviously traumatic flight.  It’s been through a lot but it still closes and its wheels still work.

The great thing about this bag was that if it was full, seemingly whatever I put in it, it was always under the weight limit for every trip I did.  It could contain a week’s worth of snowboard holiday gear including my helmet, clothes for the mountains and clothes for the night time including footwear, and it would be underweight.  It could contain two week’s of work clothes and still have room and free weight for all the stuff my friends asked me to bring home.

It was regularly opened by the TSA on my outbound flights back to the UK.  There was a shop in Pittsburgh called FudgieWudgie that sold amazing fudge.  I used to bring it home for friends, but it was sold in blocks put in boxes and wrapped in string.  In an airport x-ray machine it probably looked like plastic explosive amongst my dirty underwear.

My big red suitcase has been having a bit of a staycation in recent years – just a few holidays.  All the travel I’d done meant that being home was nice, and I had a massive smile on my face the last time I flew home from the US because of the circumstances around my then precarious employment status.  (In the same way I once thought it wasn’t possible to physically have my breath taken away or genuinely feel relief, I don’t think I’d ever smiled so much just from being so happy at a situation rather than it being funny).

It’s only in the last 6 months or so I’ve actually began to miss going on adventures with it.  I missed my snowboarding holiday this year and there are places I’d like to explore.  I don’t have wanderlust in that I don’t have the need to travel or inability to settle, but there are certainly places I’d like to go and see now that I can travel for pleasure rather than because I have to.

And, who knows? Someday I might be using my big red suitcase to travel back here when I call somewhere else home.  Some people think I will never leave where I live now, and I am happy here.  It’s convenient and I’ve wanted to live in this building since I was 6 years old.  It is home, but I’m pragmatic enough to know that things change and I doubt I’ll be spending my life there.

I guess when we think about packing a suitcase and going somewhere, we only think about the place.  With me, it’s been far more about the time.

I’m eighth in line on a US Air
Right now you’re paying the parking fare
I can still see your hand print on the terminal glass

I tried to back out, I tried to stay home
Tried to avoid picking up the phone
Knowing that this call could be your last

And as I take off, my heart won’t stop
The sky looks like an Astro Pop
Amber, red and blue
I’m sure gonna miss you

I’m next in line as a lady stares
At a messed up fucker with messed up hair
She probably felt like this sometime – alone
Or maybe she lived in a perfect life
Been a perfect mother and an average wife
Maybe she just wonders what went wrong

And as I take off, my heart won’t stop
The sky looks like an astro pop
Amber, red and blue
I’m sure gonna miss you

Is this all there really is?
Life after you
Is it all there really is?
What else can I do?
am I gonna taste your kiss
No matter who I’m with
It’s gonna be you

And as I take off, my heart won’t stop
The sky looks like an astro pop
Amber, red and blue
I’m sure gonna miss you

I’m sure gonna miss you
Is this all there really is?

Last Flight Out by Butch Walker

Comments 2

  1. taru mathur

    Wonderful! I too have a read suitcase & love it for all the reasons you do.

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