Some parents buy the beloved Dr. Seuss book “Oh the Places you will Go” for their child when they graduate high school. My parents didn’t buy the book but they bought me something better…. they bought me a suitcase. I was leaving to go to Cosmetology School that summer so I think at the time I looked at it more as a practical provision for what I was currently in need of. Little did I know that suitcase would travel with me all over the world… through 18 months of Cosmetology School in Indianapolis… through a summer of camp where each week would be a different location….it would get lost in Paris while I was in Romania for 6 days with only the clothes on my back… it would take me home to Alaska many many times for Christmas breaks…. It would go with me on my honeymoon to NYC… and it would be packed with baby and mommy things as we waited for the day we would rush to the hospital to have a baby… it traveled the quick non-stop flight from DFW to RDU that first year of living here as Zoe accompanied me for many weddings back in Raleigh…It’s more like a dear trusted traveling companion to me than just a suitcase.
My parents couldn’t have given me a better gift that year. I always tell people when they ask about our high school years and being home-schooled through them growing up, that probably the best thing my parents did for us is to let us pursue our hearts desire. Now, this wasn’t done by pressure or pushing us… this was done by just giving us the room to spread our wings. I remember having outgrown our church pianist as a piano teacher… I needed someone who could teach me classical and would challenge me with hard things. There was a lady who was known for being the best in town. I wanted her. My parents told me they would pay for lessons if I could get her to take me on as a student. I called. She was booked… a month later I called again. She was still not taking new students. I waited two months and called again. She must have sensed my strong desire and urgency to have her as a teacher because she agreed to take me on. I was so happy. You would think most parents would be on to their kids to practice practice practice… not mine. Honestly, I don’t think they had time to constantly remind their child to do something they were supposed to be doing. In our family.. you just had to do your part in order for the whole family to run properly. So, it usually looked like me begging to walk to church to practice or getting a lift from Dad when he came home for lunch. I remember those lessons like it was yesterday. Do I play well today? not near like I should if I had stayed with it. But I have a love and appreciation for music and piano that was well worth the cost of those lessons.
I could tell stories that would be similar about learning experiences my parents time and time again gave me the freedom to have and experience. I want that for my kids. Now, I probably will push them a little more… maybe… but I always want to keep in mind that I want them to do what they love and have an interest in because if that’s the case they will do it well. (not saying that they won’t have to do hard things that aren’t fun.. but just that when it comes to big things….life direction things…. it’s got to be something they are passionate about)
I loved to travel… I loved to see new places… I loved meeting new people. I think my parents sensed that about me and knew that I was ready for whatever lie ahead outside that little town of Kenai, Alaska….outside of our home on Birch street. So… they bought me a valuable tool… they bought me a suitcase.
It’s been slowly getting banged up and ripped here and there. I knew the end was coming for this trusty friend of mine. I was telling mom about how much I have used that thing and how it’s about to need to retire. She told me, it’s a Land’s End Suitcase. It has a lifetime warranty on it! Best news ever!!! So, I will be sending this guy to mingle with other retired suitcases…. oh the stories they can tell each other. And I will be getting a brand new one. Which is a little sad for me because I love my old one… but it’s exciting at the same time.
Where will this one take me? What will it help me bring to orphanages in Africa? Will it go with Zoe to camp for the first time? Will it ever be filled with receiving blankets again and waiting a hospital run? Will it board a cruise ship or embark to a tropical destination? Whatever the case…. I can’t wait to see all the places it will go. (it just better not go to Paris without me again!)