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The Weight of a New Suitcase

Matt Villano

The contents of my three-year-old’s purple suitcase are nothing special: Some undies, a few tank tops, leggings and a stuffed Minnie Mouse. The suitcase itself, however, has changed her life.

This is her first suitcase, you see, and she used it Thursday afternoon for the first time ever—as part of the journey from our home in Northern California down to Disneyland (where we are now). She packed it. She zipped it. She carried it downstairs from her bedroom. She put it into the car.

Since then, she’s wheeled, pulled, pushed, carried and generally schlepped the thing through two airports, one car service pick-up and one theme park hotel.

To put it simply, this cheap-o roll-aboard has made my little girl into a more independent traveler.

L’s desire for individual luggage seemingly came out of nowhere. During our last trip, to Vancouver Island, Canada, she expressed minimal interest in helping us pack and unpack our bags, and paid attention to our Briggs & Riley collection only after I asked her to sit on an uncooperative piece so I could zip it shut.

Then, one day in our local Target, L spotted the purple bag and fantasized about taking it on our next trip. It was on sale, so it came home with us. A new era was born.

Naturally, I’ve got mixed feelings about this development. As a professional traveler, I’m delighted that L is comfortable on the road and wants to make the experience her own. Also, from a practical perspective, the idea of lugging five fewer pounds of crap through various airports is a wonderful thing.

But as a father—as L’s father—the suitcase affair is more sobering, a whack-you-in-the-face example that our baby is growing up. I know it’s inevitable. I just want it all to happen more slowly, you know?