This I Believe

Mariam - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 13, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family
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I believe in suitcases. Not just the jumbo rolling ones, but also the old, shabby bags with zippers that don’t zip all the way and bodies that barely fit a week’s amount of clothes. Suitcases that are torn up from years of running in the streets with their frantic owners, abused by long winters in the storage, and smushed by bodies forcefully stuffing clothes in them. I believe in suitcases that remind me of where I come from and where I am going.

As the minutes count down to the new year, my overly excited family grabs a suitcase and dashes out the front door. We run up and down the street in nothing more than pajamas hoping for yet another year filled with travel. Our family carries out this annual ritual, suitcases dragging behind us, to remind us of our past voyages and need for more. After deciding enough embarrassment has been endured, we’re inside again, thankful that this crazy ritual is completed and wondering whether it actually worked.

By the time summer comes, the ongoing shift into conformity causes my family to no longer look like the jolly, eccentric family we were back in the holidays. It isn’t until the first two weeks of summer that the “vacation” feeling begins to settle in and talk of traveling fills the air. With the prospect of packing, my sisters and I ask the most important question on our minds: how many suitcases will we need? Because we’re only limited to ten suitcases, the entire family makes a ruthless dash towards the storage for the largest ones. Of course, I usually come out through the chaotic scene with none other than the jumbo size suitcase, dragging it towards my bed. After hours of chaos, it isn’t until all the luggage is sitting downstairs patiently awaiting our departure that the thought of traveling finally kicks in. The suitcases remind me that I will be able to spend two months seeing old faces, meeting new ones, and exploring with the family I took for granted the rest of the year.

As the minutes count down before we have to take our luggage outside again, my entire family grabs a suitcase, but this time, we head for the car. Wearing frantic faces, we scurry towards the airport, looking just as maniacal as before, only now, we actually have a destination. Once we enter, everything around me, including my family, begins to blend in with the other thousand people surrounding us. Yet, with the sight of our shabby, tattered suitcases, we are reminded how distinct we are from the mob. No matter whether we are in Iran, Costa Rica, or out in the streets during New Year, our suitcases sit there, not only evoking memories of countless travels, crazy rituals, and family unity, but also reminding us that in a mass of regulations and conformity, it’s the insignificant, yet quirky traditions that separates us from the crowd and reveals how unique our family really is.