A Pink SuitcaseDecember 1, 2015
My suitcase is small enough to fit in an overhead bin, light enough to lug—with difficulty—up and down the steep steps of the Paris Metro, light enough to carry—again with difficulty—up the even steeper steps of a bridge that crosses the tracks at the gare in Valence d’Agen, the station closest to Auvillar, a village I visit in southwest France.
My suitcase is dark blue, not vibrant pink like the one on the cover of A Pink Suitcase, 22 Tales of Women’s Travel, but like the women who wrote these tales—and I am one of them—I am drawn to chance encounters and to the unfamiliar. However, before writer and editor, Janna Graber, accepted “The Memory Palate” for inclusion in her anthology, I hadn’t thought of myself as an adventurer. I’d reserved that title for those who hiked solo from Georgia to Maine along the grueling Appalachian Trail or for those who explored exotic places. Their stories are here, but so, too, are stories of a mother pushing her thirteen year old daughter in a wheel chair, struggling with stairs, struggling with shoes, hers and her daughters. This mother is determined to show her daughter Paris, and she does. In another tale, a woman who has adopted a Chinese baby returns ten years later with her daughter, now ten, both searching for a man they know only in a photograph, the only link to this child’s past.
As I read the stories of these women, my thoughts of travel broadened. Adventurers, it seemed, were those who opened themselves to new experiences. Curiousity keeps the mind nimble. I loved new tastes and new neighborhoods, and late in life, after my husband stopped traveling, I learned to travel alone. I reveled in my new freedom, choosing a restaurant randomly, and then savoring my food at a table for one. In Auvillar, I rode a borrowed bicycle to Valence d’Agen, rented a car and drove solo through the French countryside, reading maps and circling roundabouts two or three times to find an arrow pointing to my destination. Always, after my travels I return home to my husband and my dogs, and when I do, I am changed. I like to think I’m a little wiser, a little more in tune with myself and with others.
I am honored to have my travel tale among those Jenna Graber has chosen for inclusion in A Pink Suitcase. Perhaps, when my blue bag wears out, I will choose pink.
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