Baggage Claim



Last week, I found my luggage tag from a long-ago trip.


Rifling through my collection of bags, I reached a green duffel at the bottom of the stack.


Oh yes, I thought. I forgot about this one.


The airline sticker was still attached and the handwritten luggage tag hung from the handle. One of the paper labels they provide when you realize you’ve left the proper one at home.


After the trip, I hadn’t bothered to clip that little, disposable tag free.


And when I looked at it more closely, the scribbles were nearly unrecognizable.


I’d crossed out and rewritten three letters of my own name. It seemed I’d almost forgotten my address and the ink of my phone number distinctly lacked my usual care. As if someone else had filled it out instead, and maybe there’s truth to that. Maybe that person was someone else entirely.


I laughed. Remembered standing at the check-in counter, hands shaking, mind racing, thoughts muddled with everything that could go wrong.


But nothing did. And then everything.


On Friday, for a single moment, I thought about saving that tag, thought about tucking it into the box I keep old photos and swim team ribbons and concert tickets. But in the next breath–as if my hands knew better this time–I tossed it in the trash, packed for yet another trip, and left.

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