17 January 2006

self portrait tuesday #18



I don't know when it happened. I started collecting vintage brown suitcases and couldn't stop. the old ones are lined with coarse satin and smell musty, like old cologne. they are square in shape, sometimes with stripes and I imagine them once being stuffed full with things like stockings and garter belts, blouses and tins of crusty rouge. I imagine they were most at home on trains and buses and in the roomy trunks of old cars, though the ones I have managed to snatch up in past years aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

they have been stacked on either side of the bed and lovingly filled with my history. one suitcase holds all the souvenirs we brought home from our trip to italy (including a little handful of dirt I swiped while we were standing in a field of sunflowers in tuscany). when I open this particular case, it smells like italy to me-- sweet and earthy. another suitcase holds all the love letters, notes, cards and mix tapes I have ever received from ward. I turn several shades of red just thinking about those steamy steamy words waiting to be discovered and wonder if we can bear the consequences of holding onto them. I cringe (and am sick to my stomach) when I think of ava and ezra reading those letters someday. though I could never ever actually bring myself to throw any of them out. another suitcase holds scrapbooks I made growing up, and another holds every journal and diary I ever kept. and the cutest little piece of luggage (that you'll ever lay eyes on) holds all my favorite random special things: a red paper dragon from a chinese new years celebration in new york, a birthday crown made of shells, a swatch of fabric from a costume of an african dance I was in, pearlized chopsticks and coins I brought back from japan, an antique black shawl ward bought me while we were on our honeymoon in new orleans, my college diploma, my photo ID card from the american dance festival, the earrings I wore on our wedding day, my grandpa's black leather watch, the metal tap off the shoe from the first musical I ever performed in... and the list goes on and on and on. anytime I am in the mood to look back (or in this case, examine personal history) I consult the suitcases.

and the suitcases said, "here. look at this one. tell us you don't see a huge chunk of your history right here." oh, yes they did. and the suitcases never lie, people. why would they? what would they have to gain? really, I don't think they're capable. this photo that I found stuck between the pages of an unfinished scrapbook was taken at a time that could be seen as the beginning of Adult Me. I had just moved away from home for the first time (here to atlanta), had just started school, had just begun to work with moving in the spirit. I had my own apartment and was paying my own bills. that day, ward and I were goofing, just driving around downtown atlanta when we discovered a stunning wall of graffiti infamously known as the civic yard. thinking back, I can't believe I got out of the car and posed barefoot for the camera there, all that broken glass and god knows what else. I'm sure I wasn't thinking or maybe I didn't care. years and years later (nine, to be exact) I would become a piece of that wall (look here). and I wonder what I would've thought, had I been able to see the history of my years laid plainly before me. my life in atlanta, my life with someone that would go on to become the father of my two children and a graffiti writer that would paint me as a new mother (only a few steps away from where I was spinning that hot sunny monday afternoon in september of 1992).

the civic yard is no more. for so long, it was a legal wall where graffiti writers were able to paint without fear of being arrested. and then crappy uncool people came in and destoyed the goodness and that's that. it's a boring story as old and predictable as every hollywood movie ever. I'm okay with it, though. landscapes change, people change. if I need a nostalgia fix, I go to the suitcases. the suitcases are always there.

(more gorgeous, fascinating SPTs here and here)

18 comments:

  1. The suitcases are wise, very wise beyond their years. They are full of wonder and I am amazed anew every time you open one of them, my dear. Looks like they'll be with us until the end.

    And that day at the Civic Yard was magical, to say the least. It was as if we stumbled upon some secret hidden world. It was amazing.

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  2. What a COOL idea with the suitcases! And what an amazing Graffiti photo for Mother's Day!

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  3. What a great way to keep your memories - I LOVE IT. You are so smart and glamorous.

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  4. I loved loved loved this post. I too keep so many scraps of history from my past, and I love the idea of having them in beautiful vintage suitcases. Mine are unfortunately in boxes in the basement! This post was beautifully written too.

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  5. wow, what an amazing mother's day gift. i love this post.

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  6. oh andrea.... guess what i have 3 suitcases... and they used to sit by the bed - they are now across from it.... our paths continue to entertwine....

    although i don't keep such cool treasures in mine.... i thought about it and then changed my mind.....

    can we see the suitcases? i'll show you mine if you show me yours :)

    love what you say.... as always.... you have such a gift with words!
    xo

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  7. this was a magical post and I could almost smell the suitcases while reading it :) great idea too!

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  8. I love how this story goes full circle...and your mother's day card was amazing.
    i love reading about all the little things you have tucked away in those suitcases...

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  9. I love the idea of a trunk full of memories, but compartmentalized in suitcases??? Brilliant and fabulous all in one. My two favorite descriptions. I'm so on the hunt for some now.

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  10. for me it's hat boxes. every new year a buy a new hat box and everything i want to save from that year goes into the hat box. i have so many now it's almost ridiculous. one day, when i'm gone, my son will get the joy of dealing with all of it...and really, i hope he does find a little bit of joy tucked in each box.

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  11. Well, it sounds like you're back in full effect! I'm glad to see that you are feeling better...assuming so as this is an incredible post. I have one antique brown suitcase, but never knew what to do with it...I just felt drawn to it and it remains an object of my affection. I never thought to store other precious objects in it...what a cool chick you are! Thanks for being you!

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  12. thank you for sharing. I love this one.

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  13. Your suitcases sound amazing. What wonderful treasures. Love the photo and its story!

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  14. You are so cool! Gosh- you and your husband are cool! Great post. As always I am intrigued by what you have to say. I'm just amazed by you!

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  15. beautiful words. and now i am going to have to send you a photo of a few suitcases i have stashed myself! so cool all those memories! i'm sure your babies will cherish their parents lust for each other!

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  16. andrea, this post is amazing. the picture and the words.
    i love the romance of you swirling about, not knowing the wonderful, sweet future that you will have with your wonderful ward.
    i love the vision of you opening each suitcase and combing through your history.
    i have stuff in different boxes that i have acquired. i, too, enjoy taking them out and sifting through each letter, picture, artifact...

    i agree with what abby said about you being one cool chick!

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  17. thanks, y'all. I'm humbled by all your wonderful words.

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