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Mama and I spent almost three hours shopping for this suitcase.
We wanted a unique one so that I wouldn’t lose it at the airport. After almost an hour of arguing about patterns, we just decided to go for a special color. Although that didn’t make the process any easier--I refused to carry around a red suitcase and my mother always despised yellow. Eventually we settled on a color that neither of us liked: maroon. It wasn't even a normal maroon. It was kind of purple and incredibly dark.
"Well, this is unique enough..." Mama said, looking from the suitcase to me and back to the suitcase, "Do you like it?"
"Oh, of course."
It was quite annoying, shopping with Mama. There was an unspoken rule that if Mama and I couldn't agree, we had to settle on something that we both hated. I hated that rule. But I kept most of my attitude and sarcasm to myself, because this could be the last time we compromised with each other.
My father called the day before and apparently I was moving to the United States to live with him.
Mama and my father divorced when I was four and I hadn’t seen him for seven years. Sure, he called every weekend. But I couldn't say that I remembered what he looked like or that I didn't feel like I talked to a complete stranger on the phone every Saturday. During our conversation, he promised to come back, so I wouldn't have to travel alone. I really wanted to ask him, "What's the difference?" but I didn't; I had to be polite.
Three weeks went by very fast. Before I realized it, it was time to leave. As I pulled my dark-purplish-maroon suitcase behind me, tears fell down my cheeks so quickly I couldn’t wipe them away fast enough. Why did this happen to me? Why couldn't I be like the other kids? Why did my parents divorce? Why did I have to move to the other side of the world? Why did I have to suffer when everybody else had a happy life?
As I complained about my life in my head, I dumped my dark-purplish-maroon suitcase right next to the girl who was loading our luggage. It was extremely heavy but I said, “No,” when my father offered to help. I didn’t want his help. I didn’t need his help. He put me in this situation and I had to go through things that no one else had to. But I had to be polite, so I added “Thanks.”
Mama didn’t come to the airport. I didn’t want her to come and she agreed. She patted me on the head as I walked out of the door and said, “Be careful. Don’t lose that suitcase”. That was the only thing going through my mind as I went through customs, got on the airplane, listened to the old man snoring next to me and threw up in the courtesy bag. I can’t lose that suitcase…
Eventually, we arrived.
Everything was so strange--everyone looked different, sounded different, even smelled different. I wanted something familiar; I wanted my dark-purplish-maroon suitcase. It should have been rather easy to find--after all, it was such an uncommon color. After one sign and another, finally, the luggage pick-up was just around the corner. I started to run, and as soon as I turned I saw a million suitcases on the conveyor belt.
I saw a million dark-purplish-maroon suitcases.
Just like mine.
I stood there for the longest minute. Stared at all the luggage. I spent three hours shopping for this suitcase, I fought with my mother over this suitcase, I dragged this suitcase to the airport, I worried about this suitcase during the whole flight and I arrived in a foreign country, halfway across the world, with this suitcase.
And so did a million other people.
All of a sudden, I felt like such a baby. I thought that my life was so tough and that I had to live through things that no one else had to endure. But I was just in my own little world, whining and complaining. How selfish and embarrassing! A million other people had gone through the same thing, and bought the same dark-purplish-maroon suitcase for the same reason.
I wasn't all that unique and neither was this suitcase.
All those people who passed me as I stood there — everyone of them had a story. Everybody has their own issues and they all had to bow to fate and resolve the problems. “It’s called life,” as Mama always said, and at that moment, I knew what it meant.
I had no right to complain, I needed to learn how to handle life.
We moved a couple times after I came to the States. When I dig out that old suitcase, I can always picture a million dark-purplish-maroon suitcases on the conveyor belt. I always smile. Life wasn’t easy after I moved here. But I took charge and now I have more friends, a bigger house, a better school, and my stepmother was not mean after all. I would say life is pretty good.
Although I know that fate will hit me again someday.
But I am ready this time.
I can take it. And everything will be better, again. I need to face the turbulence of life just as everyone else; I am just one of the million dark-purplish-maroon suitcases.