This morning, after teaching, I set out to run a bunch of errands. Slung over my shoulders, I had a huge, blue Ikea bag filled with two weeks worth of laundry that needed to be dropped off at the laundromat, a bag with a package that needed to be dropped off at the post office, and a large handbag (my anxiety over not having something I, or someone with me, might need at all times prevents the possibility of anything smaller than a tote bag). There is an area with tables and chairs a block away from my apartment that is a bit of a catchall for the random neighborhood characters and homeless – it just happens to be across the street from the post office and directly in front of the laundromat as well. Sitting at one of the tables this morning were two men who, based on the knowledge I gleaned working on inpatient psychiatry units, were either very high on some substance or mildly psychotic (maybe both).
As I was schlepping my array of enormous bags I heard one of the men yell, “Where you going with all that baggage?!?”
“Over there,” I said as I gestured to the laundromat door 100 feet in front of me.
We all laughed, and the guy who had called out said, “Good answer.”
As I was waiting for the laundromat attendant to weigh my bag and print out my receipt I started thinking about the man’s question. Sure, I had literal baggage that morning, but what about all the figurative baggage? Where am I going with all that baggage? Where am I going with all the stuff I am too afraid of to unpack and closely examine so I just stuff it into a bag and toss it over my shoulder? Where am I going with all the stuff that I am scared to let go of because, what if I need it, or miss it, or just feel funny without it? Where am I going with all the stuff that got buried beneath the more recent things I have tucked away; the things I truly don’t need, but weigh me down nonetheless? What if I let myself drop off all of these things just like I dropped off my laundry and package this morning?
Once I dropped off my literal baggage this morning I was able to walk home with far more ease. I was lighter, more capable of taking in my surroundings and checking in with myself to see how I was feeling. I couldn’t help but wonder…what if one day I walked out of my apartment dropped off my baggage and simply decided to walk back home without it?