There is no more marked moment of adulthood than buying yourself a suitcase. On Saturday, I purchased my very first piece of luggage. I had traveled home for fall break toting nothing more than an overstuffed backpack upon the realization that I had brought no proper baggage to college. When I arrived home with the handle of my hairbrush sticking through a hole at the bottom of the pack, my mom shuddered and quickly added luggage shopping to the list of things to do while I was home for the weekend. Growing up, I was certainly not a world traveler, and our family duffles always would do for the trips we did take. But now that I was flying back and forth from college, it seemed more necessary to pick up my very own suitcase. We shopped around for a bit, rolling out bag after bag, shuffling through interior pockets and rating exterior designs. It was serious business. After quite the back and forth between me and my mother (as most shopping experiences included), I decided on a carry on and its slightly bigger counterpart. When I pulled them to checkout, I was oddly excited.
That feeling dissipated quickly. They made their way to the house, and for the next few days, I tried to forget about them. College is wonderful, but there’s nothing quite like being home, or at the very least, showing with water pressure. The suitcases stood in the entryway as a reminder that I would need to reboard the plane back to Columbus, so I largely ignored them. On Tuesday morning though, the incessant boarding pass notifications on my phone forced me to start packing. Begrudgingly, I got up and grabbed my new buys. I stuffed them with all of the items forgotten on move in day, and zipped them up quickly. I threw them in the car, and kissed my dog goodbye. Then suddenly, I was at the airport all alone, going back to what was now considered my home, toting two huge bags in each hand. I wore a wool sweater, oversized jeans, and a fanny pack stuffed with pieces of gum and extra chapstick. I couldn’t stop checking my itinerary, and I’d arrived at the airport 3 hours early. I had become an adult (namely my mother). As I lugged my suitcases through O’Hare, commenting under my breath at all of the slow walkers, I came to realize how much things were changing. Adjusting to college is a transformative experience. The ways in which you now are fully responsible for yourself can be a little shocking. I had never pictured myself running through the airport all alone. But here I was, and now equipped with the right bags, I was sure I would do it many times more. My new suitcases reminded me that I was growing up (purple and shiny as they may be).