Back in 2010, before I married my husband Davy and had my son Noah, I was finishing my English degree at Hunter College and long-distance-relationshiping at the same time. I had to juggle Davy in Belgium and graduating before our wedding. I’d be leaving The U.S. to live abroad.
I wrote this poem for a required poetry course, about my suitcase:
O Delsey (November 2010)
“Aye dios, it’s too heavy lady!” said the cab driver when he dropped me off at JFK. He was talking about you, Delsey. But I already knew you would be too heavy this last time around. One last trip to a new country I'd soon be calling home.
Six trips, from JFK to Brussels and back. Two in July, and one each in August, September, October, and now in November. Frequent flyer miles accrued and redeemed not yet, if ever.
The first time you were 52 pounds, and Delta didn’t make me pay extra. One time you were at 57, and I had to take stuff out of you to carry on. You’re never less than the maximum 50 pounds. I always push everything to the limit.
You nearly busted at the seams every time, yet only scratched the surface in moving my life. 4,000 miles. 50 pounds at a time.
Each leg, I took parts of me, to leave there as I planned my life there. Six times 50 equals 300 pounds of my life so far. There’s at least 500 more to go, maybe less maybe more. How am I supposed to know?
The perfect leather skirt I found in an East Village consignment shop a decade ago, the rare Oscar de la Renta pumps that wrap my feet in red wine scalloped suede that Century 21 made mine, my Bobbi Brown eyelash curler and Shiseido concealer, my bottles of Escada and Chanel and all the Louis Vuitton I own. More. I will leave some behind. But I need it all.
But on the trips home when you come back with me, Brussels-to-JFK, you're all but emptied, freed of any weight Delsey. But what about my other baggage? Do I leave it here? Take it with me there? How am I supposed to know?
O Delsey, you hold so much, with me from the very start, And although I have lost two zippers on you, you belong to me still.
Delsey, today, still looking good
My Longchamp, which always served as one of my carry-ons.
Who cares? I care. I thought of O Delsey, and shared it today, because I was asked yesterday at a catering and restaurant expo if the Louis Vuitton Luco bag I was carrying was real. I’d answered yes, and felt almost guilty about it, just like I felt guilty a few weeks ago wearing fur to a pet store and being called out on it.
I realize that the average Belgian housewife in this mostly rural socialistic country does not own a wardrobe of high-end labels nor does she traipse around in leather and fur. The thing is, I’m not your average Belgian housewife.
When I packed my life up to move here, I managed to bring with me almost everything precious to me besides people I love. I couldn’t pack my momz or my brother or cousin or girlfriends or guy friends, or families I used to babysit for. So I packed everything that reminded me of them, by packing everything me. Me. Being myself is the best way I’m preserving and cherishing everything I miss back in the States.
This includes most of my handbags, though I have a few pieces still left in New York that I will retrieve the next time I’m there. Here’s some of what I brought with me though, not including clutches:
It’s not that I’m a brand-whore. But when you’re working in finance, in private sectors, you dress the part to play the part. Your salary affords you to dress the part accordingly, to varying scales. Incidentally, I have not bought one new purse or handbag since I’ve moved to Belgium because what was once a whim purchase is now unnecessary. Besides, my collection of accessories is vast enough. And timeless. There are outfits Davy have never even seen on me yet in the three years we’ve been married. I packed that much.
There are tailored suits I once wore in the halls of global banks, that I never get to wear anymore unless I’m role-playing for sex time with Davy. My point being…I’m glad I brought them all with me. Really.
When I moved to Belgium I was taking a huge risk, but so was Davy. I was dumping my belongings in his home one trip at a time and if our vacation romance didn’t work, I had no idea what I’d do with all my shit. Neither did Davy. But it worked out and here we are proud parents of Noah and owners of Rice House…
I didn’t want to take that poetry class because it was a required course and I hated requirements by default. I loved electives. I struggle with poetry. But I’ll always remember “that poem I wrote about my suitcase.”