It’s true. They’re usually resigned to the confines of the basement, the attic or the garage but if what yours contains is the same as mine then it’s akin to discovering a buried treasure. In the time it takes for them to be rediscovered they usually get covered by a thin coating of dust. Maybe over time the edges have become a bit torn and frayed and whatever metal that was used to snap it closed has begun to rust.

A random sampling of what lies within might contain old love letters that were either authored before the days of e-mail and either hand delivered by the mailman or dropped off the by the author like a thief in the night. If you’re lucky, only the ink might have faded but the sentiment it intended remains as strong as the day it was written.

Further digging might reveal old black and white photo’s taken before our entry into the disposable age where we can delete the pixels that we don’t like and commit them to the digital scrapheap. In the photo’s that remain you’ll probably see stern faced men and women staring back at the camera, afraid to move lest the picture be ruined. The poses they assume look so formal and staged that you think you might be staring a statue. If you’re lucky, on the back, somebody might have taken the time to scrawl in the details of the occasion such as the date and who the participants were. If you’re even luckier, you might even remember them and maybe a small smile will crease your lips and a tear will well up in your eye as you think about the good times they’ve brought to your life.

Besides the pieces of others, you might find pieces of you tucked away in there. Old report cards might conjure up memories of friends from school whom you hadn’t thought about in years and your mind might start wandering and wondering how they fared with their lives. You might start thinking about your first set of teachers who at the time you thought were taskmasters but now have come to recognize the methods behind their madness. Faded obituaries of relatives long since departed and whose graves have been left unvisited by family members for years might feel some kind of cosmic smile come upon them when their names are spoken and their memories recalled.

Maybe there’s a few special toys or knickknacks in there that once held a story of their own that was silenced but now that they’re in the palm of your hand can be retold.

Maybe you do all of this re-discovering by yourself and are left with a feeling of melancholy. Maybe you do it with your loved one or child and you feel the warmth of nostalgia wash over you as they hear the tales behind the contents for the first time and the questions they ask inspire you with answers that you’d thought you’d long since forgotten. Maybe it fills some unattended void or showcases you in a new light. Maybe it reveals something to them about you that they’d never known or taken for granted.

Yes, there’s a special place in my heart for old suitcases.

Maybe it’s a sign of my vanity but someday I hope to be packed up in one and dragged out every now and then so that whomever comes after me can hear my story, abridged and faulted as it might be.

Maybe one day I'll be lucky enough to feel that cosmic smile that I mentioned earlier cross my face.

I guess you can call it my own brush with eternity.

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