A Girl With A Suitcase

DSC04409I’m fond of these little girls, watched from a distance as they pretend, conspire, and tell each other secrets. They come as they are, or however they feel like being. An outfit built around a frilly mesh skirt with pink tights serves just as well as a hand-me-down tee shirt from a brother or  dungarees and cowboy boots. Tiaras and wands are optional.

They can be a bit exclusive. They have their own things going on and no need for some old lady, benign as she might be, to ask them silly questions or document their antics. But I do know this. The one whose name is Millie, when asked what she wanted for Christmas, said: a suitcase.  I keep thinking that’s like a little poem in itself.

There was also a poem in the bobcat who strolled up our driveway on Christmas Eve, in no hurry at all, then detoured into the orchard and was last seen scampering under the fence along the creek. Those persimmons were like poems, heaped in a blue bowl, and that crazy moon above the hills last night proliferating shadows and lozenges of light. There was a visit with 95-year-old Mr. Harbor in England, blinking through a computer screen. There was Monte standing at the shore, reading the waves, paddling out.

And I heard a poem in the little voice that called to me as I passed our neighbor’s house in the course of my walk yesterday. I turned around and looked up to the deck and it was two-year-old Virginia, waving at me and saying my name in crystal clear tones, as excited as if she’d glimpsed a wild parrot. (I remember her grandfather Lee calling out to me from that deck, not too many years ago, when I pedaled or walked by, although his shouts were usually accompanied by an  offer of a beer or Margarita, because it was hot outside, and that hill looked steep, and really, was I nuts?!)

Well, yes. I always was. Nuts that is, in a mostly harmless way, although sometimes there is collateral damage in my missteps. I just try to keep moving, make sense of things, find some sort of equanimity. And when I pay attention, all sorts of little poem-like wonders are revealed.

DSC04088Speaking of poems, I heard a wonderful podcast interview (Krista Tippett’s On Being) with poet Paul Muldoon as I walked, and he talked about poetry as a process of revelation. And when Krista asked him what he had learned about life (a question I am fond of asking when I interview people but which often tends to silence them) his answer was basically, “The thing I know now, and I’m sure this is true of many, is how — not even how little I know, but how I know nothing, in fact.”

I happen to be exactly the same age as Paul Muldoon, and I have lately been feeling just that way. He talked a bit further about all the mysteries and questions, the potential existence of universes, plural…in fact billions of them, and concluded: “To try to take that in is almost impossible, yet, I suppose, we must try, on this tiny planet…to do our best while we’re here. And I think, really, our impulse is to do our best, however often we might lose sight of it, and we can try to be kind-ish to one another while we’re still here.”

I like that. Be kind-ish to one another while we’re still here. And also, be open to the poetry, the little shifts in thinking, the new ways of looking…that unearth revelations. Like those little girls on the field by the sea, whispering secrets, one of them wishing for a suitcase. I wonder what she will pack. I wonder what  journeys she will take.

This entry was posted in Memoir, Poetry, Ranch Life, Small Pleasures and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to A Girl With A Suitcase

  1. Lovely story! A suitcase for a little girl at the Ranch makes it easier for her to get packed to see grandparents? A desire for a suitcase (with wheels I hope!) may also indicate an air of sophistication with strategy and organizing talents! That kind of child can visit me anytime. I’ll provide the packing list!

  2. Nichole says:

    This was beautifully written and very well thought out. I love the idea of a suitcase being a metaphor for the journey that life offers. A suitcase is a world unknown to you, while a blank journal is a world unknown to me. Thank you for sharing such an insightful piece!

    • cynthia says:

      Thank you for reading and responding, Nichole. I agree: the suitcase is a great metaphor. I still wonder what that little girl’s plans are. I’m going to ask her to show me the suitcase next time I go by her house.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for this story. Even without the photographs I could see the girls. I can see the suitcase I’d ask for too. 🙂 I’ve been learning about looking in a different way over the past few years and connected with your comment on that. To see poetry everywhere one looks is a lovely way to move through the world. Again there are similarities between us as my blog has become a place for me to store and share the haikus I write – one per day – which come through me quicker and quicker everyday. We live in a rich world, don’t we?!

  4. Vithiya Whyte says:

    Your words are poetry itself. How dreamy. It made me feel like that little girl. Got me wondering the thing I would pack. Beautiful. Thank you. 🙂

  5. Beautifully written! I love the sense of dreaming and wonder in this post. Our imaginations as children is such a precious thing. Something worth holding on to, even as adults. May we never lose sight of hope and looking forward to exploring. These little girls remind me of my nieces, who always no matter what, want me to “watch.” No matter how little an act that follows: a flip in the yard, a bike ride down the street, a hop – they’re eager to show me something they’ve learned. Much like the little girls in your post, I pray the disappointments of life don’t dim their spirit or take away their profound sense of who they are – care free and come as they are. Thank you for writing!

    • cynthia says:

      Thank you, Rebekah. You’re right: we can learn a lot from children, and we should do what we can to encourage the light that shines within them.

  6. I love this! That last paragraph especially…simply beautiful.


    GREAT !

  8. Sabrina says:

    I love the way this is written! Its brilliant!

  9. Rebecca says:

    Beautiful. I felt as if I were experiencing these moments. I feel such things when I walk or take time to just look out a window. Really enjoyed this.

  10. Breana says:

    This reminds me of the first suitcase I got for Christmas. I was five years old, and it was a rolling one with a telescoping handle. It was turquoise and purple, and it had my name printed on it.
    Now, these years later, my suitcase is big, black, and boring (what happens to us as adults? Do we lose our love for color?), but it is as wonderful to me as that first one. I made my first flight with the purple suitcase, and I made my first international move with every stitch of clothing I own in the black one.
    Funny how important suitcases can become. Maybe someday Millie will pack a suitcase and travel the world. Maybe something inside of her knows that she was born to wander.

    • cynthia says:

      Thank you, Breana. I love how you just told your story in suitcases! I used to have an old-fashioned train case. It had blue satin lining and a mirror on the inside lid, and a hinged brass snap that made a satisfying click when you shut it. It was just big enough to carry comic books and a few miscellaneous items. I felt glamorous and autonomous when I carried it. By the way, I have no doubt at all that Millie will one day pack a suitcase and travel the world…many times!

  11. Chuks says:

    Awesome story. Reminds me of a lot. A suitcase may even serve as a means to grow out of childhood.

  12. moses says:

    The cutest poem ever!

  13. amanda says:

    This is beautiful!

    Please visit my Blog for more inspiring things.

  14. Noor says:

    Me too. I want to have a suitcase. I guess we all do.
    We just wanna keep moving forward and wake up to a pink and perfect world!
    Simple yet so sophisticated words! Thnx for sharing!

  15. Jagoda says:

    I really enjoyed reading it! 🙂

  16. Puteri Ismail says:

    You have wrote a beautiful and wonderful poem ! I love it
    Because it really make me touched

  17. Pingback: The Girl with a Purple Suitcase | 3rd Culture Wife

  18. Felicity says:

    Beautifully written.
    I can still remember the excitement of getting my first suitcase at age 16. It accompanied me to boarding school, on 3 overseas and multiple interstate trips. By the end, it was so outdated and tatty, but I had trouble parting with it as it was such a symbol of adventure and held so many memories.

  19. Vita Forest says:

    Beautiful! I love how you are open to notice the beauty around you – its always there isn’t it? So true – the older I get, the less I know.

  20. Mabel Kwong says:

    This was wonderfully written. None of us are perfect, and along with that, each of us are unique. The least we can do in this world is yes, be kind-ish to each other, and respect each other for who we are. Love how the girl in the skirt and tights seemed comfortable to be who she is. Hope she had a lovely day out there 🙂

  21. Smooth as red ribbons flowing through the air… It brought my thoughts briefly back to the past when life was worry-free and simple, when you had no idea what you were going to do tomorrow and it didn’t matter, because LIfe was an adventure and I was just along for the ride.
    Now life is still an adventure, but I am holding on for dear life, praying that this rollercoaster do not derail..hehehe.

  22. springgirl61 says:

    This is just so beautiful

  23. Amaka Anozie says:

    Our impulse is to do our best indeed though sometimes, we misunderstand what the best is for us. And then we need Someone or Something to keep pointing out the best.
    Thanks for sharing, Cyn.

  24. This is lovely! So full of grace. Looking at the world with child-like simplicity there is wonder, awe, joy and respect. We find charm in the ordinary and marvellous-ness in the moment.

  25. Mini says:

    It’s really beautiful!

  26. This is really nice. Everyone has their own journey. Each suitcase is different and special.

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