On the 28th of November my big pack and I were reunited. I myself had entered the country on the 15th of November. For two weeks I yearned for my two weeks worth of underwear. It was almost every day that I called up the airport to check on the status, the progress, the “any sign of life!!” of my bag. Sometimes I got the same person answering, sometimes I got someone new; and whenever it was the latter I would feel my heart sink as their innocently cheery beginning of “Oh! Let’s have a look at your file now!” inevitably disintegrated into an impenetrable silence.
I had very little of what is usually considered to be “items of value” in there, in fact the most expensive item was without a doubt my 4/3 mm wetsuit (worth a couple of hundred New Zealand dollars). Screw losing an iPod however; owing to the fact that most of my belongings and clothing are currently sitting in storage in another city, the mishandling of my luggage meant that my options for dressing myself day to day were very very limited. Those blue trackpants that I’m wearing in the photos were my right-hand man. It’s true, you never really appreciate pants until they disappear from your life.
Of course there is something we’re all familiar with called “sentimental value”. Like my 3 and a half pairs of bikinis. Synonymous to me with the summer I started learning to surf; with freedom, beach-life, a surfing road-trip with 8 other girls I’d never met before, and with relinquishing body hang-ups to make way for unapologetic playfulness. Or like my booties, bought from Pukas in San Sebastian. They are the second pair I’ve owned since the only way I could have continued with my first pair would be if I were to always have a personal bootie-removing assistant on hand post-surf, and said bootie-removing assistant had the patience to spend 10 minutes tugging on the bootie that had long-since decided to form a beautiful symbiotic union with my foot. The effort of getting those damn booties off was something akin to giving birth. Or like the educational Spanish book I bought for 2 euros from a street book stall in Berlin, just a few steps away from that eery Bebelplatz placard “Where they burn books, they will in the end burn human beings as well.” [Heinrich Heine] Printed on brown paper and originally created by the Spanish Association for Applied Linguistics (yeah, I just looked this up), it’s entitled “Argentina: Genocide and resistence”. ………. I know it doesn’t sound so inviting but I’ve not seen many books that have the look it has, and I’ve always wanted to learn more about Argentina’s troubled times. The language is way above my level, but for some reason this only seemed to stoke my desire to understand it.
These things, my things. They impress no one but me. Unfortunately being someone both painfully honest and literal, when the airport staff asked me if there were items of value in my luggage, I replied no. Yet this by no means meant that I could more readily accept the disappearance of my bag.
Most of the time I’m very good at letting go emotionally of the things that I’ve lost. After all, if it’s gone it’s gone. More importantly, I’ve left behind many an object in my life, why my first year of university I lost 7 red umbrellas to lecture theatres. Yes, I have not bought another umbrella since then and I don’t think I ever will for personal use at least.
But this, this baggage mishandling and inter-airport inability to communicate debacle really did throw me for six. What bothered me more than the absence of these items from my life was the thought that someone else, or to be more accurate some money-making institution, could make these precious things of mine vanish without warning, without explanation, and worst of all, without accountability.
—- More tomorrow —-