Recently I bought a beautiful and pristine red vintage suitcase. *Swoon*.
It’s circa 1950s/60s and branded ‘Airport’. It even has the original keys! I carried it home feeling like a glamorous traveler embarking on a life-changing voyage.
And then I mentioned it to my online Blog with Pip friends. Wow. I’m so glad I did! Because it sparked off lots of vintage-suitcase-love, shared stories, memories of previously owned and loved suitcases, and then thoughts of where they may have travelled before and since.
To keep the suitcase-theme going, I had planned to weave my own little story inspired by my new red suitcase, but then I remembered reading this article a few days earlier, sent to me by a friend.
The article reveals how Jane Gillooly, a film director, came to find the audio tapes of a long and illicit love affair in a suitcase she bought on eBay. She had no idea what the tapes contained, but has since made a documentary telling the lovers’ story. You can watch a trailer for the documentary: Suitcase of Love and Shame.
I find it fascinating that such a discovery is still possible, as we daily transcend and eschew the physical in an ever-digital world.
It got me thinking about the things both tangible and intangible that a suitcase can represent – from an easy way to transport clothes (arguably the key purpose of a suitcase), to a place to stash memories and treasures in the form of diaries, letters, photographs, memorabilia, music, tapes; encompassing a lifetime, a lifestyle, a hobby, a hoard, a collection of nothing or in this case, the love and shame of an affair.
But as people are encouraged to declutter and live a minimalist lifestyle, what becomes of the tangible reminders of life, love and everything?
It’s already been acknowledged that people hardly send letters anymore, and even the number of Christmas cards sent are dwindling.
Books are digital, music is digital, photographs are digital.
In our modern, busy lives, people are less and less likely to actually PRINT OUT their photographs, never mind spend time sticking them in albums and consider the ‘story’ of a particular occasion or period in their life.
Another blog friend, Sara, writing on her blog, The Imperfect Crafter, touched on this last week, and I have to agree: digital archives do not hold the same charm.
It is a sad fact that treasures and memories are increasingly ‘invisible’. And if someone died now and left nothing but a trail of social media accounts, how could that be enjoyed by family members in the future? It would effectively be lost, as presumably, these accounts would be password-protected, and one day deleted. (Yes I know that everything online is being backed up and archived for future reference by the British Library et al, but STILL. That’s not the point here. It’s not information that is easily accessible to the average nostalgia-hunter, or in any way as appealing as it would be to find old letters, diaries, tapes, in a vintage suitcase…)
Luckily I’ve long documented the everyday with my geeky joy and pride in scrapbooking, so I say YES! to the physical ephemera of life, and if you’re wondering where to keep yours, then I recommend a beautiful vintage suitcase. Or maybe a whole (retro) stack?
But what actually is in my suitcase?
Well, I didn’t buy it with any particular purpose in mind because that’s the kind of magpie I am, but now you mention it, mine is stocked with scrapbooks and photograph albums and all the special little (paper) things that I want to keep.
And keeping things like this in a suitcase means it’s all safe and neat and tidy. And transportable in case a quick getaway is required with all the treasures of my life.
I’d love to imagine that in the future my own children or grandchildren might stumble across my vintage (antique?) suitcase and spend an afternoon delighting in its contents. The very same suitcase that I bought one day on a whim, in the West End of Glasgow, with my Mum.
And perhaps they will even be able to read this very same blog post about it too.