Whenever Amy and I arrive somewhere new in our travels, I become aware of our luggage. It starts sometime shortly after we hop off the bus or train that delivered us from the airport to the vicinity of where we are staying.
We enthusiastically lug our bags onto the street and scan the area calmly for signs, reading over the directions we saved to our phones on how to get to our room. But the directions (or our sense of them) are whack, so we pull out a terribly unhelpful tourist map and spin around in a few more circles, a little less calmly. Eventually, we pick a direction (usually what was our first instinct) and start walking, luggage in tow.
Then it happens. Without fail, Amy pulls out the handle on the top of the case she is carrying and begins dragging it behind her on it’s wheels (as any sensible person would). And since almost every walkable ground surface in Europe is some kind of cobblestone or tile or brick, it begins.
CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK CLACK.
The wheels of Amy’s suitcase are unforgiving on each break of the sidewalk. Our movement through the city sounds out like machine gun fire as Amy’s wheels pass over the intricate patterns of small tiles or stones.
We have the loudest luggage in the world. The bright red bag is an acoustic masterpiece. A nice touch in our performance is the way the rhythm gets slower as we become more unsure of where we are going. At every street corner the beat slows to a long rest.
Only to be picked up again with gusto when we’ve figured out where to go next.
I hate calling attention to myself, especially in unfamiliar surroundings. To me, nothing is worse than sticking out, let alone sticking out as a tourist. But there we are, every time, bright red suitcases clacking away as we alternate our gaze from map to street sign.
I begin to think, “Why oh why haven’t we invested in proper backpacking gear? At least then we would look like seasoned travelers.” I’m certain people are staring. The tension within me builds alongside the rhythmic pounding of our tourist walk of shame.
Amy does not think this way. Amy would clack on forever without a care. She’s a natural performer and the spotlight follows her. If her case wasn’t clacking she would be finding another way to be loud – she’s full of boisterous life and I love her for it. But usually I do take that damn bag away from her and tell her I’ll just carry it.
I don’t care if it’s ten more miles, that clacking has to stop.