“So, this is where I can store my luggage for a couple hours? Until the bus arrives?”
The man nodded. Yup.
It was early morning on the Tahitian island of Moorea. Just a smidge after dawn. Already blazing hot. Sweat slithered down my top. I was woozy from 24 hours of nonstop travel—cramped airplane seats, ferries, vans. Like a time traveler. Body, here. Mind, elsewhere, lagging behind.
I tugged the zippers on my suitcase, backpack, and computer case, verifying that everything was secure. This is what I do when I’m anxious. I tug. And then tug again. I double-check things—straps tied, windows locked, candles blown out. Tiny compulsive tics, barely noticeable to others, confirming that I’m safe.
But in this moment, I could have tugged a thousand times and…I still wouldn’t have felt safe. Because nothing about my life felt secure. Everything felt chaotic.
Back home (did I even have a “home” anymore?) my partner was moving into his own apartment. Tenants moving into our house, the one we’d shared. Everything I owned was in boxes labeled “keep,” “donate,” and “sell.” He and I were still “together,” because we couldn’t bring ourselves to officially say, it’s over. Together, but not really. Sort of. Kind of. Who knows. TBD. The future of our relationship was unknown.
Everything had become so complicated. Problems with no solution. He wanted things that I couldn’t stomach, couldn’t agree to do, as much as I tried. And vice versa.
Hundreds of conversations with no resolution, spiraling back to the beginning, each one more discouraging and exhausting than the last. Could we find a way to stay together—without one of us withering and dying a little bit, every day? Could there be a solution that we just weren’t seeing clearly? How did this happen to me? To us? How is this my life?
Waves of anxiety consumed me. What was he doing in his new bachelor pad? Who was he seeing tonight—and was she prettier, more exciting, and more interesting than me? What happens after I get home, after this trip? What then?
I didn’t know. Anything.
And so, obviously, I really needed to confirm that my luggage would be securely stowed. The one fraction of my life that I could control.
“May I have a luggage tag, please?” I asked the man at the counter. “Like, with a number? Or my name? You know, so when I get back, I can get my stuff?”
“Don’t worry about it,” he said kindly. “I’ll recognize you. I’ll be right here.”
This didn’t satisfy me.
“But my laptop…” I trailed off, by way of explanation. He continued to smile, unbothered, unworried.
I exhaled wearily. Pressed further.
“I would really like a luggage tag. Please.”
He looked me right in the eyes. The smallest smirk on his face. The tiniest chuckle. His expression said, wordlessly, “Okay, crazy lady. Sure. Fine. I’ll get you…your precious luggage tag.”
He rummaged inside a drawer that probably hadn’t been opened in decades. Found a tattered, stained scrap of paper. Found a pen. Wrote an X on it. No number. No name. Just X. Handed it to me.
I glanced down at this sorry excuse for a tag. A tag with no mate. So basically, just a random slip of paper. Completely meaningless.
Our eyes met. He grinned impishly, as if to say, “Are you happy now?” We both started laughing. Big, rolling, belly laughs. The first time I’d really laughed in who-even-knows-how-long.
“Thank you,” I said, wiping tears from my eyes. “So much.”
I keep that tag in my wallet, to this day. A symbol, reminding me to unclench my ass-cheeks, laugh more, and stop clinging to the illusion of control.
Reminding me to have a little faith.
Faith in myself. Faith in my fellow humans. Faith and trust.
Trust that the suitcase will be fine. And if it’s not? You won’t die.
Trust that the bus will arrive eventually. And if it doesn’t? You’ll walk.
Trust that the money will come in. If not? Worst case scenario, you’ll come up with a Plan B, C, D…and eventually a Plan Z. You’ll figure something else out. You’ll land on your feet. There’s always another way.
Trust that your heart will heal, with patience and time and action, too. Trust that you will love again, miraculously, even more than before. Trust that the best years of your life are not behind you. The best is still yet to come. Trust that you are strong enough. Trust that you will survive.
Most of all, trust the luggage guy.