When you are carrying all the baggage around from childhood and a mismatched set from adulthood as well, it's really hard to get around. Everyone is tripping over your teenage years and let's not even mention ages 24-27, 32-34, 35 too. You can't fly because you can't afford the extra fees for the weight of what you carry around with you everyday. People (before meeting you) think this is a metaphor. Oh, right, baggage. But this is inconveniently heavy with zippers and hidden pockets and it all looks the same so if you left it alone, you wouldn't know it's yours and this is when you realize other people carry around baggage too. Lots of the same shapes, but some a little smaller and (yeesh) even bigger than yours. There are dull colors coding these bags, but bright ones too. You swear you can see a leopard print in the distance.
Now that you start to see other people's baggage, you realize you aren't alone. So, you start to walk more, sweating and grunting a little by the weight of it all, but while you're out, people start to ask if they can help.
"That looks heavy," one says. "Can I...can I carry something?"
Your eyes grow wide and you say sure. You give them a bag and suddenly you feel lighter. Just a little, but enough to notice the difference.
You keep walking and notice someone else. They have tied all their bags together with hemp string and masking tape, carrying the whole lot on their back.
You approach them because you recognize the pain in their face.
"Hi," you say.
"Hey," they shoot back.
"Looks like you've been carrying all that for a really long time."
"I have," they say.
"See that water over there? They call it the East River. Think we could walk over there together and just...let our baggage go? If not all, then some?"
"OK," they answer.
So, you and this stranger walk to the East River where the birds fly just above the water and the secrets down below carry their own version of baggage and you each choose a few bags to let go of. There are moments you each cry, dropping tears into the water like soft stones creating hints of rings swelling the salt. There are no words spoken between you as you lift and let go. Lift and let go.
When you are done, you notice what is left. Still a significant amount, but some of the heavy ones are gone, doing a limbless breaststroke away from you. The stranger beside you has walked away, with only one bag left.
Now, you step outside more. Venture inside new places. Your arms still carry this baggage around but you have enough breaths in you left to speak and even sometimes laugh. You thought you saw that stranger again, though you almost didn't recognize them by the width of their smile. And when you looked down to note their baggage, all that was beside them was the comfort of others.
You still have your bags. Far less and not as cumbersome to carry around. You've since met others who you've walked to the water with to let go of some weight. It makes it so much easier to live.
Read more Aimee Herman in the full-length collection, meant to wake up feeling