I remember my experience with one of the most notorious things about travel: lost luggage. Though I used to not define Strippi as luggage, she was lost.
My father and I were traveling back to rural Ohio from Amherst, Massachusetts, and instead of taking a hotel room for the night, we spent the night in the back roads of pastoral New Jersey. I slept in my cousin’s old room. His bed, the olive-colored blanket smoothed over the mattress’s shape, was pushed into a corner. A space loomed between the bed and the wall where the blanket drooped toward the floor. Before I went to bed that night, I ambled about the room.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
My cousin left this place as middle school boy for a boarding high school. It remained as homage to his childhood. Rows of his worn and loved stuffed animals watched me and my companion, Strippi. The grey stuffed cat shared his toy’s worn out look. Years of use almost extinguished the faint stripes on the cloth fur. His white muzzle and hair band sash, once pristine off the self was now tinged with use. I peered at a random selection of his comic books and looked at his paintings. Once hung on his wall out of pride, the papers now stayed behind with his other baubles.
Done with my exploration, I settled into bed and hung Strippi from wrist by her sash. Strippi and I had been to many foreign places, since second grade, she remained constant at my side as she did through that night in New Jersey.
I packed in the morning, and my father and I left those rolling hills behind us for the long stretch of the Pennsylvania turn pike. We arrived home late, and as I unpacked my things I didn’t find Strippi. I decided that I hadn’t looked hard looked hard enough, but went to bed anyway. The morning affirmed my conclusion. Strippi, memento of my childhood, was left behind between the wall and the bed in my cousin’s childish bedroom.
I had lost the one item I had never lost before. Strippi now lay neglected amongst another child’s things, all foreign but familiar. I finally began to mature out of my attachment to Strippi. Though, four hundred or so miles apart, each of us were in our proper places. I was a sophomore now and preparing to board at my high school. My allegory agreed that Strippi should be left behind with other childish things. I readied to leave my old bedroom, my parents, my old friends, and I started by accident, by forgetting Strippi.
I still had the three months of summer before I began living at my school; it was time for the trip back up to Massachusetts and to my Aunt’s house in New Jersey. I couldn’t quite dash to the bedroom first thing, but it was scant minutes after we arrived. There Strippi was, partly assimilated into the room. Strippi sat by the lamp next to the bed staring up at the ceiling, waiting. I plucked her up and she finished the journey with me to Amherst. She travel back home with me as well, but she had changed from a companion to a relic. I had grown accustomed to the distance.
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