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This is your source for NPR author interviews, recent broadcasts from the Traverse City National Writers Series, and IPR's radio series Michigan Writers on the Air. You can also find NPR authors & interviews here.

Essay: Carrying the Baggage

A friend is telling me about the new man in her life.
 
“I really like the guy,” she says, “but I’m finding out he has a lot of baggage.”
 
“We all do by this age,” I say.

She and I are no longer young but not yet ready to be old. We sip our glasses of wine and reflect on that load of hang-ups and heartaches we carry around, some we’re born with, others we collect over time.
 
“Actually, we had baggage when we were twenty,” I say, “but we didn’t see it then.”
 
When I was twenty, I thought I could leave everything behind by leaving my parents’ house. It took me another ten years to feel the weight of what I was dragging along. A siege of anxiety brought me to my knees and to a counselor who helped me identify my baggage and claim it.
 
“You weren’t loved enough as a child,” he said. “Most people aren’t loved enough.”
 
I knew our family had problems but I thought I had managed to escape, to reinvent myself. My friend pours us more wine and I pick up my glass.
 
“Maybe the baggage itself isn’t the problem,” I say, “but whether or not you’ve unpacked it. You’ve got to decide what to keep and what to let go of.”
 
“I want a smaller bag,” she says. “A carry-on.”