I can still recall the harsh fluorescent lights of Ben-Gurion airport. My flight allowed for two checked-in items so I downsized 20 years of life in Israel into two suitcases. I tried to be practical, packing what I might need in a dorm room, in college, in a colder city than I was ever used to; but I also wanted to bring with me sentimental items, mementos that would trigger joy and love in me when I would need it. Alas, my baggage was overweight. After weeks spent agonizing over the selection, I found myself needing to downsize even more than I had hoped. I kneeled down on the marble floors and opened my suitcase. Like the cave from Alf Layla wa Layla, it opened its mouth to me to reveal countless treasures. My childhood looked up at me, begging for its life. As I pulled out one item after another tears started flowing down my cheeks. I recalled Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice, and started laughing because of how disproportionate this mourning was; and yet… My heart was aching.
It’s been nearly 8 years since that one-way flight. I can’t recall what I took out, except for one item: my copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare. I knew I could buy a new one at B&N so there was no point in taking it; and yet I thumbed through this book every week since I was 13... It held so many memories. Letting it go lightened the suitcase quite a bit, but it felt like every ounce removed from my suitcase was double the weight added to the knot in my chest.
– Stav Meishar