The only suitcase that survived my daughter's undergraduate years has taken a turn for the worse.
A friend, who knew I'd had a tough week, "propositioned" me at 11:00 p.m. Friday night.
"Meet me at 7:30 a.m., tomorrow."
I piled my clothes into my suitcase, climbed into bed and remained awake until 2:00 a.m.
As usual, I awoke before the alarm rang. I brushed the snow from the windshield, turned the ignition key and cranked up the defroster. It didn't make a dent in the thick layer of ice covering my car.
I hacked at the solid mass, sending chunks of pebbled, bubbled ice to the snow-covered drive, ignoring the 5 foot stalactites that glistened from the rooftop above. When a small, sweaty circle emerged just above the wiper, I began scraping with my library card.
I kicked the grey clumps from the wheelwells, loaded my suitcase into the back of the car, and backed out of the drive. The interior lights came on as the rear passenger door swung open.
I put the car in park and tried to slam the door. It wouldn't latch.
I stopped after I crossed the railroad tracks, to push the door closed. I blasted the heater.
I drove slowly around each corner, watching the door inch further open in the side mirror. Eventually, I called my friend and left a message on voicemail.
"I'll be ten minutes late. If that's too close, please go on without me. If you get this message, please call and I'll explain."
"We're fine," my friend said. "Lots of wiggle-room."
My friend later admitted the alarm had failed to chime and was grateful for the delay.
I was chauffered to Chicago. My suitcase was light, because I'd forgotten my pajamas. The broken wheel wasn't an issue.