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  • I have always wanted one of these, an 'Amerikakoffert'. It is more than just a suitcase; you should be able to fit most of your belongings in a box of this size. Which, I suppose, is what you would attempt to do if you decided to pack up your life and move to America.

    I'm not moving to America. I have, however, moved to Switzerland, temporarily. And in Miss Katrin's delightful, tiny shop, filled to the brim with antiques and oddities, I stumbled across this forlorn old suitcase with details in wood and leather.
  • It had a note attached to it; 'gratis', it read. The word is the same in German and Norwegian, but I had to make sure. It didn't seem right that such a lovely item should be given away for free, even if it was worn.

    "Yes, yes, yes," the little, old lady insisted, with her usual eagerness; "you can see that it's too big for my shop, I can't keep it here." She told me the previous owner was 85 and moving back to the US, obviously leaving her old luggage behind.
  • "Well, if you're really giving it away, I'd be more than happy to take it," I said. "Good, good," Miss Katrin beamed, and then she asked where I had parked my car. I told her I hadn't brought my car. "Is it heavy?" I asked. No, she didn't think so, but it was big and unmanageable. I grabbed the leather handles and lifted it. "I think I can do it," I said. She seemed amazed that I was able to lift it up, just like that. Then again, she could probably easily fit inside it.

    She shook her head, doubting. "Do you live close by?" she asked. "Oh yes," I said, convincingly, "it's not far at all."

    Shiny happy, I left the charming Pandora's box of a shop, carrying a dollhouse bathtub from 1910 and the enormous travel suitcase that had once belonged to a half-American, half-Swiss woman with the initials M.S.
  • 'Not too far' turned out to be a twenty-minute walk. Halfway home, I sat down on a bench to rest, balancing the trunk across my thighs. An elderly couple passed by and asked what was inside the box. "My husband," I replied, gravely. They looked at me, appalled, and then they hurried along.

    I guess the Swiss sense of humour differs somewhat from the Norwegian.
  • Back at the apartment building I rang the doorbell, too tired to put the trunk down and search for the key in my purse. He opened the door and looked at me, surprised. "What is that? And where did you find it, in a container?" he asked while he relieved me of my burden. I told him. "Have you really carried this thing all the way from Miss Katrin's?" he asked, doubting. I nodded, rubbing my sore arms and shoulders. He laughed, heartily. "You are something else," he said, shaking his head.

    Yes. And now I have the perfect treasure-chest in which to collect all the scattered bits and pieces from my life on the move. The only drawback is that this suitcase is far too big to fit in the back of my dream-car...
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