My Journey By Michele Herenstein

“Move aside, please,” said the slipper to the toothpaste. The toothpaste, feeling frustrated due to lack of space, kicked the soft comfy slipper. The yellow-and-white slipper started whimpering, building up to a full-blown crying tantrum.

“Why did Michele do this?” muttered the toothpaste. “She should know how many of us there are.”

“Don’t put Michele down,” whined the body wash. “She packs us as best she can. She just isn’t the best packer. But she is good with us. She handles us carefully.”

“I agree,” said the loofah wholeheartedly.

“Who cares what you think?” questioned the toothpaste.

“Yeah,” agreed the sassy book. The book was out of sorts because Michele hadn’t had a chance to read her over vacation.

Michele had left her suitcase open to give her belongings a place to breathe. While she went to eat a large breakfast, her belongings argued fiercely among themselves.

When Michele returned to her suitcase, she dreaded the continuation of her packing. As she folded a shirt, the t-shirt started hyperventilating. “I can’t breathe,” rasped the shirt. “She’s choking me.”

“I’m not surprised,” said the toothpaste with a smirk. The book, which looked up to the toothpaste with adoration, tried to copy the smirk, but it ended up looking like a grin. The loofah smiled at the book, thinking the book was smiling, too.

The suitcase had two sections; all the arguing was happening in section A of the suitcase. Section B of the suitcase was surprisingly quiet. The iPad was reading quietly to its friends. It was trying to teach a lesson to its section that its job was to be packed and if you just stayed still and serene, time would go faster and there’d be less arguing. When the iPad’s voice became hoarse, the shower cap chimed in. There was a lot of disagreement over the story; Danielle Steele’s newest book was being read. Some belongings loved it in its simplicity. Others hated it for its dumbed-down language.

The slipper, shy as a goose, referring to the book, entered the conversation. “It’s a happy ending and we all want that.” A deep blush took over the slipper’s face because she had a crush on the jewelry. She saw the jewelry looking at her and couldn’t speak anymore. The slipper slipped into the sneaker to hide out.

The jewelry really wanted to establish a relationship with the slipper. The jewelry felt the slipper needed protection. But the slipper was so shy that it was hardly ever available for conversation.

Section A was getting all riled up. The sassy book heard the comments about her and was very disturbed. She knew she needed to visit section A and take revenge on anyone who disliked her.

The book, through hidden channels of the suitcase, went to section A. When section A’s belongings saw the book with a stormy book cover, they shuddered. Even the toothpaste had a tiny quiver of nervousness run through it. The toothpaste started leaking all over the loofah. The good-natured loofah got very upset. “You wet on me,” cried the loofah sorrowfully. “Where are the suitcase diapers?

Some of the stuff in section A started giggling. “He wet himself,” they cackled. That wasn’t the truth. But they needed something to laugh about. They needed levity.

They felt bad, so most of them helped the loofah wash up and change its diaper. The book realized it had taken on more than it could chew. He thought the items in section A were like babies. He liked section B better. But he didn’t want to leave A with everyone terrified of him.

“Sorry, folks,” he said with great force in his voice. “No harm meant. I’m returning to section B, but I hope you have a good flight. It’s Michele’s fault, not mine.”

Most of the belongings were fans of Michele and got very huffy. “Do not put Michele down!” bellowed the loofah. The suitcase shook. Everyone was tired of all the put-downs. They just wanted to take off and land in Michele’s apartment. They felt safe there. Michele was in charge, but in a gentle way.

Michele packed her belongings in a nice flat way, in order to avoid wrinkles. This is why Michele was shocked when she opened her suitcase at home, after landing at JFK airport. Her clothing and toiletries were a mess. Everything was thrown around and Michele saw her clothing was practically ruined.

Michele realized that she had to teach her suitcase airplane manners. There must have been fighting among her belongings and this was disrespectful to Michele. She didn’t want her stuff at odds with each other. She loved her jewelry, but her book and body wash were equally important in the scheme of treating her things respectfully.

She took aside her toothpaste, and the other stuff that had given each other trouble, and set up weekly sessions for packing with respect. The items that were good to Michele and each other were praised and given higher positions in the suitcase hierarchy.

The jewelry and slipper were introduced gently in Michele’s apartment and they hit it off. Michele promised to always keep them in the same section, A or B. This made them both very pleased.

The lesson for Michele and other “bad” packers is that everything needs to be treated with love and respect. If you can’t do this, you don’t deserve to own these belongings.

It’s not only true of things with a high price, but also true of a bar of soap, a Sudoku book, and a toothbrush.

Treat things right, treat people right, and you will gain love, respect, and admiration for deeds well done.

“Right, loofah?”

“Yup, Michele!”

“Right, slippers?”

“Totally, Michele.”

“Right, toothpaste?”

“Correct,” said the toothpaste primly.

“Right, jewelry?”

“Absolutely,” said the jewelry, beaming with happiness.

Speech to the Suitcase Class

Tuesday evenings @ 8 p.m.


Michele Herenstein can be reached at


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