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Baggage Claim

July 13, 2011 | by Naomi Ariel

As an older single, I seek my precious cargo, meant specifically for me

On a recent trip to Israel, not more than 30 minutes into my vacation, I have an epiphany at carousel #6. I had left New York in a somewhat edgy, uneasy state. I am lucky enough to live in a community with many amazing young women, and our close-knit group of friends had recently disbanded and dispersed after 10 years of living together in Manhattan. As a single, 32-year-old woman, I had been trying hard to keep it together, staying positive and hanging tight, at least long enough to enjoy celebrating a family event in the Holy Land and recharge my batteries.

I speed through passport control at Ben Gurion Airport and strategically place myself near the opening of the conveyor belt on carousel #6, to watch out for my luggage and have enough time to grab it when it comes around.

Others, too, are lined up at the carousel, anxious and eager to collect their luggage. Big suitcases, backpacks and even boxes (one opened with contents spilling out) begin to spit out onto the carousel. Slowly, people around me collect their baggage as even more people crowd around, eagerly awaiting their turn. Soon more and more luggage comes around the bend, and more and more passengers are both ecstatic and relieved to be united with their bags.

I spot a few pieces from time to time which appear similar to my bag, but then realize it is not exactly the piece I am looking for. In time, anxiety descends upon me: Where is my bag? I ask myself. Will it ever come? When will it be my turn? Everyone else seems to be getting their luggage quickly and moving on with their lives, but I’m still standing here!

Eventually the same suitcases continuously revolve around carousel #6, with no visible progress. My initial enthusiasm begins to wane.

I wonder what's inside these bags that appear to endlessly come around. I remind myself that my luggage will come eventually; it always does, even when it is mistakenly sent to Antarctica or Timbuktu. Would I really want just any bag, simply so that I can move on with my journey? Of course I don’t want some other woman’s shoes, or some man's tailored suits! I want my bag, that I packed, that has my belongings.

I have full faith that it will arrive, perhaps a bit more tattered than when it first embarked on the journey

With that realization, I relax a bit and remind myself that anxiously leering and peering at every piece of luggage in no way helps me to unite with that which is mine.

So why not chill out and start my vacation right at this moment! I can freshen up in the restroom; buy a cold drink, sip and savor it; make small talk with fellow passengers as I wait patiently. I can choose to make this experience of patiently waiting a pleasant one.

I chuckle to myself as I witness a man eyeing the same green Samsonite as it comes around. Every time the piece shows up, the man fiddles with the tags, surmises that the bag is his, reaches down to remove the suitcase, and then immediately realizes his mistake – placing the bag, exasperated and embarrassed, back on the carousel. When is he going to realize that the green bag is not a good fit? He desperately needs to move on, and get over that “Samsonite letdown.” That's not your bag! I want to scream, watching him revisit the piece time and again.

More passengers continue to reunite with their intended. Now just a few passengers are gathered around carousel #6. I begin to mumble a prayer as I await my piece. I have full faith that it will arrive, perhaps a bit more tattered than when it first embarked on the journey. But my precious cargo, meant specifically for me, will arrive safely. And it will be mine.

Related Video: Four Ways to Marry the Wrong Person

At this point in life, we older not-yet-marrieds have some baggage. We have traveled to exotic locations, had unique experiences, and have lived life to the fullest. Yet who at this stage, married or single, does not have some baggage?

The carousel revolves one more time. I spot my bright orange duffel bag, and with the assistance of a kind passenger am able to collect my bag and move on. My vacation in Israel proves to be spectacular, more wonderful than I could have ever imagined. I have my baggage with me, and its content suits me perfectly.

I remain focused on enjoying all that life has to offer, and optimistically look forward to the day when I will be fully united with my true precious cargo.

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