I packed my first suitcase when I was seven, the fluttering butterflies crowding my stomach. We were traveling to the Khyber Pass and I was wearing my brand new Viyella blouse, pink with brown polka dots and a floppy collar that only my mother could tie into a bow. My suitcase was small and brown, probably not of leather, with protected corners that I told my father reminded me of the leather patches on his tweed jacket. Since then I have packed five hundred and seventy-three times, into larger and fuller suitcases made of colors and smart materials known only to man, with ordinary wheels and now extraordinary ones that revolve three hundred sixty degrees to make walking down the airplane aisle an uncommonly easy experience. I am packing right now, leaving on a jet plane tomorrow, my bright green canvas suitcase on the floor, spread like an open book, patiently awaiting its final zipping. The butterflies still flutter but now with less enthusiasm: they're having second thoughts. And third thoughts too.
I have Reisefieber, that's what the Germans call it. It's a condition that travelers will experience and describe in their own very personal ways. My Reisefieber is sweet, hot and salty: the pleasure of anticipation, the anxiety of homelessness and the dread of knowing there is a bourn from which no traveler returns.
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