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When I was 5 or 6, I decided to run away.

I can’t recall what unspeakable childhood injustice led to the moment when I flounced into my room and started packing my suitcase, but I do remember the dilemma:

how to fit everything in?

The little blue suitcase that I kept my doll’s clothes in wasn’t nearly big enough to hold the non-negotiable running away necessities such as:

  • a flashlight to guard against bogey man,
  • books and books and books to read while “on the road”,
  • clean underpants (in case I was in an accident),
  • penny bank (a plaster, brown-and-white pig approximately the size of my entire torso),
  • and red-and-white checkered umbrella and raincoat ensemble (one can never be too stylish while running away),

let alone my TREASURES.

Red cowboy hat:

red cowboy hat and rubber boots on swing

There’s me in my red cowboy hat (and rubber boots, of course).

Thumbelina doll:

Thumbelina doll

Really quite small but somehow, trying to squish it in the suitcase, it seemed so very, very big.

Mickey mouse record player:

Mickey mouse record player

This played REAL records!

and my Elizabeth doll:

Elizabeth doll by Fisher Price

Elizabeth (and her companion, Audrey) were much-loved Christmas presents to my sister and me from Santa


I should have known right then and there, that I was never going to be a footloose and fancy-free kind of gal.

Too.  Much.  Stuff.

My new vintage suitcase evokes a 1974, running away kind of vibe too.


As in, Practical Man wants to run away when he sees the loud pattern.

I think he might have some kind of rare retinal disorder.

I love him anyway.

This suitcase is approximately the same size as my old running away version.

vintage suitcase with wild flowers all over it

LOVE the vintage fabric!

The inside is pristine, as if someone 5 or 6 years old couldn’t quite fit all her treasures in there either.  As a result, it probably rested, only occasionally disturbed by a fleeting fancy of running away, until it was returned to under the bed.

I think it wants to be my new briefcase.  It is not only (obviously) fabulous looking but eminently useful with both interior and exterior pockets and a handy umbrella slot.  I can’t wait to take it out into the world and around the university, full of fun stationery supplies, snacks, a sunhat, music, assorted Sharpie markers, and life’s essentials:  books and books and more books.

top of suitcase with umbrella slot

Who wouldn’t want a briefcase like this?

Some things never change.


I picture myself with a fetching hair scarf and Sophia Loren sunglasses.

Our 1970 Fiat 500 - Bellina

Our 1970 Fiat 500 – Bellina

Even though Sophia Loren was a bit before my time and I’m not completely sure my pasty Anglo-Saxon complexion can pull off her sunglasses, I’m sure they are the height of Italian sophistication.  So, I need some.

My fetching scarf is blowing gaily around me in the wind and I am mysteriously alluring (despite my slightly sunburned and freckly visage) behind my Sophia Loren sunglasses and I have really white teeth that sparkle in the lemon-scented sea air when I laugh, because we’re on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, of course.  Perhaps David Rocco or that guy from Under the Tuscan Sun is there too.  Who knows?

After all, it’s a 1970 Fiat 500 I’m driving.  I am meant for the Amalfi Coast with its spectacular coastlines and James Bond-y  scenes in elegant casinos.

Oh wait.  James Bond was in Monaco, I think.

Anyway, close enough.

The Fiat is elegant with its cream paint, streamlined steering wheel and custom 70s-inspired, flowered seat covers.

Bellina's Seat Cover Fabric

Bellina’s Seat Cover Fabric

Of course, there is no room for luggage inside my diminutive little Bellina.  I mean, what if David Rocco or that guy from Under the Tuscan Sun are hitchhiking and require rescuing or topping up of their Limoncello?  We need room in the “back seat” (and I use that term generously) for such opportune emergencies.  Besides, Bellina is too busy being stylish and Italian to worry about sensible things like where to stuff the luggage.  Charmingly impractical.

Not unlike the scarf that is barely clinging to my hair.

Hence, the vintage suitcase, which I found last week in a local thrift shop.

my vintage suitcase

My vintage suitcase, ready to be festooned with travel stickers

If we want to carry anything with us (picnic lunch, sun goo for my pasty complexion, white dresses in case we suddenly feel the urge to change wardrobe for a date with the guy from Under the Tuscan Sun), we need to do so on the exterior of the car with a vintage-appropriate luggage rack over the boot (that’s British for “trunk” because it sounds closer to what a European car should have than “trunk” and besides, I don’t know how to say boot or trunk in Italian).  I have great plans to plaster the valise with stickers appropriate to world travellers like Bellina and me.

“Hey, Chris, let’s go to the County,” says my friend, Pippi (not really her name but it makes her more mysterious this way, don’t you think?)  She is wearing a similarly fetching Roman Holiday-inspired get-up and we are headed to nearby Prince Edward County, Ontario.  There is no Limoncello but they are known for their wine and we plan to amuse the Jaguars and Porsches by pulling up next to them in the parking lots, pretending we are one of them (when, it should be obvious that we are far better).  After which, Pippi will sample the local grapes.

“My name is not Chris,” I inform her haughtily.  “I am Pia.  Do my sunglasses mean nothing to you?”

Pippi grins at me and I notice that her teeth are sparkling in the sun.

It’s not quite Amalfi, but it will do.