Russian matryoshka dolls, one inside the other, ever smaller, until you end up with a colored dust particle with two eyes and a nose. This is how my travel luggage is organized, one Tumi inside a bigger Tumi, until you end up with unidentifiable garbage. Currently my Tumis are arranged up to seven Levels. Recently I was looking for tweezers inside Level 5, when I realized I may have a serious problem. Although I was in a haste to get to the airport, I wasn’t looking for the tweezers for their own sake, I was looking for them to verify that they existed in the right section inside the Tumi matrix. In other words, I was organizing things for the sake of organizing things, thereby increasing entropy, not decreasing it. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), this falls under obsessive compulsive disorders.

My name is Jan. I feel like I have to hide my life inside a Tumi.

How did it ever get to this point?

The beginning may seem innocuous, like any addiction. Maybe there was a time when I just needed to organize my shit in one place. Passport. Credit cards. Keys. Papers. Laptop. Vitamins. I was being functional, organized, maybe a bit too German. One could go on for a decade with just these items. Secure them. Secure me. Find your shit fast. Get out even faster. Think De Niro in The Heat.

But then something changes. You buy another, smaller bag, to put inside the bigger one. Why would you want to do that? You tell yourself it has to do with the need to categorize your shit. To be able to pull just one section out for one purpose. If, for example, you arrive in destination X, and only need a couple of items at certain intervals, you only pull out the smaller bag and leave the bigger bag behind. OK then. But in reality, you just passed the event horizon. You just made your shit heavier and bulkier under the pretext of convenience. Even if the bag became just a tiny bit heavier, the gravity of your destiny is now irrevocable. The black hole owns you now, it’s only a matter of…

Maybe another decade.

Now there is a rainbow of Tumis, of all sizes and styles, most of them abandoned in different storage rooms and basements, simply because you kept finding a better and more efficient one. One had candle wax on it. Had to be disposed. Some had a spell on it from an Ex. Maybe two or three of those. Terminated. Most of them just got “worn” or “outdated.” The excuses shoot out like Niagara Falls. Even worse, at some stage you find another brand to complement the Tumis, as if the Tumis weren’t enough, or were lacking just that one “crucial feature.” Like a toothbrush pocket in a place that doesn’t compromise the toothbrush when you throw the bag in the overhead locker. Or the optional water bottle straw hole. I mean if you choose to carry the Tumi like a rucksack (optional straps available), you don’t want to take the fucking thing off your back just to have a sip. How much are you willing to pay for that? If you’re an addict, you’re willing to pay for it with your life.

Tumi will keep you Tumitized. Tumis, and their brethren, have evolved. The old times when you got a warm rush from a secret CD pocket are long gone. Now we’re entering the new age of mimetic carbon fibre units. Air Tight. Waterproof. Bullet Proof. Subsections that build into bigger, interlocking units. Midsection straps. Butter finger enhanced pull tabs. USB hideaways. The list doesn’t stop, and it shouldn’t. It’s a runway of opportunities – lit up for an alien encounter. This is how the diseased mind sees it.

Back to the tweezers. After realizing how sick my search was, I paused, wiped off the cold sweat, and then moved to Level 1. This is the Mother unit. The one that protects all the rest. Maybe I accidentally dropped it inside Mama? That would be a concern. This level represents brand new design and technology. You don’t want unnecessary objects lying here anymore than you want them inside the Space Shuttle cockpit.

Let me explain.

On Level 1, the main pull tab of the zipper alone is the size of a vampire bat. It’s indestructible. It’s made out of material that doesn’t exist in our solar system. Asteroids brought it here specifically for Tumi. The technology is so far out there that it doesn’t even carry a brand. Once you pull up the vampire zipper and sit on Mama, a pneumatic rush will signal a perfect vacuum. Beep. The stretchable fabric has bug repellents designed into it with nanotechnology. It’s so hermetically designed that it could be sunk next to the Titanic, and still protect a Ming dynasty porcelain cup.

It’s true, the Tumi rep told me so.

As I unzipped Level 1 further I forgot about the tweezers. For a second I was just in awe. I had forgotten how massive the main bulk section was. I carefully let my hand hover over it, feeling a magnetic current spread up my arm. Very slowly I put my head inside it. Somewhere in the corner there were stars. Then, with some hesitation, I carefully breathed in through my nose. Then my mouth. It was like catching air for the first time on a terraformed planet. A bit synthetic. Highly oxygenated. Slightly minty. Perfect. The hair on my neck stood out. I deconstructed. Then reconstructed. All in one breath. I understood this was the Alpha and the Omega. Where we came from, and where we end up. This was the origin… of the white noise on your TV.

When I finally pulled my head out for some fresh air I saw something glitter on the kitchen table.

The tweezers.

Relief. They weren’t in the wrong section of the matrix. I just forgot to pack them.

Within a blink I forgot about my insanity. I placed the tweezers back to where they belong on Level 5.

Zip. Click. Swoosh.

I was ready for travel.