un-packing the past


Written by Renee Rochelle

Approximately thirty plus years ago, in the beautiful and picturesque state of Connecticut; my sister and I did our fair share of bouncing in and out of foster care.  This “routine” spanned over a period of eight years and even though the ending to it all was a happy one, the experience created a feeling of never being “settled” or “secure”.  Some of the ways it affected my life were positive and others………not so much.

I would make sure that my life was always rooted in minimalism.  I never purchased furniture that was too heavy to move or lift by myself just in case I had to flee from somewhere in a hurry and couldn’t afford movers.  I never had “collections” of anything because I would think; “Oh no, what if I have to move.”  The exception to this rule was teapots.  I did collect those in my twenties but that was it and if I saw my collection getting too large, I would give a few pots away.  When it came to people, I did the exact opposite.  I would hang on when I should have let go of just so that I could avoid the sting of change and disruption.  Lastly, when it came to travel, I was not a fan. I hate to shock you guys but I am still not a fan of travel. I will do it but there has to be something really important happening for me to pack up and leave my cozy abode.

After years of reflection and healing, I do finally feel “settled” but I still don’t like change and I absolutely hate moving.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a move to a better place, a bigger house, or a move I asked for; I just don’t like the way it makes me feel.  It brings up old memories.

Imagine my surprise and confusion when I developed this very strong attraction to collecting vintage suitcases.  I mean seriously; why would I want to collect something that reminds me of something I hate.  I don’t use them for travel but I love stacking them up on top of each other and propping them open to see the silky insides with the worn out pockets. I like to make up stories in my head about the owners and where they may have been traveling to.  Sometimes I find an old mint wrapper or a ladies hat pin.  One time I even found a love letter.  I get excited at the thought of some college student going to Paris in the 1960s to study French.  While she is under the Eiffel tower she kisses a stranger and they fall in love.

The mind can really go crazy dreaming up all of the possible adventures these old, banged up and sometimes a little moldy suitcases have seen.  While I love them all, I definitely have some favorites!  Samsonite hard cases make for great DIY projects to add legs and turn them into end tables. Some of the more lightweight ones from the 1960s like American Tourister can be cut into shelves and mounted on the wall.  I have even seen some made into a folding doll house and smaller ones used to tote around kids toys for a trip to grandmas house.

Objects don’t have feelings but they can evoke so many.  I am enjoying my new found love with these objects that used to represent fear and uncertainty. The more I collect, research or admire; the more I am starting to think that vintage is not a “style” it’s a feeling and I like it.


Happy vintage fun my friends!


Renee Rochelle is the owner of fancydollhouse on etsy.com


check out the etsy shop for all kinds of vintage suitcases

  1. It’s funny how something so simple can bring up emotions from the past. Good or bad ,it makes sense to reflect and try to find something positive from the experience.


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