Wednesday, October 12, 2011

R.I.P. Backpack

Today as I arrived on campus at American University I searched around my backpack and noticed quite a large tear.

I was suddenly over come with emotion. I know how trivial it may sound to care about an item, especially one as common as a backpack—but for me it’s the end of an era.

I don’t remember when I got this backpack, I suspect its when I started college. It is lime green and grey and I am sure I admired it’s bright exterior. One thing I know for sure is that when I got this backpack I never knew the adventures we’d have together.

My backpack has kind of taken a life of its own—my only travel partner and the only thing that has consistently bore witness to other life, my life on the road.

I first took it to Ghana in 2006, I remember packing it for my first time really “back packing” a trip to the Volta region. Right after I hit the road with my buddies our tro tro ( local transportation) broke down, here is photo evidence.

I cradled this backpack in the scorching heat, and we were patient.

A few months later I went on 2 ½ week trip to Mali and I decided to for-go buying another larger back pack, and stuck with my little green pack. Everyone was shocked that I had packed so light— yet when we walked through the Sahara desert in Dogon country, I fell in love with my tiny backpack.

This backpack has seen me through hell and high water, literally, high water through the rainy seasons, and the hellish heat of the desert. It has been my pillow, my chair, my head rest, my foot rest. It was my security blanket, as I wrapped it around my legs during long journeys to protect it (although at times I suspect it was protecting me).

My back pack has been to 17 different countries and 5 continents. It’s seen elephants in Masai Mara, the tops of temples in China, wine country in South Africa, rock hewn churches in Ethiopia, and too many adventures to recount. There are mud stains from South American rainforest, and for some reason always sand from beaches or deserts in it's cracks.

I guess this is more than just an item to me; it has taken on so many roles in my travels it’s a badge of honor, scratched from use. When I was alone and so far from home, this backpack was a comforting friend. It is always a reminder of my adventures and close calls-- it has survived it all.

It always did look foreign in America, the item was too worn in this clean cut presence; so maybe it is appropriate that it should fall apart here, I am just hoping I don’t.

So I will say goodbye to my longest travel partner, you’ve done well.