Thursday, February 01, 2007

A touching saga of friendship, loss, and perseverance.

First, a little back story.

I've had the same backpack since sixth grade, and, for those of you keeping score, that means I've had this same crusty black Jansport for more than half my life. It's been through various washing machines, mud puddles, three continents, and forty-nine states. (Let's pause and shake our collective fist at North Dakota. Thanks). It's held math books, bass strings, novels, wine, and once, this sandwich got buried under a bunch of biology notes, went mouldy*, and made my backpack smell like some sort of small, cadaverous rodent. It's older than several of my cousins and colored with various memorable stains (paint from that time we had to re-white our walls, mustard from a particularly delicious sandwich, discoloration from the removal of a wad of fossilized Doublemint). And you know how kids used to write their favorite bands on their backpacks? Mine's still boasts the pentimento scrawlings of Ratt, Queensryche, and Temple of the Dog. And yes, that does embarrass me.

Sadly, like old habits, old stuff dies hard. That little outer pouch hasn't worked since I was but a high schooler and the left strap has an annoying tendency of undoing itself at inopportune times. But I'd treated those little injuries with love and tenderness. They were like scraped knees or a decidedly stubborn paper cut or a new Tim Allen movie: thoroughly annoying, but nothing worth truly fussing over.

Then yesterday, after returning home from a grocery store run (and filling the selfsame backpack to the seams with pretzels and wine), I noticed it. Down there at the bottom. A rip. Not a big one. Not one of those rips where you're crossing the street and suddenly all your stuff is in a puddle three feet behind you, under the tires of an Escalade. No, not quite that big.

But, then, any rip in any fabric gets bigger. It's a simple law of nature. It's as innevitable as gravity, as Haley's Comet, as my resignation to watch the Superbowl and subsequently wonder why the hell I wasted my Sunday again. I'd resigned myself to retiring this fine, hard-working piece of luggage, perhaps giving it a Viking funeral on that lake in the park. But then I reconsidered. Not just because I'd get arrested, but because, really: just a rip. You can't just go Dr. Kevorkian on something this hearty after thirteen years, can you?

I say no. We've got patches & sewing machines still right? Sure, I can't use them, per se, but I know people who can, goddammit. In the meantime, I'm going to sit here at work, like some tearful sergeant in a touching Vietnam drama, craddling my backpack and whispering "I'm not losing you! I'm not leaving you here to die!" It's Oscar season, after all.

* Yes, I realize, as an American, that should be spelled "moldy." But the British spelling seems way more appropriate. Much mouldier, certainly. Perhaps I've given this too much thought though.


ali. said...

there is nothing wrong with liking queensryche - hello, "operation mindcrime"? haha. :)

SOL's view said...

Sad. Truly sad.

Katie L. Thompson said...

Sadly, I still wear tshirts that are that old. My oldest shirt is a Lion King shirt that says Hakuna Matata; I've had it for almost 13 years now.

Valsauce said...

Mending it up just gives it more charm. That mended rip might just end up being "that one time that I thought it was a goner, but then I blogged about it and it was okay".

Emmie said...

I can never part with old stuff. Kind of get attached to them just like you. Nice post.
Peep into my friendship blog for some beautiful e-greeting cards and friendly tips.

Waunalifegal said...

Dear Mr. Birdmonser spokesman-person: at the risk of going PETA on you, I suggest you retire your beloved backpack before it too breaks a leg (or a strap).

Stuff it, bronze it and hang it above your bed or turn it out to pasture and let it enjoy its retirement as it served you patiently these last thirteen years.

A dumpster or a dog food can is a sad fate for some inanimate (or animate thing)that works its guts out for we bipedal post-ape types. Perspective is a great thing, don't you agree?

birdmonster said...

All: Thanks for the pleasant wishes. The aforementioned backpack joined me in other, adjacent Northern California towns, it's rip lengthened, and we had brunch. It was lovely. And you're right valsauce: it's going to get repaired and end up with yet another scar.

(And ali: there is nothing wrong with Silent Lucidity either)

Anonymous said...

I used to feel that way about shoes, getting them repaired until they were beyond repair, then still wearing them. then I had intensive pyschotherapy for about ten years, now I own lots of shoes all new--I saw go out and have a backpack shopping spree-get one for every mood.

Anonymous said...

i meant to say.. I say instead of " I saw go out"
I say, as in I say old chap why don't you do something about that dreadful old backpack!

Emmie Johnson said...

Am feelin really bad...It is sad indeed!! Dont worry, u'll soon get over it

robert said...

dont worry dear....i felt bad while going through ur post...but am sure time will heal up everything...u just have to wishes :)