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.