Monday, March 30, 2009

An Ode to My Backpack

Remember that day back in the summer of 2001 when I picked you out of a wall of backpacks at REI? I do. It was a big purchase for a 20-year old college student, but one that would pay immeasurable returns. You were red and black with a multitude of pockets and straps and hooks fit to hold everything I would need to see the world. I was apprehensive and excited about being a young traveler about to set off on her own. Our first stop was France, and for five years after that we never slowed down.

Our travels took us to edgy Barcelona, rainy London, and large portions of Ireland, Scotland, Italy and France. We saw Roman ruins, Gothic cathedrals and rolling countrysides, all the while surviving an endless stream of bad hostels, long, uphill walks (I'll admit, I didn't really like you much during those), and sleepless overnight trains. You were smaller than most traveling backpacks, and therefore taught me to live minimally. I was always thankful that you were thin enough to fit through public transportation turnstiles and never hit innocent passengers while walking down the aisles of trains. I used you as a pillow, a foot rest, and as a hiding place for my emergency stash of snacks. You even posed with me in my all-time favorite travel photo; the one that, for me, defines an entire period of my life. Sitting on that ledge in Florence, looking out at the Italian countryside, life had never felt so exhilarating.

A good backpack like yourself can be a traveler's best friend. It's our constant companion, it carries all we own in the world, it serves multiple purposes, and it's always there when we need it. Needless to say, I'll forever regret storing you in the 4-plex's basement instead of my locked, second-floor unit. Maybe then you wouldn't have been stolen by the intruder who entered the building to take a bike, some electronics, and a beloved backpack. He or she even tore off your Air France identity tag, which had proudly survived years of comings and goings. I'm sorry. You were the perfect travel partner for an apprehensive and excited young traveler setting off on her own. I wish you could see me now.


DW Quilt Art said...

awww...I have tears in my eyes (ok so I am overly sentimental) sorry you lost your backpack! BTW, I got here from Andi who I found on NaBloPoMo. Looking forward to reading more :-) Diane (Francophile :-)

Tanya said...

@Diane, Bienvenue! Thanks for checking out Parisian Spring. Hope to see you around.

Anait said...

Hi Tanya!! Found your blog through a google search of Parisian blogs, and I LOVE it! It's kept me occupied at work :) I'm hoping to make a move to Paris soon, most likely in September of next year so it's really inspiration to read about someone who's done it (even if only for a short time). keep up the great blog :)

Greg Wesson said...

Sorry to hear that your backpack got nicked. I too develop an attachment to my travel gear - shoes and bags mostly. Always a sad day when you have to give it up.


Tanya said...

@Anait, Did I deduce correctly that you're participating in the Assistant d'Anglais program in France this fall? I did that exact same thing in 2003-2004. Email me if you'd like to chat about it!

@Greg, So true, all travel gear is easy to get attached to. You feel like you've been through stuff together, which is silly because they're inanimate objects, but still, that's just the way it is.

Lola said...

Lovely post! Definitely applies to a lot of personal effects.

One gets the same feeling when their favorite 10 year old sweater finally develops a tear :)