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.