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To a Good Old Friend

I guess you had to die eventually.

I just never thought it would happen while I’m routinely untangling you from the ropes on top of a 4X4 in Marrakesh, when something amiss catches my eye, and I notice the beginnings of an unraveling hole at your base, and it dawns on me.

Uh… oh.

To my dear old backpack,

I've carried you across the world. No friend, no piece of equipment, no sweater or shoe or hairbrush of mine has seen as much as you have. You first became mine in 2011, when I decided I would hike my way through the Andes, and I over-ambitiously hoisted your brand-spanking-new 85-liter frame onto my back. Our first introduction to each other was during those months, and not once did you never let me down. Or let my stuff down. Which is important, too.

My old friend, you saw 35 countries; over half of the number I’ve been to in my whole life. You saw over 800 miles of deep backcountry, from the tundra of the Arctic to the glaciers of Kilimanjaro. You saw -15°F (on multiple occasion), you saw wet, swampy jungles, you’ve been scratched at by bird talons and nicked by ice axes and battered by shattered glass and bathed by exploded shampoo bottles, and you always survived.

You rode on trains through Europe, buses through the Himalayas, were accompanied by chickens, by donkeys, by thousands of suitcases and strollers and backpacks in the bellies of countless airplanes. You always showed up, too. Even during delays, through canceled flights, or nine connections, you were always on the other end, waiting patiently at baggage claim. And as the years passed, you became a little less waterproof (dropped in Icelandic hot springs or Bolivian rapids too many times), a little more stained (a little orange mud from Uganda here, a little red and purple dye from the Holi Festival there), a little more frayed (getting caught on train doors and trampled on by passing oxen), and for some reason, darker (tar or grease from an airplane tarmac maybe? I’m still not sure).

But you were tough. You pulled through. You met more boyfriends than my family has, you were a pillow on hard terminal floors, you were a constant, a home, for the past five years of my life. You traveled the world with me. Some people have security blankets or a necklace or a favorite sweater.

I have an old, tired, dusty backpack.

Now you will live out your days in Namibia.

Maybe you will be repurposed. Maybe a cat will live inside of you. Maybe you will end up in the Windhoek dump. Or maybe you will stay hidden in the storage closet of my hostel until someone discovers you three years from now, and only then will you be reborn... or thrown away. I don’t know your fate, but I just wanted to say thank you.

You will be missed. (And, weirdly enough, I really mean that).

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