I suppose it is strange to be thankful for a backpack, but I’m about to retire this trusty friend that has stuck with me (like literally had my back) for 15 years. Yes, almost exactly half of my life. So, here’s a farewell letter as a way of saying thanks.
Dear Gray Backpack,
Yeah, I was never one to give names to inanimate objects but here I am writing a letter to you. We’ve had some pretty grand adventures, you and me. I still remember how proud I was the night I was presented with you at youth group at 15, a prize for raising a certain level of money for the 30-Hour Famine for World Vision (do they still do those things anymore? I know, I’m getting old). You didn’t get much use at first, I mean where exactly can a homeschooler tote a backpack of books except for occasional trips to the library? But all you had to do was wait and your travels could only grow from there.
Your first real test was that maiden day of college, as I packed you full of new and used textbooks and bravely set out for the first day of classes. Could I do it, could I take tests and take notes in class and survive? Soon I was fully in the swing of things, leaving you in the front of the cafeteria with all of the other backpacks and messenger bags with no worries of someone stealing you, slushing through rain and snow with you to go to and from class, to study sessions and even on a trip over spring break to Chicago. You stayed strong and were put to good use through 4 years of college and then 3 years of graduate school.
Your first trip out of the US was that summer to Ecuador. Do you remember when I sent you through the airport security scanner, scared to death because I had no idea what I was doing? Soon both you and I became a pro at going through security, finding a place to squeeze you under the seat or in the overhead bin. After that first trip you faithfully carried all my belongings through the streets of Quito, Rome, Phnom Penh and Bangkok, to the beach of Sicely and Elephant Island. You made countless trips to Dallas and Omaha, back and forth from my Midwest home to my southern home. On one such trip someone saw your sturdy bottom and unique design and asked me where she could find such a great backpack. But of course, you are one of kind and probably by now rather an antique.
You’ve handled the rigors of bus travel across Cambodian countryside with style and grace, dealing with the dirty floors I set you on, taxi drivers reaching to grab you in order to get my business. I’ve stuffed way more than I should have been able to inside of your canvas interior and you’ve helped me get all the precious goods from the big city to my village home countless times.
And now your straps are wearing out, beginning to rip and I’m afraid that soon I won’t be able to use you anymore for fear of a complete tear. So, dear backpack, you are being given permission to retire, after 15 years of faithful service. Thanks for all your help and companionship through my adventures of the last decade and a half. I can only hope your replacement will last half as long as you have!