When I was thirteen-years-old and preparing to start eighth grade, I threw my backpack onto a bonfire. I don’t really remember the logic behind this maneuver, but I’m sure it was bulletproof. So, before eighth grade started up, my mom took me to the L.L. Bean outlet store and got me a new, blue backpack. She also forced the cashier to explicitly explain to me that this backpack was not fire retardant and that I should not try to burn it.
This backpack was dark blue, had two big pockets, a little pencil holder, a hole for headphones and even a ‘hidden’ Velcro pocket. As far as eighth-grade Sam was concerned, it was the coolest bag that had ever been created. From then on, every day started the same way: I would wake up, load my books, lunch and sports shoes into my new, blue backpack and get ready to face the day. Books and shoes went in the big pockets, lunch went in the middle one, and the small pocket in the front was always full of pencils, pens, coins and gum wrappers.
High school rolled around, and though the routine changed, my backpack did not. It became my traveling partner for away basketball games or track meets, a trusty hiding spot for things I wasn’t supposed to have and a pillow for drunken nights at friends’ houses. Throughout my high school career, my trusty backpack carried, among other things, a live cat, 20 McDouble sandwiches, 30 cans of Miller Lite and an entire sword that I found at a flea market and decided to bike home with. It was on my back when I asked my date to prom, went swimming when some seniors pushed me into the lake behind our school and held my water bottle when I went to the big state meet for high jump.
Then, college rolled around. So, I loaded up my trusty backpack, crammed into the car with dad, and headed out to HWS. Everything was scary and new, but my backpack and I were ready. Everyday I’d load it up, take a deep breath and see what Hobart had in store for me. Through four years of trudging through rain, snow, sleet and whatever else Geneva throws at me, I have never had a paper get damaged or a computer break. This backpack made it to South Africa and back, to the top of the tallest mountain I’ve ever climbed, to Canada, Yellowstone and Honduras. It came with me to Rochester when I ran a half marathon, held the contents of my life when I worked in Boston for a summer, survived a lighter catching on fire while it was on my back (not fire-retardant, my ass) and has made it back from every party it’s been to.
I have had this backpack for almost ten years now. It’s ratty, beat up and has its fair share of battle scars, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ll admit, it’s a little strange to be attached to a backpack, but this thing has had my back (literally) for the past ten years. At this point, it’s basically just a blue, plastic extension of me. So backpack, here’s to another ten years of me filling you with weird stuff. You know you like it.