This summer I did something for the very first time: I left my L.L. Bean backpack at home and hit the road. My decision didn’t come lightly. After all, this backpack has traveled literally everywhere with me from high school to Europe to my cross country road trip. Where I went my L.L. Bean backpack followed. Until now.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing a backpack over any other bag. At the end of the day, it really is just a place to throw stuff. And throw stuff I did. Over the course of 12 years, this bag helped me carry around my entire life at times. I bragged about its age, as if it were a vintage Chanel pocketbook and not what it really was, which was a ratty old backpack. Sure, it wasn’t totally falling apart, but the backpack had definitely seen better days.
There was something interesting about sharing all the cities and places I had taken it over the years. It became a stand in for my own stories. Instead of me flying to Paris, it became my backpack that did the traveling. Though it was interesting that the backpack had been everywhere, but it was even more fascinating that I had been there. I’m not one to share about my travels because it has always felt like bragging to me. Instead it became easier to assign experiences to an inanimate object and not to me.
It’s easy to say the bag is ugly–that wouldn’t be a lie–but ditching my backpack ultimately had very little to do with style. The choice was ultimately about taking ownership over my own experiences and leave my backpack behind. I’ll probably never give away my beloved backpack, because it’s made it this far with me. For now it just has to sit on the shelf and take a break.