I was reading an article from NPR the other day about the history of backpacks. Which is just about as nerdy an article as it sounds, but also surprisingly entertaining.
As it turns out, backpacks barely existed before the 1970s as anything more than camping equipment. Which got me to thinking about all the times in my life that I’ve carried a backpack (I was born in the 1990s so they’ve always been commonplace to me) and therefore all the stories and memories attached to this unusual piece of luggage.
I’ve had quite a few backpacks over the years. There was a purple one shoulder bag that I carried through most of middle school, a black messenger bag that I tried for a year before developing a permanent dent in my shoulder, and even a JanSport with a skulls and roses pattern that I carried in high school to match my ‘non-conformist’ and ‘I don’t care’ attitude.
But since 2009 I’ve had just a simple black JanSport. It’s accompanied me across nearly a dozen countries, countless domestic travel excursions, to class everyday of college, and to my first year of post graduate employment. I might even go so far as to say that this backpack has been a reliable friend to me because we’ve been through things together that no one else has.
My backpack was with me when I got sick and nearly hospitalized in Ireland. It was with me when I got lost on the way to my friend’s apartment in Paris and had to beg a German couple for a look at their map. It was with me on my first day of college, my last day of college, and my first day of work. My backpack was my constant companion on every family vacation, every bus trip to and from friends’ houses across the US or back home for the holidays.
And its carried some of my most precious belongings, too. It’s carried my writing journal all through the Scottish highlands. It’s carried homestay gifts for a family I stayed with in Switzerland. It’s carried my camera full of pictures, my GRE study books, and changes of clothing for every conceivable occasion.
Though sometimes overstuffed with weekend gear, my backpack has never let me down. It’s never ripped or even had a stuck zipper. That’s reliability you really can’t find in a lot of places and I’m hoping I’ll have many more adventures with this particular bag.
So where has your backpack been? Let me know in the comments down below!