With a backpack on, I feel whole.
Not that I'm some fervent world traveller, hopping from hostel to hostel. With a backpack on, my body feels more in control. I know how to move, I feel more at ease.
I'm used to wearing a shirt and tie to work every day; but when I come home and slip on a beat pair of jeans and an ancient t-shirt I'm back to my normal self. Same with my ten-year-old North Face pack I got for a trip to the Maritimes.
Since then, it's been with me from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and soon to the Mediterranean. (I'm writing this five hours before I hop on a 747 heading to Amsterdam, and from there to Athens.)
It's a living extension of who I am. Opening the front of the pack has always reminded me of opening up an organic creature. Like the tauntaun Han Solo slices open on Hoth in Empire Strikes Back, like a doctor performing the caesarian that brought me into the world.
Yes this is a bit overwrought, but given 1998 is the Year of Change, the year where everything I know shatters or crystallizes, I kindly request some leniency.
This trip is the turning point of it all. This is it. Tomorrow I'm meeting someone I haven't seen for eight months, someone who's become a part of my life for the past four and half years. Last night was closure for what came before. Tomorrow is about what come next.
And this old pack, the one that makes my body feel whole, is now accompanying me as I try to fill the few remaining voids of this old life.