"Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.” – Jack Kerouac
On the way to Crater Lake it snowed. It was my first snow. I hadn’t realized how much I love being on the road until we took a trip to the Pacific Northwest, driving as far as Washougal, Washington from San Jose, California to see family and friends, and spending Easter in a town called White City.
There are things that I remember fondly about the trip, like waking up to the sight of snowfall, and there are things that I don't. And can't talk about, but should. Why? Because it’s difficult. And because I’ve been told that one of the ways to deal with grief is to talk about it. And mainly because I have not moved on from anger and denial since I found out my backpack was stolen from the car. Which means I am still waiting for the authorities to call me and tell me they found my bag, a little bruised and shaken but she's fine. You can take her home.
So we’re talking about it. But not the details of that fateful rainy morning we returned from a short hike up a rock to see a scenic gorge only to find a piece of the car door on the ground, our belongings rummaged, and my charcoal grey Osprey Farpoint 40 missing.
No, we’re not talking about that. Instead we’re talking about that morning we walked a good half hour uphill to catch the metro from Ambelokipi station to Athens International Airport for our flight to Bergamo, Italy. It was Day 20 of our Europe tour last Fall, and as I marched steadily past local commuters while carrying all ten kilograms of my belongings, I discovered I had somehow become physically stronger since leaving home.
What we’re really talking about is how I learned to (a) downsize a lifetime of belongings into one bag of absolute essentials for five weeks in Europe, (b) exist with one, and only one, bag to my name, and (c) carry that bag like my life depends on it.
We shared some moments, that backpack and I, and had plans to see more of the world together. It’s understandably tricky, I suppose, to talk about a personal loss without the risk of sounding melodramatic, for I lost not just a bag but also the irreplaceable significance she carried.
Arriving in Portland after the incident with nothing but the clothes on my back required an adjustment of reality for obvious reasons. For the rest of the road trip, I lugged around my newly acquired belongings in a large trash bag.
However, we have a camping trip (or two) coming up, and something tells me I won’t be able to pull it off with a trash bag. I figure there is no better reason and time to face the dreaded backpack shopping/ replacement process if it will put me back on the road.
After all, we have to do everything we can to keep going.
"I was amazed that what I needed to survive could be carried on my back. And, most surprising of all, that I could carry it." – Cheryl Strayed