Once upon a time a woman bought a backpack. Was she out in Colorado with her family or was it some outdoor store here in St. Louis? Now she can’t remember. But she purchased this backpack, when she decided to go to community college. It carried her books to Intro to Theater one semester and kept her company the semester she gutted it through College Algebra.
It joined her on trips, when she visited her sisters here and there.
It came with her to rehearsals at Center Stage, where she had the chance to work both backstage and onstage. It followed her to UM-St. Louis bearing with her through six semesters to complete her Bachelor’s of Art in English.
And one time it carried a few belongings and snacks, as she hiked by herself along the Fife Coastal path in Scotland for her 45th birthday.
She found the discarded backpack in her garage today. She dropped it there on her last day of finals, as a sort of nod to her accomplishment. Thinking she wouldn’t need it anymore, maybe she would even give it to the Goodwill one day.
But she remembered that she left a journal in it. She was searching for something to guide her into this next season of life.
As she dug out an old newspaper, she began to weep. What a joy it used to be to sit on campus and read the New York Times for free. Crumpled napkins from the coffee shop, where she bought coffee and a bagel to make it through the day. Pens and pencils, a miniature stapler that she stapled her papers together on their due date. Memories tumbled out onto her kitchen floor with tears of grief and gratitude.
She was mourning the loss of such a rich season of life. Not really lost, but no longer experienced in same way as before. So much has filled her mind, changed her life and saturated her soul. Grateful tears. Much needed release and a time to see the importance of that simple backpack.
It carries her memories. And today it takes on new meaning, a satchel to fill with provisions as she ponders the new frontiers awaiting her.