After a solid week of rain the sun is out again and it is almost baseball season again. I love baseball, I always have. One Christmas I received a book that was full of pictures of baseball cards. I carefully cut each and every picture out of the book. I then took my beloved trapper keeper, which was already a few years old at this point, cut the plastic on the outside and removed the cardboard pieces. I then glued the pictures to the cardboard and then sealed them back in the plastic cover. This was in 1988, I was in the sixth grade. I carried my custom binder all year, and then the next year and the year after. As the years past the Velcro stopped sticking and the flap began to tear, but we had been through too much to part ways. So I tapped the flap and held the whole thing shut as I carried it. Many, many more adjustments had to be made through high school. Don’t get me wrong my parents would have bought me another one and I started working at 16 so I had the funds but you can’t just replace an old companion with a newer version, though some try. I graduated high school and started journalism classes at Westark so off to college I went carrying this loosely assembled bundle of cardboard, plastic and duct tape from the 80’s. And yes, I still have it. It is stuffed with college newspapers and letters from high school not to mention some graffiti from middle school including some Chuck E. Cheese stickers.
And now whenever my children come to me and say "Dad I need a new backpack" halfway through the school year we sit down and we look through my old trapper keeper. I reminisce about the lengths I went through to preserve the artifact and ask question like, "Are you carrying your backpack or dragging on the road?"
After I have tortured them for what seems like the appropriate amount of time we get up and I buy them a new backpack. One without a past, without character, without duct tape, which will be chucked into a trashcan in a few months never having been loved or patched.