Monday, October 27, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
What, you might ask, does this backpack have to do with letting go? Well, let me tell you!
I bought this backpack back in 1991 while I was in college. I was preparing to spend a semester studying in Paris while living with a French family in Versailles and I coerced a friend into going backpacking for a month in the summer prior to the beginning of our semester. The time I spent in Europe was truly unforgettable, I spent my entire Senior year of my college years in France. That summer before my Senior year was adventurous, cultural, and magical. I was 21 and Lauren and I bought Eurail passes so we could travel all over. We also joined the youth hostel and many times stayed in youth hostels. Later on when I worked for Franklin College Switzerland, my boss called it the American tour since we spent about 1 or 2 days in each of the major cities of Europe.
I will never forget some of the fellow travelers we met and the welcome (or unwelcome) we received in some of the countries. This was also a time of great change in Europe and in our world since the 'Wall' fell in Berlin in 1989 and Gorbachev was about to be replaced. When I look at this backpack, I remember sleeping in the train in the couchettes (sp?) and occasionally even sleeping in the train station. I remember certain hostels, like the one in Copenhagen that was so clean and had so much food and the hostel in Heidelberg that had no shower curtains (I had to throw my modesty away that day!).
I remember seeing all the pickpockets who tried to steal from unwitting tourists, fortunately they left me alone for the most part. I remember eating alot of good food and not so good food. When I look at this backpack, I get warm feelings thinking of how my life was about to change in the next year from being a college student to an adult and the time I travelled was a time of great independence for me.
I also remember using this backpack when I hitchhiked with friends through France. We never planned on doing it, it just happened. I had a Eurail pass, but the places we wanted to go to, we had to pay on our own, then we arrived in a small town in France, trying to head to a remote area on the coast. When we arrived, we discovered there was no train, no bus to the next town, it was fall and the tourist season was over. We also found out there were only 2 taxis in town and one driver was ill and the other driver had already taken a fare. So that was that, we decided to start walking down a road headed in the direction we wanted to go. There were 3 of us, myself, my housemate and her classmate. We were 3 women of different ages in different stages of our lives and from different backgrounds. We managed to hitchhike the rest of our trip through Northern France...Normandy and Brittany and back to Paris.
Since my first hitchhiking trip was so successful, I talked another friend into hitchiking down to Dijon and back. Kelly and I were housemates in the spring semester. We were living with a French family in Versailles and we hit it off from the beginning. We had a blast meeting different people, we were amazed to see how complete strangers would help us out with rides. Sadly, I lost contact with Kelly many years ago.
Well, that's just a snapshot of the memories I have when I see this backpack. I guess I was holding onto it in an attempt to hold onto my youth. Recently, my husband and I started to clean out our closets and declutter our house somewhat. I realized the things I hang onto are JUST things, they aren't the memories and it's okay to let go of THINGS, I will still have those memories. So this backpack was one of the items I donated to a thrift shop. It's in great condition and I hope someone will take it on a new adventure.