Why my Backpack Made me Cry

A couple months back I graduated, but before receiving my diploma I left. After years of attending school and studying I was totally sick of the idea to get a job and work for the rest of my life (which I considered the default). And so I decided to travel. I headed for another continent, and was therefore further from home than ever.

Words can’t comprise how traveling makes you feel. Telling someone what it was like inadvertently ends in a repetition of superlatives, leaving both parties with quite an underwhelming feeling about the journey itself. (Not to mention the victim’s dread of having to watch an unfiltered stretch of over four hundred photos.)

I’ll just say the joy of traveling has something to do with 1) freedom - knowing you can go anywhere, 2) trust - in others and yourself, and 3) taking in new impressions - with places and people. It’s also a healthy way to get rid of prejudices, but that’s a story for another time.

On the road, far from home, I listened to The Lord of the Rings. Those who’ve dived into fiction for weeks on end surely experienced a certain feeling of investment in that fictive world and its characters. It’s why we reread entire series while we already know the story. But, even after going home a few months later, I hadn’t finished it completely.

Until that point I’d been living from whatever fitted into Jack the Backpack. I never enjoy packing, and neither did I like repacking Jack over and over (which was basically unavoidable). So I was quite relieved to unpack and reorganize everything - as far as organizing is part of my home life. Moreover, I didn’t need to discriminate stuff based on size and weight anymore, or think about a tight washing schedule.

I’d already been home for a few days when I heard a certain scene: Sam realizes he has to leave stuff and carry on with the bare minimum to help Frodo. He’s surprised how it affects him to have to part from the things with which he came so far, even though it’s just pots and pans.

I paused the story. Slowly, I noticed tears. It took me a minute to get it. I realized how I’d missed going to sleep and waking up next to Jack; stuffed and messed up, my only unvarying companion, always there when needed.

Books are a crucial part of my life, they make me understand other people and make me empathize with their feelings. Sometimes they even make me understand my own.