Excess Baggage.

11 May

*Note: The original purpose of this post was to send a broken-apart, well used and unconditionally loved fifteen year old bag back to the company from which it came to see if they would indeed replace it with a new one. As I was writing about it however, I realized I wasn’t able to actually toss my history aside so easily.

So I’m sort of a sentimental person. I enjoy holding onto objects, trinkets, clothing, mix tapes, and the like which are accompanied by a fond memory. I’m not a hoarder. (Although my basement storage and boyfriend might want to have a chat with you regarding that statement.)

One thing I’ve held onto for years, 15 years to be exact, is a black L.L. Bean bag which I borrowed from a friend staked a claim of rightful ownership to it after having it in my daily possession after a year. You can see a picture of it below.

This bag has been with me for half of my life. It has seen, in no particular order… My first real relationship. The death of my best friend. All six of the cars I’ve owned. Hundreds of concerts and shows. Most of high school and all of college. Living in Europe. Hiking in the woods. Picking fresh lemons from trees in California. Various pets. Driving throughout the U.S. And so on and on and on.

I’d venture to say the one thing I’ve had in my life even more consistently and a few years longer than this bag is the heart valve I had put in me when I was thirteen. (And that, coincidentally, was borrowed from someone else also. Rightful ownership, however, is automatically assumed in my favor in this case.)

Originally, this blog was going to be about me sending this bag back to the land of L.L. Bean where it came from in exchange for a new one. Oh, have you not heard of L.L. Bean’s amazingly amazing return policy? Let me quote it for you:

Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.

The incredible part to their policy is that they actually stand by the statement. I’ve seen it in action before, although have never needed to return anything in my possession to them, until now. And yes, I know that they would exchange a fifteen year old bag, because they’re good like that.

I love the bag. I really, truly do. When the plastic attaching the strap to the body of the bag broke, I used a shoelace to make up for it.

When one of the two front clasps snapped off, I just simply used the other one to secure my belongings.

But now, that second clasp has also torn off. It was hanging on by a thin, wiggly strand of weathered and beaten down plastic for a bit. But it has finally lost its battle. And without the ability to actually close the bag, I just don’t know if it is truly functional anymore. Shipping it back and getting a refund to use towards a new bag seems like it could be a decent trade.

The pins and patches I’ve had on it over the years (of which I still have most of) are themselves just as much a reflection on the life I’ve lived over the past 14 years as the bag itself is.

From Social Distortion and Against All Authority to Kylie Minogue and Rilo Kiley and everything I’ve listened to in between and in addition to. Phases in music, beliefs, outspokenness and style all have been portrayed on the canvas of that front black flap.

And whenever I open up the bag, I’m greeted by the “radical lesbian feminist” sticker placed in the clear corner pocket. (I think that dates back to a college boyfriend if memory serves correct.)

The inside of the main compartment is splattered with red, orange and green. I remember at one point thinking the bag was an excellent way for me to transport cans of paint. Each little rip, burn, missing clasp or torn lining hold within them a story.

And as I construct this entry further, I’m finding myself to be more and more unsure about sending this bag out to pasture. I’m thinking perhaps I could just find a replacement buckle and see if I can do a little repair before finally throwing in the towel. Plus, I always thought the red shoelace gave the bag a little character. And I could just pass the whole thing off as me being green and saving the world from extra waste and excess garbage.

It’s not as if I need the money to purchase a new bag. I guess I’ll hang on to it after all. The experiment of seeing if whether or not the folks at L.L. Bean would indeed replace the bag after all these years would possibly have been interesting to follow to completion, but I’d rather not sacrifice a part of my past for it.

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One Response to “Excess Baggage.”

  1. sheila @ Elements May 16, 2011 at 11:22 #

    That’s amazing that you’ve had that bag for about half of your life! It seems like the bag has taken on something more important than carrying whatever contents need to be transported around by you. The bag also carries and transports part of your personality, as well as cherished memories and the history of your life.

    In addition, it also speaks in a visual way about what’s important and meaningful to you, and I think that’s significant. Your ideals, hopes, dreams, and experience can be voiced and passed onto others without you having to say a word, and there’s something very powerful about that.

    That’s you’ve patched it up so you can continue to use it also says something about who you are and what you value in life. Many people would have discarded or sent the bag back as soon as it broke and became worn out. But you patched that broken bag up, saw its worth and that it could continue to be useful.

    I think that’s great that you’re not sacrificing part of your history and hanging onto it. Even if one day you don’t continue to carry it around, it can still be used to hold something inside your home so it continues to be functional.

    I’m curious about the paint cans. Are you an artist?

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