I recently spent some time looking through a time capsule of sorts. I say “of sorts” because it’s a rather unintentional time capsule. It’s more like something from the past that’s been sitting in my closet, and I hadn’t really taken the time to go through it until now.
This time capsule takes the form of my college backpack.
I don’t remember how long I used this backpack, and I vaguely remember a different one I used before this one. But this is the one that I used to finish up my classes, earn my B.A. degree, and graduate Summa Cum Laude. This is the one that has had a spot in my closet since I “retired” it upon graduating in 2001.
Back then, my backpack had to be a sort of “survival kit.” For most of my college years, I didn’t use a car for my daily commute, so my backpack had to have everything I might need for the day -- books, coursework, Walkman (remember those?), money, Kleenex, food. Back then, I was out of the house for most of the day. I felt so far away from home, even though I was just “over the hill” at California State University Northridge.
I went through my backpack, checked all the zippered compartments (all empty), and fingered the key rings. One from Lake Arrowhead, one from Sea World. I looked at the buttons -- one featuring the Earth, a scuffed up “Just Do It” pin, one for Laguna Beach, another for Santa Barbara, one reminding me to “Practice Random Acts of Kindness.”
Inside my backpack, I found my notebook. Still with dividers and extra sheets of paper. And still with a written copy of my last semester’s schedule -- a Kinesiology class and two English classes.
Inside the notebook, I found my “feel good reminders.” A typed copy of Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman. A small credit-card-sized card with a “Follow Your Dream” poem on it. Pictures of my husband and I. A sticker-picture of my sister and I. A worn-out Webster’s Notebook Dictionary, something I remember using back in elementary school.
This backpack was a part of who I was then -- a college student trying to do it all (earn good grades, work, figure out marriage, plan for my career).
What I found inside my backpack, my notebook, is still a part of who I am now. A writer, a wife, a woman who needs occasional reassurances and feel-good messages.
Some things don’t change.