It’s difficult to let loose a sidekick that followed you around the world. From Buenos Aires to Bangkok, it had been with me all the while. Like most things, it outlived its usefulness.
So I said farewell this morning to my MLB.com duffel bag.
The internet company gave each of its writers one. Some never used theirs; I used mine, though.
I dragged my duffel bag through airports, rushing to gates to beat the attendants who were trying to close them on me. I jammed my duffel bag into overhead compartments, wiggling it into spaces that were barely able to hold it.
Yet never did the duffel betray me.
Yes, whenever I checked it as baggage, I wondered how it would hold up. My worries on that front grew the older my duffel bag got. Over time, it frayed at the edges, and the sparkling gray color of its shell had dulled from harsh treatment of baggage handlers or from the weather extremes it battled.
I mean, Vegas in the summertime can melt rubber, and the fabric that made my duffel bag wasn’t material you mold tires from. Still, when I braved the Arctic-like chill of a Cleveland winter, my duffel bag was there. In hopscotching the U.S. from Seattle to Sarasota, my duffel bag was there.
When I took a group of college students on a soccer experience in Europe, I hauled my duffel bag with me. In visiting Prague and Panama City, Panama on separate occasions a few summers ago, I had my duffel bag in tow.
Its last road trip was to Cairo — Egypt, not Illinois — and it performed its duty. But … well, zippers stopped zipping smoothly, and plastic wheels that served as rollers wobbled like a 6-month-old taking his first steps. I thought it might be easier to push a Greyhound bus uphill than to drag this bag through another airport.
Still, I gave much consideration to the decision: throw it away or keep it? In the end, the only choice I had was of the Hobson variety.
A week after my return from Cairo, I headed to a Samsonite store to look at my options. I didn’t find what I was looking for. I wanted something as flexible, as versatile as a utility infielder. Samsonite had what I thought might work; it just didn’t have it in the store.
I returned home and jumped on the internet. I typed in “duffel bags,” and I had more options than I imagined. From Nike to L.L. Bean, I could find a duffel at price points high and low, and I had no problems finding a duffel bag that looked good, one worthy of replacing the MLB.com bag that had lasted me two decades.
When it arrived two weeks ago — yes, it is a Samsonite — I hesitated to throw away my old bag. Call me a rank sentimentalist if you will. I accept the label willingly. But who let’s go of an old friend easily?
I woke this morning, did some housecleaning and spotted the old duffel bag in a closet. I pulled it out, weighed afresh what to do. I decided to let it go. I took a photo and carried it to the garbage bin.
I then closed the lid on 20 years of memories.