Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The news:
No progress on the house.
JP is back and keeping very, very busy.
The kids are in the middle of a two week school holiday.

The anecdote:
A few weeks before school got out, Mallory's book bag gave up the ghost. It was in such tatters that we just threw it out and she started carrying an old one that had belonged to her big sister. but after a few days, that one broke, too.
I took it to the local shoe repair guy and he said he could have it fixed up in a couple of days.

In the meantime, Mal needed a way to carry her books. And not just any daypack would do. The kids have loads of books each day that are easily 30 lbs or more. The only pack I could find that was big enough was crushed up at the back of the attic crawl space. It was nothing fancy- just the most basic model and the blue nylon was dusty and stained.

In fact, it looked like it hadn't been washed since my last fieldwork back in 1991. I hadn't ever gotten rid of it for sentimental reasons- it was the backpack I'd bought for my first real work as an archaeologist. I carried it in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks as a young government archaeologist. I took it down to southern Peru as a graduate student . Then it kept me company as I did boring, run-of-the-mill survey work for a private archaeological firm in Illinois.
It even came with me to Europe when I started to work on my (never finished) doctorate.
It's a sad-looking item with a proud history.

I wasn't sure what Mallory would make of it. In fact I fully expected her to turn up her nose.

I explained that it was my old archaeology kit, assured her that she'd only have to carry it for a few days and then told her I'd wash it up good as new.
She grabbed the bag with what looked distinctly like a sparkle of interest in her eyes. She didn't even want it washed. (I guess the stains lent it authenticity?) Her books went in with room to spare and she happily went off to school.

Three days later, I proudly held out the clean, repaired back pack that had belonged to Tya. It's rather pretty- a sort of beige with red scrolls and flowers on it- and I was sure that Mal would be so pleased to get it back and get rid of the ancient, ratty blue pack.

"I like the blue one," she said
"It' so old and stained..." I began doubtfully.
"But it makes my books lighter on my back....and lighter in my head, too. It always makes me think of you!"

So, she's kept the old field pack and the fancy flowered bag is at the back of the closet.
That's my girl!

5 comments:

The Pliers said...

Damn! You made me cry.

I am so happy for both of you to think of her carrying your trusty old pack full of independence, purposefulness, and memories.

I am completely in the thrall of the lives of inanimate objects...

Ceci n'est pas un sac à dos..."

babzee said...

It isn't often that one of your posts brings tears to my eyes. What a beautiful, life-filled child!

Beth said...

I'd actually been unsure about writing this post. I wasn't convinced of my ability to convey the real essence of the moment.

I'm so very pleased that you both were touched by it!

oreneta said...

What an absolute DARling!!! The kids here have to carry ridiculous numbers of books too, it's a wonder they can get up again if they fall down.

Joy said...

My baby sisters have taken one or two of my old things, and cherished them as well. For my child to do so with something so beloved of mine would be truly wonderful...