I’d like to tell you my therapist never had any Backpack Words for me.
There was nothing worth stuffing into my backpack like those pamphlets with smiling children on the covers in waiting rooms.
I’d like to tell you those four months I spent carting my baggage up two flights of stairs wasn’t worth it. Because I know you are looking for an excuse. I know we are all looking for an excuse.
If I had it my way, I’d tell you none of it stuck with me. But something did.
Something small and measly and terrifyingly accurate, to be honest.
She said Happy People spread themselves out, so that when one puzzle piece falls out from underneath them, they can leapfrog onto a new one.
She didn’t want me making any one thing my world. And at the time, that upset me. Even now, that’s hard to swallow.
If you tell a passionate girl she’s going to have to pull the blinders off and ease her grip on the reins, she’s going to tug harder. Look closer. Press the mute button.
She’s not going to want someone challenging her. Who does?
That girl is still inside me. She’s not squeezing reigns so much anymore as learning to master juggling and backpacks and feeling heavy & light.
She is learning to love everything she loves, but always more than One Thing.
She isn’t spreading thin so much as widening a road, paved with the words in her backpack.
You’ll find her there, Out There, in that space of land nobody dares walk. The space we’ve given up one. She carries her backpack full of words, each a necessary foundation.
She walks in the center of two yellow lines—between too much baggage and cutting ties with everyone, everything.
And she is waiting for you to meet her halfway at a rest stop in Topeka. At a gas station in St. Louis.
She will start here, with the words her therapist gave her. And you will start there, with the ones your Mama tucked next to your peanut butter & jelly sandwich.
And in the middle, when you meet, you can share a booth in a diner off the dirt road. You can pull out your words, set them on the counter, and she hers.
You’ll keep what you need, toss what you don’t, and swap what you’re desperate to borrow right now. Until you meet again. Under different circumstances with different backpacks.
What are your backpack words?