Really, more like why-the-hell? I know what this stuff is; the question is why do I save it?

Case in point: traveler’s patches. I unearthed them recently when refinishing an old piece of furniture. I bought them as a wandering exchange student. I remember seeing backpacks covered with patches, thinking how cool those people must have been. I wanted a future of never-ending travels, of patch-covered backpacks.

Truth is, I never sewed them onto any backpack. That summer I didn’t own one,  and I’ve long-since graduated to a wheelie suitcase. They never decorated any form of luggage, but I’ve saved them for decades, moving them from apartment to apartment. They’re small and shoved in a box, and every time I see them I think, “Maybe someday I’ll do something with them.”

That someday is today, and that something is to hurl them into the donation pile. I thought I’d take a picture to commemorate them. As I took photos, I realized a couple of things: (1) though I lived in Spain for a year, I never got a patch of Spain; and (2) the photo felt like so much braggadocio. “Look at me! Look at all the places I’ve been! I must be cool!” I think that’s why they never made it onto any of my luggage.

This photo instead: patches indistinguishable, since they’re soon to be gone. Passport in focus, with plenty of blank pages to represent adventures yet to come.


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