Monday, January 28, 2008

Old Friends Gone

Many of you have heard me rail against messenger bags. Too big or too thick, too short or too long, too many pockets, too many fasteners, too expensive: I can never find one that works for me, and I can't shut up about it.

But it wasn't always that way. Once upon a time in Korea, Gooneechy and I were walking through the marketplace near our house in Seoul when we spied the perfect bag. More than one, actually (they had it in several colors). I grabbed a blue one and he grabbed a black one and we haggled the four-foot lady running the booth down to like ten or twelve bucks each.

Man, that was a bag. Behold:

It was exactly the right size! It had just the right number of compartments! It held everything I needed and not a thing more! It held it's shape without being lined with cardboard or foamcore! I could get things out of it without having to disentangle myself from its clutch or yank on unnecessary buckles, zippers, or snaps! It matched everything I owned!

But you never know how good you have it till you lose it. Well, I didn't exactly lose it, but I gave it to my last companion when I left for home, thinking that in America a great bag like that would be sold any-and-everywhere. Better bags, even. Boy was I wrong. I've never come anywhere close to finding a bag to replace Old Blue.

Last night I was reading through the journal I kept in Korea, and I found this:

It's the tag from my perfect bag, taped in there. Here's the back:

Oh, to be one of those people, the happy people from the white sands and the blue sea. Once I had it good. Real good.

I miss my friend.

That's not all I got out of reading my journal. I also got a bit of that crippling nostalgia that keeps things like journals in a deep closet. Just a bit—a honeydrop inkling of who I used to be and where and why. What struck me this time, though, reading it where I am and when, was how much I miss having a companion. A missionary is with their sidekick twenty-four hours a day, and about twenty-three of those hours are spent concentrating on the same thing. You never have to rely on a single opinion or point of view, and you are never ever lonely. Being a missionary, you not only always know what you're doing and why; you know who's doing it with you.1 I miss my friends.

1In mine and nostalgia's defense, I realize that there are drawbacks to that arrangement, that it isn't all good times and ice cream, but you know, I always felt the benefits way outweighed the difficulties. I got along easily and naturally with everyone of my companions except one (whom I liked just fine but who hated me for a reason I could never figure out).


Elisa said...

Remember how I thought you were Jason's sidekick? The Robin to his Batman? Those were the days...

The Shark said...

Sounds to me like this is no more than a good excuse to make a trip to Seoul. You with me?

Justin, Megan, and Molly said...

Hey! It's Gooneechy and I just wanted to agree with Grover's comments on the perfect bag. Thanks for the memory of my long gone, well used bag.