Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ode to my stuff

It appears there is a winner in the "deepest couch cushion ass-print" competition, and it is me. My lady is off contributing to the economy today, leaving me to burrow ever deeper into the left side of the sofa, safely widening my margin of victory by the minute. I guess I'm just on a roll with the winning.

In honor of my complete and total nonproductivity, I'd like to hearken back to a day when I didn't have it all, as I do now, and I contributed to the economy in a somewhat different, but no less critical, way: I actually consumed. It occurred to me just the other day that this summer was the tenth anniversary of two of the biggest purchases of my life. A car? My first computer? A fully-appointed S&M dungeon? No, no and not yet. Actually (and perhaps a bit sadly), I'm talking about my tent and my backpack, both far more durable than a car or a computer and much more portable than a dungeon.

Of course, my college education is (and will likely for some time remain) the most expensive thing I've ever paid for, my other valuable possessions being for the most part incredibly generous gifts. But since off the top of my head I can't even tell you where my diploma is, it seems less like a "thing" and more like a vague memory of a much more promising time.

No, I'd like to celebrate a time in my life when there were things - actual, physical objects - that I wanted and needed and couldn't imagine living without. Along with my tent and backpack, I'll also throw in the most ridiculous item I ever wasted a big stack of money on: my bike. I don't remember if it was '98 or '99 in which I finally finished the work-in-progress that became the one-off bicycle I still have today, but it was sometime during that overlapping school year that I purchased the hand-built custom frame from a guy in Washington. Who needs a hand-built custom bike frame, anyway? A college kid who thinks the money will always come easy, that's who.

Anyway, a friend and I spent the summer after our freshman year in college working in Yellowstone National Park cleaning hotel rooms for $6 an hour. I went there with a leaky K-Mart tent and a backpack that didn't survive the second outing of the season, both inherited. After cashing out my first two paychecks, we drove down to Jackson, WY and I spent over $400 on the tent and pack at Teton Mountaineering. Money well spent.

I suppose I spent similar amounts of cash in the ensuing years on things like a sleeping bag and a huge and hugely expensive pile of climbing gear, bought a piece at a time, but since I rounded out my collection of essential outdoor gear, I've lusted after very little in the way of material goods. It seemed back then that I had settled on some expensive hobbies as my yearly REI dividend check was anticipated and promptly redeemed. In the past seven or eight years, though, those two plastic storage boxes holding my gear haven't grown any heavier. All I want now is the time (and yes, the means) to take it out and enjoy it.

So here's to my tent and my backpack and my needlessly expensive bike, may I wring another decade's use out of each of you.

Thank you, tent, for not collapsing in those ice and snow storms and for all those bugs and rodents you kept off me while I slept. I hope you are not too jealous of the tarp I usually use instead of you. She may be lighter, but you're a whole lot sexier.

And thanks, backpack, for helping me carry all my shit. You get really uncomfortable sometimes, but I know it's not you; it's all that shit and all those miles.

For the record: No one needs a hand-built custom bike frame. No one.


surviving myself said...

Oh the tent is way sexier, I am turned on by the nylon blueness of it. Plus, tarps always crinkle, and that's not very hot.

Allie said...

Yes, that is a sexy little tent! And I totally understand that kind of love and admiration for a tent, although ours is still fairly new. I'm sure the love will just build over the years.

The Modern Gal said...

That's some great-looking gear. I've been sort of half-assedly been squirreling away money for a bike and better camping gear but things keep cropping up like a need for new shoes and tires. One day, one day ...

Jacob said...

Dude, your custom-built bike doesn't even have rear suspension.

And the tarp was much more useful than I ever would have thought. And I'm really ready to go hiking again. I just can't find a good weekend. My next big weekend is going to be in Atlanta. I'm going to the Thrashers opening game on a Friday and then have no plans. Want to plan something for Oct. 11, I'm possibly game.

Matt said...

Well it is a nice f*n tent.

I would have spelled it out...but I'm not sure yet if you curse.

So I wont.

Courtney said...

Hey, I slept in that tent just the other night! And I know you love that bike more than you love me. Admit it.

Aaron said...

What a stirring ode to tent and sack! And yes, that was intentional; childish laughter is encouraged.

Chris said...

Come on, Mickey, admit it: you're jealous of the 20-man super tent that we got for $30 at Wal-Mart.

OK, so maybe yours is more practical, and mine couldn't be taken backpacking if the hike were any longer than a quarter mile. But it's huge, and that's what counts, right?

Julie said...

My first big purchase was a camera. I worked all summer to buy my first Canon SLR. I sold it a couple years ago, having been sullied by the digital world. It's going to take me a lot longer to save up for the replacment. I never thought to take a picture of the camera so I could share it with the blogging world.