You may have detected in that last post a reference to a "daypack," which I was wearing as I floundered down and up, respectively, the two steepest outdoor staircases along the Connecticut shoreline. Look it up!
(Don't look it up.)
You might be skeptical, thinking I sound more like a shoulderbag man. And until last week, you'd have been right. It's true that I've segued to the backpack lifestyle, and I'm struggling with it. I was raised to think that personal crapsacs were the business of one shoulder, and anyone who wore a pack over both shoulders was a gearhead doofus, or president of the AV Club. Cool people slung their belongings just so, as if to say sure, I've got homework. But when I get in the door, I will slough off my burden with a casual shrug. Tilt my shoulders 2 degrees downward, and BAM. I am unfettered. The whole one-shoulder backpack look? I invented that. It's trademarked. Look it up!
(Don't look that up, either.)
Look, the point is I was very comfortable with the messenger bag look. I got it from my local NPR station as a prize during a pledge drive, so it made me look cool and socially conscious. But then the pains started, the ones that set up base camp in my lower back and began to dig tunnels for their new transit system. I began slinging my bag over my head, so it hung straight back. I looked like a bike messenger, albeit with very unchiseled calves. But the pains wouldn't leave, and it became apparent that I had to adjust my portage strategy, lest I doom myself to walking the rest of my life on a tilt, lunging side to side like the confused oldsters who barge ahead of you in the deli line and then stare into space for 20 minutes.
I wanted to try out the Backpack Way, so I'm using an old babypack thing I bought at Babies R Us a few years back. It has about 2 billion compartments, many of which are of sealable, odorproof plastic. But it's also large and rather boxy, which is why we never really used it in the first place. Because of this, the transitioning is not going well, mainly because I can't sidle. Sidling is crucial for New Yorkers, who spent the lion's share of their commutes working their way through narrow spaces and around the Slow People--the texters, the tourists, the clueless, the change diggers, the guy with his nose buried in "MILF Hunters' Weekly." A few times I've tried to get past such people, still unaware of the two-cubic-foot ham strapped to my back, and I've collided with two support poles, a bulletin board, a mailbox, and three dumpsters. And those are only the inanimates. I keep thinking one of these days I'll make a sharp turn on the subway platform and send some poor soul face-first onto the tracks. I don't think I'm insured for that.
In sum, my back is happy, but my teenage self is mortified. And anyone else who sees me coming has a good chance of being killed. Just another of life's tedious compromises, I guess.