Well, Briefcase, we’ve had a good run.
I bought you back in 2002, when Unca’ Dub’ya sent us all checks in the mail in order to stimulate the flailing economy. No, the first time. Remember? When no one spent the $300 he sent, because, dude, it’s only $300? Yeah, that time. Well, I was one of the few who actually did their duty to the American marketplace by going to my local shopping mall and buying a briefcase from Wilson’s Leather. Why? Because I was trying to be a writer and writers need a briefcase, right? So I bought a $225 (plus tax) briefcase to help myself feel like a real writer. What’s the old saying, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”?
As I set out to write the next Great American Novel, you were by my side, Briefcase. I carried notebooks filled with scribbled notes, ideas, and musings, all of which were sure to net me at least two, maybe three, Pulitzers. I carried handfuls of pens, because you never know when inspiration would strike, and the last thing you wanted was to be left without any ink. It was not unusual for me to carry the first five to seven pages of my Great American Novel, printed out, covered in red marks from top to bottom, as I honed my words to be as sharp as steel. Unfortunately, more often than not, I never got past those first five to seven pages because I spent so much time honing that I’d forget to actually, you know, write more. Later, I’d carry another five to seven pages of a different story, because I’d abandoned that first project to focus on this new one that was “a lot better” than the last. But I still felt like a writer because I carried you.
Even when I went back to school in the Spring of 2002, going for my English degree because that’s what writers do, you were by my side. You hefted my heavy tomes of Medieval Literature, my copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, and all those Spanish textbooks that were such a pesado en mi culo. Without you I would have never received by diploma, or my $30,000 in crippling student debt.
That brings us to about 2006. You’re still looking pretty good, I must say. I could have looked better, to be honest. A few scrapes here, a couple of worn corners there, not to mention our cat Peekaboo had found that scratching your hard, leathery exterior felt nice, leaving your facade scarred like the mug of that guy who played Jake Fratelli in Goonies. You, my friend, are starting to have “character.” I, on the other hand, had just let myself go.
After graduation was a dark time for us, Briefcase. I struggled with what I wanted to be when I grew up. Did I want to keep going down the path of secure paychecks, good benefits, and interesting work in GIS? Or did I want to throw caution to the wind and try my hand as a writer, living freelance check to freelance check, spending hours and hours in coffee shops to use the free wifi, while hoping, praying that neither my wife nor I would ever so much as catch a cold, because, damn, insurance is expensive? Well, you know me, Briefcase; I went the boring, traditional, conservative, “mature” route, and did both.
Yes, 2008 was when I finally gave up trying to become the Voice of My Generation and opted to become a cartographer who occasionally wrote about Yo Gabba Gabba, video games, and sometimes minor historical figures that no one’s ever heard of before. I became…a blogger.
So I dusted you off, Briefcase, like an old gunslinger coming out of retirement for one last score, strapping on his six guns before riding off into the sunset. For a while you still carried those old pages from my unfinished novels, screenplays, and my one-act, one-man Broadway show, Memories of Me (Not affiliated with the 1988 film starring Billy Crystal and directed by Henry “The Fonz” Winkler) (It was a working title…). But by my second year of blogging, I began to realize that those things were just taking up valuable space where my laptop, mouse, and power cord could go instead. Besides, those dreams were gone now. And that’s ok. Because I came to realize that maybe I was better suited to write what are essentially Wikipedia posts that someone pays me for, than to become the next Kerouac, the next David Foster Wallace, or the next “best-selling author, Snookie.” After all, “Success is success is success.”, is something that sounds like Kurt Vonneget might have said once in a mythical commencement speech, but I can’t verify that at all.
As my writing career accelerated, you began to deteriorate in direct proportion. Maybe the laptop has been too heavy, adding unneeded stress to your mass-produced, plastic buckles, rings, rivets, and stitching. Maybe I slung you around too much. Maybe I shouldn’t have tossed you into the passenger’s seat of my car so often. But you were always there for me, Briefcase. Even when I wasn’t working on an article, I brought you to the office because you carried my thumb drive of ideas, my Kindle of knowledge, and my mini-USB cord of electricity so I could listen to podcasts all day without my phone’s battery running down. Sometimes you served virtually no purpose at all, other than as a leather-bound security blanket.
And so it is with great sorrow that yesterday, January 28, 2013, you have sustained a life-threatening injury. No, the split in your seam from where the should strap puts undue stress, did not finally give. The metal strips that hold your form, which punched holes in your delicate lining long ago, did not burst through your leathery hide like a phallic alien embryo out of John Hurt’s chest. It was, in fact, your handle that broke. A plastic clasp that somehow held on for over 10 years, had finally had all it could take. The break has left the other side of the handle useless, vestigial, and dangling like a leech from a young Wil Wheaton’s nether regions.
So, my friend, my longtime companion, my life partner, I’m afraid we will soon have to go our separate ways. Maybe not today…maybe not tomorrow…but soon, and for the rest of my life. You’ve been a good bag, Briefcase, but, quite frankly, without a working handle, well, you’re just no good for me. Your shoulder strap has always been like razor wire to my shoulder, cutting deep and wounding my very soul. Your popped seams, your broken bones, your torn skin…sure, there’s character there, but, well, character doesn’t carry my laptop, son. But, for old time’s sake, we’ll stick together for just a little while longer. Maybe we have a few more good mental_floss, Mashable, and Top Hat Sasquatch articles in us. Maybe you’ll see me through the end of the production of The Dim. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll last until December, when I have to spend some money on something to offset even a little bit of my freelance income for the year. Until then, old friend, old pal, old leathery you, we’ll stick together through thick and thin. I swear.
Plus, the replacement briefcase I want from Saddleback Leather, complete with a 100-year warranty, is going to cost me close to $500. And, well, I don’t have that kind of money just yet. I started a SmartyPig account for it, though, so hopefully I can get it soon. But, my God, will you look at that thing; it’s a work of art, ain’t it? I mean, don’t get me wrong, Briefcase, you’re…you know…nice…and…and you have a great personality, but…
Anyway, until I can afford to replace you with a newer, shinier briefcase that I’ll be able to pass down to my grandchildren instead of feeling lucky to have gotten 10 years out of like some briefcases I know, we shall have our last hurrah, my dear, handle-less, broken-ass Briefcase.
We shall have our last hurrah…