I was reading an article the other day in The New Yorker by the author Jonathan Franzen about a trip he took to a remote island off the coast of South America. As with many New Yorker articles, it was a little bit long and rambling, but the one thing that stuck out to me personally was when he mentioned going through a trying day and then finally feeling happy when he curled up at night in the sleeping bag he’d had since high school. Up until last summer, I also had the same sleeping bag that I'd had since high school. Actually, I remember when my dad first bought it for me at a sporting goods shop back in what was probably the sixth grade. This bag was perfect in every way; powder blue with the perfect loft, the bag was warm and light and served me well over the years on countless trips throughout the West. Then I went on a camping trip in Oregon last July. While I was off hiking with some friends, our car was broken into. The thieves made off with my camera, my clothes, wallet, cash, credit cards, drivers license, cell phone, electric razor, two backpacks, my favorite hat, and sadly, my perfect sleeping bag. I can never go out and buy another “sleeping bag that I’ve had since high school.” I could get the nicest, most expensive bag on the planet, but it still wouldn’t have that personal history. And what did the thief do with it? Probably tossed it in the garbage.
I did go out and buy another bag. I didn't want to spend the money on a down bag this time, so I just got a cheap one to hold me over. This is all apropos as I am heading off tomorrow for a few days camping in the desert at Joshua Tree National Park. Unfortunately there's no sense crying over spilled milk or stolen sleeping bags. The bottom line is, tomorrow night I'll be curled up under the desert sky, and though my bag may be different, the stars will be the same.