An Ode to Black Bandana
The other day my car was broken into – almost $1000 of gear was taken in a quick swipe. Sleeping bags, backpacks, and other camp essentials were among the things taken. Oh, and two dope vintage TNF duffles from the late 80s. I was bummed, but I was surprised how unattached I was to the things taken. No biggie. Sh!t happens.
Then, today, I was preparing to go do some hiking and realized my bandana was in the hip belt pocket of my backpack was taken. My favorite bandana. The Black Bandana.
Originally purchased for ~fashion~ before the PCT, Bandana became my most used piece of gear, used on both of my thru-hikes. On day three of the PCT, it transformed into a knee brace, foreshadowing its shape-shifting future. From there, it served as coverage in the Mojave, a buff in the Sierra, a friend on Hat Creek Rim, and as an accessory in the PNW. Bandana covered wounds, dried electronics in storms, and even cleaned up crusty couscous remnants lining my Talenti jar. Often the only article of clothing to join me on alpine dips, Bandana was a pal. It was my most versatile piece of gear, strong and sure.
Earliest story with Bandana? One time I did a backflip on a work out trampoline to impress some friends, but I hit my head on the ceiling in the low-clearance garage. Who covered the blood? Bandana!
When I sat down to write this, I fully intended for satire, because who grieves a $.99 bandana? Silly. But in reflection, I’m uncomfortable knowing the person coming across Bandana in their bounty. Now the break-in feels personal and invasive. They stole an ebenezer from me.
I’d like to think Bandana has the ability to interrupt the new owner’s day like it used to mine; delicately reminding the owner to push limits, press into humility, and experience joy in memory. I hope it punches with a “remember when?”, and can catapult the new owner into a sea of visceral flashbacks. A synesthetic web of touch and smell and everything else.
I’m sad to say goodbye to the only physical ride-along to my growth over the past two years, knowing it’s likely soon-to-be in the trash, alongside an emergency Clif bar and retired AAA batteries
Am I bummed about Bandana? Haha, yes. For sure. But I’m mostly encouraged and interested that something as simple as a subjectively disgusting bandana can uproot memory and shake self, grounding one deeper to present. Quite possibly, the Banana itself represents memory, collected and frayed and undervalued. I’m not too sure on this one. If you have any thoughts, hit me up.
Here’s to the creative lesson in it all, and here’s to the paradoxical value of the Black Bandana.
Also, plllease lock your doors.