The Traveling of Material Objects

by Nic Olson

I often look at my things and think of where they’ve gone. Where they had been before they arrived at where they are now. The road they traveled to get here in ‘the now’. For example, my waterbottle. I once had a Nalgene bottle, red, the ones that give you cancer, alzheimers, cancer again, and an empty head for believing that crap. Anyways, Jeremy and I won a doubles tennis tournament in Yellowknife and with the gift certificate for an overpriced sporting goods store called Overlanders I bought a red Nalgene. It was one of the new ones with the unbreakable lid.

I took this from Yellowknife around the world with me twice. It had been to four countries with me, been through a lot of drops and throws, stickers added, stickers scratched off, a Swollen Members sticker that lasted forever and lots of dirty water held within its cancer emanating walls. Then one day at work I filled it with water and set it outside in the snowbank as a refrigerator. I retrieved it an hour later and it was 75% ice. I dropped it on the floor to shatter the ice and avail the water to my thirsty lips. The first drop didn’t do it, so I dropped it again. It broke. It cracked on the bottom and peed out water when I opened the lid, but didn’t pee out water when it was closed. I nursed it (or literally let it nurse me, as I sucked water from the open wound), and now it sits in my room as a trophy. A tribute to all the great waters I drank in the past two years. And I just can’t get rid of it. I think of all the Indian villages that thing has seen. Think of all the Canadian cities that bottle has driven through. Think of all the scars that it had collected through its years of service. That would be like throwing away a very transparent and hip-less girlfriend.
I also have this pair of underwear. You may have heard of them. The Lucky Reds. They came from Hong Kong at least two years ago from Jeremy. Jeremy, Kris and I all have a pair. Mine have traveled with me to six different countries, swam in two different oceans and won the Riders a Grey Cup. They have literally supported my business in the sweatiest Indian train, in the most uncomfortable floor I’ve slept on. And I think of all the amazing things they have done and all the amazing things they’ve seen. They are better than me and all they do is cup balls.
I have hundreds of items that I think about and realize how far they’ve traveled. How much they’ve done. A pen. A shirt. A hat. A backpack. These things that mean so much but are worth so little. Even to me, really. 
When I think about it, I realize how useless these things are. They hold memories that I can hold myself. These things, although they are amazing and well traveled, although they are that much better for seeing what I’ve seen, are worth nothing. Then it makes me think about the things I own that haven’t traveled anywhere. Things that sit in my parent’s house and never get moved but are so important. Things that have never seen the red dirt of another continent, or felt the humidity of somewhere not so far north. If my well traveled possessions are worth so little, then these things that are not well experienced are truly useless. Trash. These things that tickle me when I see them, but then callous me when I realize what they actually are. 
I have been around the world a bit. But I focus on the things I own that have traveled with me. I tell people of their travels and their adventures, but keep my own a secret. The things you own end up owning you.