I’m a single guy in my early thirties. I’ve got what I consider to be the most loyal friends in the world, and they’ve convinced some incredible people to meet them at the end of the aisle. Bachelor parties and weddings have become the soundtrack to my latter youth, my passport to parts of the country I’ve waited a lifetime to see, and the font of so many stories that I will never be able to adequately convey here, or anywhere else. If I have a great talent it is realizing a moment when it’s happening, before it becomes one of those frosted-over memories that can yield wan smiles and somber regret. The girl you didn’t kiss. The language you never learned. The trip you never took.
Every bachelor, if he’s fortunate, has friends who marry great people. And that means traveling. To big cities and to the heartland. To weddings, and bachelor parties, and all of the other places that life takes you when you’re in a position like mine. And when those trips come, you need a dependable bag. It all seems melodramatic to write. Luggage, after all, is something designed to carry your things while you’re worried about living life. It’s not half as important as the people that you’re traveling to meet. But it is with you for those moments. And if you’re as lucky as I am, it joins you in some incredible places.
When I bought my Cavalier III duffel bag in 2014, I assumed it would be useful for a handful of upcoming weddings. I was on a kick of “buying less but buying better,” so I stretched my budget for something that I knew would last.
I assumed that the bag would accompany me to Washington, D.C. I suspected that I would haul it to the Big Apple. I didn’t realize that it would be there when I saw Billy Joel play my favorite song in the Garden, or that—after a date to see him in my hometown show didn’t work out—it joined me on the road, alone, to see The Boss in Kentucky. My Ghurka debuted on a bachelor party in the Arizona desert, it was with me as I reveled on Bourbon Street under the gaze of a hurricane, and—believe it or not—it played a bit part in one of my friend's redacted Vegas stories that you can’t fully share but never completely forget. It was in the back seat when I sped down the Pacific Coast Highway in an American muscle car, and it was crammed in the trunk of a tiny station wagon when I persuaded two of my closest friends to join me on a trip around Iceland’s Ring Road. When it was time for a college reunion, my Ghurka carried the bookstore purchases harkening back to some of my best days, and when it was time for some last minute trips to golf tournaments, it was the first thing I reached for as I grabbed a few things and slammed the door behind me.
My Ghurka will never be the thing that I remember about these trips. It won’t match the sights that I’ve seen, the people I’ve met, the friends that have taught me so much, or the goals that these trips have helped to cultivate. But it was there for each of them. And as someone who is always looking for that elegant theory that explains it all, that’s no small thing.
I don’t travel much for work, so when I pull my Cavalier III off the shelf, it likely means that I’m going somewhere fun. Years after this bachelor life gives way to the great thing that I know will come next, I look forward to passing my Ghurka to my own child, along with the admonition that people are always more important than things. But that if you are wise enough to invest in the right things, it can enhance the type of experiences that will define a decade and last a lifetime.