An Ode to My Cracked Nalgene Water Bottle
The bright orange bottle lies at my feet, water seeping steadily out onto the concrete. Just moments before, I had been sloshing through the rain on my way to the bus loop, dangling the precious vessel from the end of one finger. It slipped without warning. The corner hit the concrete with a hard crack, and a chunk of plastic snapped off. Small, seemingly inconsequential, but enough to make the bottle unusable.
I pick up the broken piece, cradling it in my hand. It is not the broken bottle that makes me sad, but the layers of stickers pasted to its sides. This fluorescent orange companion has been with me for over five years now. Running my hands over the bumpy layers of stickers, I reflect on each one.
I acquired this circular sticker October of First Year. Fresh and green at eighteen, I joined dozens of other residents in Cadboro Commons. We waited patiently in line for free milkshakes and earthquake facts – the Great British Columbia Shake Out was in full swing.
When an earthquake hits, should you crawl under heavy furniture? Stand in a doorway? Run outside and watch the open sky crumble down around you? This sticker settled my worries, and represents a time of questions, of learning.
Bigfoot has always been an important symbol for me. Ever since I saw Bumble in the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer animation, and Quatchi with his fluffy blue earmuffs in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, I’ve felt drawn to this curious gentle creature.
I found this sticker at Sasquatch Trading Ltd in downtown Victoria. This store, which sells everything from stuffed animals to t-shirts to posters, solidified Victoria as my new home.
A craft fair in Calgary, Christmas 2017. My parents bought me this little monster as a reminder of home, of our summers hiking in the Rocky Mountains and winters skiing in Kananaskis, our noses tipped pink with cold.
At the end of my Second Year, my mum visited from Calgary, and together we explored the Butchart Gardens. I picked this fella up in the gift shop. The gardens felt like renewal, growth, a celebration of another year of hard work complete.
I was so lucky to share a glimpse of life on the island with my mum. Of course, I was drawn to another Sasquatch sticker, this one with Victoria written across its torso.
This sticker joined my collection only a week before my bottle broke. It is a twenty sided die, one of the essential tools for table top role-playing games. It transports me back to first year, when I lived on campus in the Cluster neighborhood.
While Friday night raged on outside my window, I would sit in my room and Skype into my home Dungeons and Dragons campaign. This sticker, mailed to me by a friend in the campaign, represents connection. It’s a reminder that despite the fact I am far away from my friends in Calgary, they are by no means strangers. Our contact isn’t often in person, but is still memorable. Still important.
Perhaps my Nalgene broke because I was swinging it too wildly; a warning to take better care of my belongings. Perhaps it broke because I filled it with boiling tea after forgetting to bring my travel mug to Biblio-Café. Or perhaps, this was a blessing in disguise. A moment to pause, and reflect on each sticker, each one a moment in my life, and to feel grateful that I get to live a life of such richness.