Disclaimer: Just borrowed, briefly.
The first chance he got, he had always unpacked. It was his usual method of dealing with the multiple moves of his childhood. He did it because it gave him the illusion of permanence, howeverso often that illusion had been shattered. More importantly, it had shown him what he still had. Move to move, until he was old enough to insist on warning and his ability to pack for himself, and sometimes even after that, his belongings underwent great change.
Unpacking showed him which clothes he still had, and which toys, which books and artifacts and shoes. Complaints sometimes brought replacements, but never a recovery of the original item, even if it was a beloved toy or favorite t-shirt that was missing.
As he grew older, he began to carry a backpack. The first one was little enough, but he quickly moved on to a full-sized pack. He seldom went anywhere, for any length of time, without it. In it, he carried what he could not bear to lose.
His mother was harsh in her criticism of his attachment to things, but as he allowed her to continue her tyranny over the majority of his belongings, move to move, she finally "let it go." He kept books, toys, a change of clothes, and whatever money he had tucked carefully inside. As he grew older, the contents changed. More books replaced toys, a laptop was added, and granola bars and travel-sized toiletries found their way in. He kept his Burton book in the bag and his personal journals.
His newest pack was special because of all the compartments it had. No one, not Naomi and not Jim, knew what was in the bag. They might catch glimpses of the main compartments, but the smaller zippered pockets were never opened where others could see. In those pockets, he kept mementos of happier times and places: ticket stubs from big games hed attended and the few photographs he had of almost fathers, girls whod mattered, and boys or young men who might have been best friends, if his mother had ever allowed them to settle and settle down. These days, he carried a picture of Jim in there, wondering if Jim was the real thing or just one more in the long line of "wasnt meant to be." Once, he thought hed known the answer to that one.
Now, he carried the bag.