A lot of people ask me how can I carry my boat everywhere I go. They ask me things like, isn’t it heavy? Don’t you feel silly with that boat on your back? What is wrong with you? And sometimes I ask myself the same thing. What is wrong with me?

Because airplanes can be an awful experience. My boat just doesn’t fit easily into overhead space. Asking the flight attendant for a seatbelt extension to strap my boat in safely can be a bit embarrassing, and paying for an extra seat can get quite pricey.

Taking my boat to parties is never much fun. Doorways aren’t as wide as they used to be and once I get my boat inside people tend to look at me differently, and bring up the boat in conversation. A lot of times people set their drinks on my boat, which I find inconsiderate, and people tend to resent my boat because it takes up extra couch space.

Job interviews can be really difficult. Employers always pay more attention to my boat than my resume. I try and wear ties that match my boat, to make it less conspicuous, but it never works. I feel lucky if I even make it past the receptionist. Boats just aren’t as fashionable as they used to be.

People say, look a boat isn’t very necessary now-a-days. How many times do you come to a river you need to cross? Isn’t that what bridges are for? That boat on your back looks heavy, don’t you get tired? A lot of these arguments, they’re pretty persuasive. I haven’t put the boat in water for quite some time.

People always suggest I trade my boat in for something else, stilts, or rollerskates, or snowshoes. I took a good hard look at the snowshoes once. But I kept my boat.

You know what, most days I don’t even notice it, but some days, it’s true, I can barely lift the thing. When I was younger it was easier to carry, and it doesn’t make sense that now, when I’m older, it can be so much harder to carry. You would think my muscles would be stronger by now, but the truth is I’m weak. I’m still scrawny. Most of the time I look pretty helpless and awkward getting my boat in and out of cabs, up and down escalators, and through revolving doors. You wouldn’t believe how much I hate revolving doors.

A lot of people feel sorry for me when they see me lugging my boat around. Sometimes they help me carry it, which is really quite nice, and I always appreciate it, but I get the feeling that most people, they really think my boat and I are both quite stupid.

Maybe I am stupid.

I’ll be honest, I look at my boat and I see the paint is faded. It’s scratched. It’s dented. It’s had holes punched in it that I’ve had to patch up. Sometimes I’m quite embarrassed to be seen carrying it wherever I go. Some days I do want to drop it. Some days I take it off my back, I put it on the ground, I kick it, I stare at it, I ask what good is it to me.

One time I came to shore and there were boats up and down the sand, abandoned, and left behind. I just knew some of those boats belonged to friends of mine. People smarter than me. I tried not to think and just put my boat on my back and kept on walking.

It’s gotten me through rough water, and a lot of those dents and scratches are there because of where I’ve decided to go. I try and remember the rocks we’ve bounced off, and how we’ve glided across serene lakes without causing barely a ripple.

When people ask why I take my boat with me wherever I go, I usually say that one day I’ll come to a vast, deep ocean and that the only way I’ll be able to cross it is in my boat. And I believe this to be true.

But the real reason I carry my boat is because I love it. I love the comforting weight of it across my shoulders. Every inch of its beaten and battered hull is beautiful to me.

Sometimes I carry it and sometimes it carries me.

My boat is my boat. And I would lug it to the top of Mt. McKinley if I had to.