As border security in London dismantled my bag looking for drugs, they found another fun piece of contraband: my prized, five-inch hunting knife. I like to think that no one on the Eurostar train 9040 was going to f*ck with me. That was its last gift.
“You’re lucky they didn’t catch you with that out there,” a border agent points towards the rest of the station, “they would’ve arrested you. Knives are a little bit different here in the U.K.”
I momentarily got that heady rush of American bad-assness.
When I moved out of my parents’ house in 2001, I randomly grabbed things I thought would be useful. Among them, an old hunting knife my dad (seemingly) never used. It remained unused by me until 2005, when I first took it with me to Europe.
The original intention was self-defense: I was a young idiot who had never left the country. In my first hostel experience, in Ireland of all places, I slept with it under my pillow.
Those plights never materialized. What did materialize was uncut cheese and unopened bottles of wine. After the salt water destroyed my Leatherman, the hunting knife became my “go to.” Since it opened bottles of wine, I dare say that it kept my marriage together in 2005.
From that point, it had a special, easy-to-find place in every house. But it was on the road where it shined. On camping trips, the blade could cut potatoes for our dinners while the pommel could drive tent stakes. Though I’d long come to understand its pacifist nature, there was always something comforting about its menacing look.
There was no question it would come with me on the next European adventure. Seven years from its inaugural journey, I’d long since shined up the blade and learned how to actually sharpen a knife. But this time was different. This time, we were, apparently, traveling through sissy-land.
Into the rubbish it went: an intimidating compliment to the thorough search for what they thought was weed (why am I carrying loose-leaf tea? Who knows).
The nice baggage man let me keep the sheath. A final memento of its place in my travels.