naming (spacebags)

My freshman friends call me Spacebags Goat. Spacebags comes from something I posted on their class’ Facebook page last summer. These pages are where you can ask the important questions like “Who else likes taking picture?!??” and “Does it get cold in Seattle? That’s what I’ve heard :(” and “Am I the only one who LOVES country music here?” These questions bring people together around common interests (photography), common conversation topics (the weather, and Seattle’s lack thereof), and uncommon interests (country music). These questions also give returning students who really don’t belong on the page at all the chance to adopt the role of the mother/father/older sibling who has all of the answers. The sophomores—and some juniors—try to hype the freshman up for their first year away from home. I am the king of this. After months of not-school I was salivating for social interaction. The literal “natural thing to do” would have been to avoid Facebook like undercooked cafeteria meat and instead bloom where I was planted, whatever that means. Instead, I opted for the figuratively speaking “natural thing to do,” which was to join the incoming class’ Facebook group and snort up the their questions like an addict.

Wise sophomore me was eager to pass along his knowledge of adjusting to college life. This peaked in a video that I posted on the page. I was in the midst of packing for Seattle, so I made a video about packing. More specifically, I made a video about a very convenient tool that has simplified my packing life, allowing me to say goodbye to the frustration and anxiety that comes along with it. Let me introduce you to a close personal friend of mine: the Space Bag. Imagine a ziploc bag, but big enough to put a torso in—or seven bulky sweaters. You then suck the air out of it with a vacuum cleaner hose, and ta dah! you can fit everything you need to take with you into your luggage without a hassle. Obviously, I’m quite passionate about the Space Bag. I wanted to impart my secret to a new generation of SPUers, so I made them a 10 minute tutorial on how to properly use Space Bags. If any of them were weirded out by the sophomore obsessed with an As Seen on TV product, they had the decorum to keep on scrolling without saying so.

During my first several weeks back at SPU, one freshman girl insisted on calling me Space Bags. I hated it. My nickname was “the Squid.” The problem with “the Squid” was that I was the only one using it, so I was open to being branded something else—but not Space Bags. It sounded unflattering to me. In my mind it conjured the image of a cartoon woman, old and fat, wearing a hideous floral dress and dragging large plastic or burlap bags in her wake.

The Space Bag also became a symbol to me of my over-eagerness to make people like me at any expense. So, much to my chagrin, several sophomore friends who arrived at SPU early to train for Welcome Week (in which they herded groups of freshman to meals and activities) told me that my video was referenced by someone in the admissions staff who was giving a presentation to them about the ridiculous things the incoming freshman had been posting on their Facebook page. 1. What kind of presentation is that? 2. Do they not use fact checkers while compiling data to include in their analyses? 3. Did they not come to appreciate the genius of the Space Bag by the end of the video? Everything about that scenario is wrong. Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh on the presenter. He or she was doing more or less the same thing I was attempting to do in the video: trying to win over our audience with something easily grabbed off the internet while trying to prepare them for the impending onslaught of a new year at college.

The name stuck. I accepted it once I got to know the people who used the nickname. The image of the old cartoon woman dragging her bags was replaced with that of a wide-eyed college kid (still somewhat cartoony), approaching life like an explorer heading into an uncharted dreamworld in which everyone takes pictures, drizzling clouds canvas the sky, and all of your pants fit into one piece of luggage.

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