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Last year, when I wasn’t as close to 40, I bought a satchel for my writing travels. Gray as a morning dove, it offered pockets for my laptop, manuscript and cell phone. It was young, beautiful and perfect.

The first strap broke in the Philly airport after enduring 6 hours of being overstuffed with books and that extra outfit for “just in case.” My blue travel purse was also inside–the one that didn’t have to be big enough to fit wipes, snacks and a good sized collection of Minion bandaids.

Thankfully, I had packed duct tape in case my Leeloo Dallas suspenders had an accident (because a writers conference for speculative fiction writers must have cosplay).satchel

By the time the strap on my blue purse broke, I was running on a lot of adrenaline and little sleep, so I don’t remember if it was during Tosca Lee’s or Thomas Locke’s class but I didn’t stress it too much–the purse was about a decade old.

It was when a second strap on my newer satchel broke that I began to look around me…was it during the paranormal panel?

What does this mean?

I laid the irreparable blue purse to rest back in the Villanova dorm room, then grabbed the bright orange duct tape and reinforced all four straps of my satchel. I figured I should be thankful for the duct tape than pout over the out-of-place patches of my dove-gray beauty.

Now that I’m home (a few breaths from 40) and shopping for a heavy duty yet attractive bag, I’m staring at Oksana Chusovitina on the TV screen. I see her solid form, her poise and most of all–the lack of fear in her eyes. She’s a 41-year-old Olympic Gymnast.

Wow. I smile and realize, of course–She’s duct tape.

She’s the sturdy bridge between the young and old, standing in front of the world and reminding us to quit underestimating ourselves. We may feel out of place, but like those of us who immerse ourselves in speculative thought, she simply asked, “What if?”

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