Several weeks ago, my favorite fountain pen, the hearty Pilot Custom 823, rolled onto the floor. I was grateful the cap was secure and the nib had been protected in the fall. I picked it up breathing a sigh of relief, and placed it back into the pen holder in my bright blue The Superior Labor A5 Zip Organizer. My bright blue TSL A5 Zip Organizer, which I purchased directly from The Superior Labor during a sample sale, rivals my yellow TSL A5 Zip Organizer that I purchased from Baum-kitchen, as my favorite analogue tool. Both are exceptional, the only difference being the color of the exterior covers.
The next time I opened my blue organizer, I noticed a spot of black fountain pen ink on the natural leather interior. It was just a small spot, but it was perplexing as to how it had gotten there. My pen never leaked. I inspected the cap to see that it was secure. I checked the vacuum plunger that’s used to fill it with ink, as well, wiping my finger around it to see if I could find the leak. My finger came away clean. I tried to shrug it off. It was just a small spot of ink, after all.
But when I opened the organizer the next time, there was even more ink on the interior. This time on both sides of it. It was clear that the ink had to be coming from my fountain pen, and upon further inspection, I realized that the barrel of the pen had sustained a tiny, hairline crack in the fall. Heavy-hearted, I removed the broken fountain pen from my TSL A5 Zip Organizer, and after reading about how to remove ink from natural leather, tried cleaning it with alcohol, and then with leather cleaner. Both efforts removed none of the ink and only added to the discoloration of the leather. It was no use. The stains were there to stay, and though only slightly cracked, the pen was severely damaged.
I shared the news of my mishap on my Instagram account @trinasnotebook. The responses were great. Friends expressed condolences for my pen, which was really my greatest loss, because despite the discoloration, my organizer was still perfectly functional, and the pen was not. I tried to forget about the stains realizing that I’d need to accept them as part of the character of the organizer. It would take time, but I was prepared to do so.
Several days after that announcement, a member of my IG community sent me a sweet message. There had been two bright blue organizers sold during the TSL sample sale, and she’d purchased the other one. I’d known this from an exchange we’d previously had. She’d told me then that she didn’t really know if she’d actually use it because it really wasn’t the type of notebook cover she used. In that message, she expressed that she wanted to give her organizer to me and hoped that I would accept it. To say that I was stunned by this generous offer would be an understatement.
I didn’t know what to say because declining the offer of a gift is a difficult and delicate thing to do. The act of giving is so deeply kind that denying someone the opportunity to give is denying someone the chance to extend their kindness to you. I went back and forth, and in the end, I accepted her thoughtful and generous gift. I am now the owner of four, TSL A5 Zip Organizers
— two yellow and two blue. How I came to have four is an incredibly long story, which I will not tell because that is not the point of this story. The point of this story is giving and receiving.
Of the four TSL A5 Zip Organizers that I own, this one, my second bright blue, the one that was given to me, which is imperfect in its own way, is the most perfect and by far my favorite because of the sentiment attached to it. I honestly didn’t think I could love the organizer more than I already did because, for me, it is the perfect daily carry, holding my beloved fountain pen, notebook, other analogue tools, and wallet items. But I do love this one more because of the expression of kindness that is attached to it, which makes it so special. And, I hope that by accepting it graciously, I, in turn, did a good thing.
Now, the question is, What will I do with the other three organizers because they must meet their organizer destiny, and not languish in a drawer of my desk.