I admit it. Guys have us beat in the travel light department. Wallet? Check. Money? Credit card? Check. Ask me if I’ve ever left the house with only a wallet in tow and you’d get a resounding heck, no. I don’t even take a walk without phone, tissues, reading glasses (just in case) and whatever else might make me emergency ready. So, when it comes to my purse, I may be just a wee bit over prepared.
“You always got to be prepared but you never know for what.” Bob Dylan
I don’t have a huge bag; it’s just methodically packed. Why do you think I bought one with so many handy zippered compartments? Okay, well, partly because the color was awesome but all those little pockets sold it. As often as I try to pare down, it seems to fill up without my permission.
A woman’s bag is a puzzle. Pieced together, each item reveals her personality. Toting only bare necessities might nail you as a no-nonsense kinda girl who keeps her car spotless, desk organized and house neat as a pin. There’s obviously never any expired yogurts in your fridge. One of my role models fits that bill exactly, carrying only what fits in the palm of her hand. When I grow up, I’m going to be just like her.
Then there is the gal who stashes everything but her bedroom in her larger than life bag. Shoes, every receipt from the last two months, a Tide stick, a mini medicine cabinet, nail polish and enough makeup to rival a cosmetic counter. If she happens to be a mom, add diapers, baby wipes, baby Tylenol and all things sticky to the traveling bottomless pit of ‘stuff’. This prepared woman’s bag, which gets larger with each replacement, becomes an alternate dimension, like stepping through the door of the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe. But she’s ready for anything. She’s just not going anywhere fast.
Handbags speak louder than words.
True to my Libra need for balance, I hover in the middle. Most of my bag’s contents make perfect sense, at least to me. Why wouldn’t I need two pair of glasses – for sun and reading? Wallet, phone, checkbook (yes, on occasion you need to write a check, right?), tissues, pens, comb, Purell, keys (complete with furry pompoms) and business cards. Then I veer off into kooky with a few herbal tea bags, some supplements I never leave home without, a phone charger, 3 or 4 (or more) makeup basics and on any given day, snacks for grandkids; nuts for grandma.
Maybe it’s my Catholic school training about “a cluttered purse is a cluttered mind’ but at the end of the day, I try to weed through the detritus. I pitch an occasional string cheese wrapper, unused coupons and completed to-do-lists. I reassure myself that I’m not paranoid; just prepared. I could stuff things in an even smaller bag – but why?
“Life is unpredictable. Always be prepared for the best and the worst.”
After my husband died, his own wallet took on a priceless mystique of its own. Contrasting to his always perfect, upscale shirts, to say his wallet was well worn, would be an understatement. Odd how it first felt it sadly wrong to pick through his wallet, as I pulled out a few old receipts, a ticket stub from a movie we had seen, his library card, and credit cards. Beneath yellowing acetate sleeves, were pictures of us, our kids and grands. The fact that those pictures lived in his wallet said everything.
Look in my purse, she said. You will find it, she said.
Centuries from now, if archaeologists discovered these carryalls of ours, could they decipher who we are? Maybe they’d look at each as a snapshot of who we are, what we cared about. They’d wonder about our quirks, worries and priorities. Our bags can reveal our age, the roles we play in our lives and what we care about. Designer bag or knockoff? Hippy fringe or bold flowered? Big or small, canvas or leather, it isn’t the bag’s pedigree. It’s the enigma of the one who carries it.
Maybe it’s my age; maybe it’s a sense of immediacy but these days I’m trying to streamline, think smaller. The contents of my bag may not always concur with my thinking but they’re on my list. If the eyes are the window of the soul, your bag must at least be a snapshot of your mind and personality. We are each as different as the wallets and bags the carry. Whether our’s are as full and complex as a carryon or as neat and spare as a cell phone case, they fit our needs and express our personality. Whether you’re the overachiever of every ‘be prepared’ Brownie badge or unsure about what the weather so you bring both boots and sunscreen — you’re right.
Personally, I’ve always wondered — what the heck DOES Queen Elizabeth carry in that bag she’s lugged around on her arm for the past 50 years?
What is YOUR purse-onality?