Sunday, June 10, 2007

just different.

As you may or may not know, I'm a girl who loves purses. Bags. All shapes and sizes, different colors for different ensembles. For all occasions. I'm all over it. I probably buy purses just about as often, if not sometimes more! (depending on the season), than shoes. Believe that!

There's always been something about a woman sifting through her purse that I have found I think, intriguing. Interesting. I have to watch it; if it's happening in front of me, I find I can't look away. What are they skrinkering around in there for? What will they come up with? My earliest memories of my infatuation with purse obsession go back to when I was a kid, sitting in church with my family or for school. I went to a Catholic grammar school up until 6th grade, uniforms! and knee socks all over the place. I remember going to church either during school, or on a weekend, and how excited I'd be for the collection time. Other than just for the good people watching in church, I would anxiously anticipate the collection because it meant for some good purse scenes going on, and that's what I loved.

I would watch as women, specifically I remember it being elderly women that I was really interested in, went through, shuffled around in the purse's inside hidden pockets. I was always so anxious to see what gem they might pull out in a quest to get to their money. A checkbook? Car keys? Red cakey lipstick? Maybe one of those rain, hair cap, things? You know the type, the ones that some older women wear when it's misty outside to cover up their just "set" hair? Anyway, this whole purse thing was a whole delight for me. It still is. It would offer me such a distraction. Make my imagination run wild wondering these women's stories. Take my mind away from another reading, or a song annoyingly sung by the choir, so out of tune. I loved this game.

Fittingly so, it's not surprising then, that almost 20 years later, I have this huge, strong, kind of freakish? affinity for purses and such. Having always been so interested in them, what you can fit in them, or hide, strategically, sneakily. This has been a long time thing for me. Admitting it is the first step, right?


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When I see my grandmother go through her purse, it's a different, not-wanting-to-look-away kind of feeling that occurs. Like back then, back in the church days when I was addicted to the whole purse scene, but now, different. Different because it's so close to home. I know this purse. Who it belongs to. It's story. It's no longer about imagining what this and that are for, where she lives and who she wakes up to every morning. It's what I already know about it all. What I know about her. Her story.

It's not a checkbook out of a red leather purse this time. It's not a set of keys from an embroidered clutch. Now it's a CVS receipt for a long list of prescriptions out of a Vera Bradley handbag. A grocery list to give to her daughter, since she's been a bit too weak lately to make it to the food store all on her own. It's several 'get well,' and 'thinking of you' cards that she's collected from the mailbox. Or a pretty scarf to wear on her head now that she's lost her hair.

It's a totally different set of items now. A completely different experience. Now, a not so fun at all type of feel to it all. This woman is no longer a stranger with no defined story, with a blank slate to life, with a story I can make up in my own mind and run with. It's a purse that represents so much more than just a silly handbag. It's a story, a life, of someone that I know and love.



It's a different feel now, this whole purse thing.

14 comments:

B said...

I love looking in people purses- with permission that is:)

you can tell a lot about a person, that's for sure. very personal in there.

I love the way you compare and relate to things. I am gonna go look through my mom's right now- it's been awhile! this time I ain't gonna steal cash either- I work now so it's all good.

great post:)

ARM said...

Wow. I love this post, Brookem. It gave me shivers and made me choke up a bit.

I like how you people watched by seeing women go through purses. It's so true how it can tell you a bit about them. How they are almost letting you see into who they are, but you know that they wouldn't like it if someone physically looked into their purse (like, I hate it if my husband is bored while we are at a restaurant and will peek into my purse - hands off, buddy!).

Again, excellent post chica!

rookie teacher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Airam said...

I never thought of it like that. But you're right ... other than being a fashion statement, a purse is something personal that can tell a story based on its contents.

Thank you for sharing this.

brookem said...

b- i like looking through my mom's too. i totally love this game.

arm- thank you girlie. isn't people watching one of the best things ever? i think so.

airam- i think it's funny to see what kind of purse people have too. like a coach? marshalls special? etc.

jeorg said...

i love finding things in my other purses that didn't make the transfer when i switched... i love finding those little things... movie tickets and such...

appletini said...

I carry everything in my purse :) The only problem is when I switch and forget to put something in my new purse. I really hate that!

Adam said...

there is a seattle startup that you should check out...
http://bagborroworsteal.com/

e.b. said...

that was a really sweet way to discuss your grandma. very well said.

brookem said...

jeorg- i do too. brings back memories, huh?

appletini- oh, i do so much of that. i have about four purses going right now, all from the past week. there's shit everywhere. cell phone in one, gum in another, two lipglosses here, FOOD SHOPPING list in another one. really it gets a spec out of control.

adam- ive heard of that site i think! are you trying to make me spend all of my hard earned $$???

eb- thank you so much.

egan said...

Huh, I never really looked at purses this way. Life stories and all. I think that's a great bit you point about your grandma. Thanks for sharing that and now it makes sense why my wife has such a tough time giving hers away when she's done with them. Watches are like purses for me.

ruby said...

Oh brookem...that's so sweet and so sad...

brookem said...

egan- see, heaps of your readers are women for a reason. purses are just hard to say goodbye to. watches, eh?

ruby- thank you..

The Exception said...

This was such a nice post. It is true, something like a purse can be so much more than an accessory. My grandmother had a red coin purse. No big deal, it held coins, but there was so much more to it - so many memories of when she would open it to pick through the change.

And my bag is not a purse, it is a backpack - and it does tell the story of my current life.