Bag Lady

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I was 15 when I got my first purse.  It had a long strap that allowed it to hang at my waist.  It looked like something a hippie, flower child would have.  My grandmother bought for my trip to California.  A small wallet held my new driver’s license, a card with emergency numbers and $10.00 emergency money.  My passage into womanhood had begun.

As a young wife beginning my working career, I made the switch to more grown up and conservative purse.  It held a wallet along with a brush, lipstick and my checkbook.  As I added children to my life, my purse became much larger. Style was not important.  Cheap vinyl and many pockets were all that mattered.  It held the basics and crackers, a small bag of Cheerios, Kleenex, band aids, and an assortment of small toys.    I always had paper and pen to entertain the kids.  The onset of panic attacks in my life added a bottle of Valium to the mix.

As my life became complicated and I slipped into addiction, my choice of purses changed as well.  I needed much larger bags now.  Style wasn’t as important as functionality.  The wallet held the usual items as well as rolling papers. Mini bottles of booze along with cigarettes and a lighter were required items.  Breathe mints, eye drops, bottles of pills, and spare deodorant were needed items.  Organization was lost and things were thrown into the bag without thought.

After sobriety, life changed along with my purse.  I still preferred larger bags with lots of pockets.  Over time, I became more courageous and chose vibrant colors and designs.   Now the more essential items were my meeting schedules, antacids, and candy.  My wallet once again contained money, a checkbook, pictures, and credit cards.

Today I carry a smaller satchel type bag.  I have a huge wallet that holds all the basics along with 20 key cards for discounts stores.   The wallet comes with a detachable strap so I can carry it alone.  A pill box is a necessary addition.  One of the most important things in a purse is an outside pouch for my cell phone.   Inside the purse is a phone charger, extra hidden car keys car, a small notebook to capture ideas for writing and a variety of pens.  Since I am a college student now, I also carry a huge backpack/book bag .

I wonder what my purses will be like in the coming years.  I am getting older and I am sure the changes in my life will bring changes in my purse and the treasures inside.  I imagine I will always own a purse even if I don’t get out much.   It holds so many things that are important in my life.   They say that to dream about a purse represents secrets, desires and thoughts that are being closely held and guarded.  It symbolizes your identity and sense of self.   You know, I think that might just be true.


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27 responses

  1. I like how purses symbolize you at the moment. I went from purse hatred to smalk backpacks, a raggamuffin look for my angry college days, to a minimalist purse as I started my life. Finally this past Christmas….when my son turned two, hubby bought me my first mom purse. I griped and glared at it and…a week later, moved in, happy as a clam. But whats next after mom purse?

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    1. You are now the proud owner of the “Mary Poppins” bag. You can dig and find almost anything. In my life I am now at the Writer purse stage. I have pens, small notebooks, and a little camera in case I get an inspiration for a blog or story. Good luck as you go forward.

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  2. Cathy, I really connected with your post, so amazing. I had not thought about the changing shape and functions our purses serve and looking back so totally agree. Yes our purses do define where we are in our lives and what it is filled with and what we fill our purses with!

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    1. Thank Marilyn. I could have written a complete short story around it. After I started writing I had to cut a lot to get to 500 words.

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  3. My 11-year-old bought her first purse a few months ago. It made me think back to the ones I had at her age. I can still picture them.

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    1. My friends daughter bought her own purse recently and she is 9. Lol

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  4. What an outstanding job of using the contents of your purse to reveal what was happening in your life. Excellent example of “show not tell.”

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  5. i love everything about this. I hate to change purses…it seems like such an undertaking. Yes I know exactly what that says about me too. 🙂

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    1. I love to buy new purses but I always have a challenge changing them out. It seems there is always something left over. 🙂

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  6. This is so great, and now it has me thinking about my purses over the years, and what they, and their contents, say about the difference stages of my life.

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  7. Isn’t it funny how some purses characterize who we are during a certain period? Mine are always large, and I always carry a book.

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  8. I am such a sucker for a new purse and yet can’t really decide if it is functional until I’ve lived with it a while. I have made many costly mistakes.

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  9. I love putting your life into phases by the bag you are carrying. It made me think back and do the same. Thanks for sharing 🙂

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  10. I love how you use purses as an analogy for the different stages of your life. Great post!

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    1. Thanks so much

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  11. I lose purses. I carry a wallet and my keys and if my kids want stuff, I’m dreadful about making them carry it myself!! I agree with Clean Slate above – this is a really cool way to show who you were at several discrete times in your life.

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    1. Thanks. I feel lost without my purse. Lol.

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  12. This is such a creative way to teach about your life! For myself, I’ve never carried a purse. I don’t like worrying about losing it or getting it stolen. On vacations, I usually put a few things in a small camera bag (that I worry about constantly).

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    1. I wish I could get away from having one but I am hooked!!

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  13. Amazing, how those vessels reflect our lives so so truly. 🙂

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  14. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece! It is amazing how much our choice of bag can say about our lives at that point in time.
    Great story, Cathy!!

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  15. Love how the purses show your evolution and growth. I can totally trace back my life on bags as well–and even things like lip gloss flavors. 🙂

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  16. Oh I love this! It was so interesting to read how the purses have reflected your life over the years. Thanks for sharing a piece of yourself with us.

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  17. This really made me pause. I’ve never thought about it, but my.purse style has changed throughout my.life based on my.lifestyle, too. Great post!

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  18. Such a beautiful and poignant portrayal of the changes we go through in life. Loved this.

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  19. I really like this. I never gave that much thought to my purses and how they’ve changed over time. Very interesting piece.

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  20. I used to have a recurring dream plot–different settings, but I always, always lost my purse or wallet. I finally googled “lost wallet in dreams.” That’s when I realized it was my lost self that was crying out. Oh.

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