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    The Bag Lady

    This story doesn’t have an official ending, but it does have a beginning.

    1999. The end of eighth grade. A popular Kate Spade handbag sparked my attention. Was it called the bucket bag? Possibly. You all know which bag I’m talking about.

    Growing up and to this day, my mom spoiled me.  But not really with things. That was just “stuff” to us.  And at the end of the day, no one wants clutter. Stuff causes clutter. But that’s another thought- for another day. She spoiled me with love, attention, consistent instilling of good values, and of course, important lifelong learnings- such as the importance of having appreciation and respect for your “stuff.” Be it something expensive or inexpensive- if you value it, take care of it.  If you know me now and if you knew me then, you know I listened to my mom.

    So naturally, when she bought me my first expensive purse, I knew that I was going to nurture, harbor and protect this belonging like it was my very own offspring. It was the mini Kate Spade bucket bag. (Is that even its name?)  It was a graduation gift from middle school. It was the first time I had ever really, really wanted a material object. It was my first gift where I knew the price and I knew it was just over 100 dollars! It was a moment. Not necessarily a high-fashion, glamorous moment; but most definitely a moment.

    It was also the end of eighth grade, which also marks the end of the bar-mitzvah era. Yes, my mom’s timing wasn’t so hot for this one, but it marked the start of my love for bags and what better time to start than… then.  So with nowhere to really wear this bag, I admired it in my closet, not realizing this marked the start of another trend for me.

    ***

    Once I got to college, I didn’t really care for bags the way my friends did. To be frank, all of my money went towards sushi and booze. And as a budgeted, spending-savvy student, I was well-aware that there was no room in the budget for bags. Then, once I started earning money after college, I realized that Yes! I can now afford sushi, alcohol, and a nice bag!

    Shortly after that realization, I was quickly reminded of another lesson my mom taught me. Save your money. I knew better than to blow my hard-earned salary on bags. However, I also knew how great she looked sporting her best bags. So as time went on (a lot of time), and as I worked harder, I started to see the financial benefits of hard work. Promotions were granted, raises were awarded, and even commissions were eagerly accepted.  That’s when I decided to reward myself every now and then. And that’s when my bag collection officially started and officially grew.  It was a moment- an empowering moment- that led to a few more moments.

    As a big-time saver, it was sort of ludicrous to be splurging on a fancy bag every year or so.  Although I always found a way to get these bags discounted, I couldn’t help but still feel guilty. But then, wearing these bags- in the same fashion that a Girl Scout wears her patches- I felt confident knowing I was wearing some of my biggest professional accomplishments.

    And besides, I was never a Girl Scout. Sporting and storing my bags like trophies, I couldn’t help but smile proudly as I held my “first internet promotion sold” on my wrist. And still to this day, there’s no better feeling than wearing my “second job accepted” on my shoulder.

    It didn’t take long for me to have a horrible realization: for every major accomplishment worthy of a pat-on-the-back, I apparently decided to injure my back. Lugging around over-sized, fashion-forward leather delights, it didn’t take long for me to decide that although I loved these bags for the way they looked and what they represented- for the sake of my back, many of them were better left in their boxes in my closet. As silly as it sounds to not over-wear and get use out of a beautiful bag, it felt crazier that a job promotion should earn you a hunchback.

    Taking the utmost care of my trophies, I would store them in their original felt bags within the boxes they came in. My collection gave me so much pride. And in the same fashion a boxer shines his medals or an actor shines his Oscars, when wearing the bags, I make sure not to be one of those women who have Tic Tacs, loose change, lint, crumbs and a lone Advil at the bottom of their bags. I knew that these bags were worthy of proper care.

    When going to friends’ apartments, and seeing their nice bags thrown on the floor or watching them carelessly leave their bags unattended, I couldn’t help but pass judgment. Perhaps their mothers didn’t teach them to respect their stuff. Or maybe they just looked at their bags as stuff- what bags actually are.

    Then, I moved to New York and obviously, took my collection with me. Excited to rock my trophies in a new city, I couldn’t help but want more. But instead of buying the typical leather delicacies for my shoulder or wrist, it didn’t take long for me to start wearing old bags from the past. Bags that existed way before the trophy collection. I traded in my fine leather and designer labels for water-resistant messenger bags and totes from my youth. Walking around a city with a dog, jumping from subway to subway, and just always trekking, hauling and moving , it just wasn’t worth it to use a fine bag.  I became obsessed. Always on the hunt for the perfect messenger bag, all I cared about was comfort, convenience and of course, never risking ruining a trophy bag,

    And still to this day, when it’s raining, I opt for the waterproof option- options that are not included in the trophy collection. And even sometimes, I go bagless, choosing a coat with large pockets or a shopping bag. It seems crazy, but I appreciate owning something that I need to take care of much more than appreciating fashion. So if buying a YSL handbag means I need to carry around a LuluLemon shopping bag as a purse if it’s raining, so be it. It’s all good to me.

    At SoulCycle, a spinning studio I frequently attend, I see sweaty girls wearing fancy, expensive bags. And it actually makes me sick. They too easily throw dirty sneakers and spinning shoes in their fancy bags to contaminate their other belongings and the insides of their bags. As sweat drips off their necks onto and into their bags, I cringe. That Goyard better be fake. It’s funny, because as little as I respect buying “fakes,” I have even less respect for sticking spinning shoes rawly in a real. That’s just me.

    When I go to SoulCycle, I go bagless. It isn’t the right venue for a nice bag. Even if it sat in a locker, I don’t want a beloved trophy locked up in the same place where people store their sweaty clothes and sneakers. I use SoulCycle waterproof shopping bags as my workout bag. It’s perfect- mainly because they’re big, waterproof and disposable.  And ironically, I’m still sporting a trophy on my shoulder.  See? I spin! And it’s not at an Equinox class. 

    Sometimes, when I see my bags lined up in my closet, I fantasize about looking at my collection when I’m an elderly woman. Picking up a current favorite of mine now, I’d think to myself: This old thing? What great taste! Even back when you got your 2010 raise, you had timeless taste! However, given how I feel about my Kate Spade Bucket Bag now, I don’t know if that will happen. Especially because that bag didn’t even make it to the collection!

    We’ve all heard that we should never love anything that can’t love you back, but I can’t help but love what these trophies stand for.  However- At the end of the day, while stuff should be taken care of, stuff is just stuff.  So while I continue to take care of these things – because I’ll always take care of my belongings- I do keep myself in check.

    My mom’s never been materialistic but she’s always been confident. So being the impressionable mama’s gal I am, I can’t help but follow suit.  For every professional accomplishment, I know better than to run out and get a trophy. Even if it’s on sale.

    And as long as I’m confident -because I earned it- that’s really all I need to be sporting.  Especially if it’s raining.

     

     

     

     

    3 Responses to “The Bag Lady”

    1. Lauren S. says:

      Glad to see you are BACK IN ACTION! Love this one… Nothing better than having a SOUL tote to avoid cross contamination!

    2. dad says:

      hello dolly!–it’s so nice to have u back where you belong. we’ve all been waiting for our “stuff that keeps me up at night” fix. apropos that this “bag lady” thing is really about “stuff”. nice job–keep em coming–don’t wait seven months.

    3. mom says:

      :) :) Back in the saddle!

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