Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Bag Thing

Recently, I was first in bed and asked Joe if he wouldn't mind fetching my glasses.  I was already cozy, pillows just-so, book propped on belly, when I realized I was missing my eyes. They're in my purse, I called out as he headed down the hall to the kitchen, confident that I'd provided adequate instruction to assist him in his search.  

A few minutes later, as he handed me my glasses, he said, "You might as well have said they're in your hiding place."  Neatly expressing, I think, all of the mystery (to him) of what is all this shit I carry around with me everywhere I go.  When pockets could suffice.  If my clothes had anything but the most decorative of pockets, that is.

But I could never just use my pockets, unless they were really, really big pockets, and how absurd would that be?  I need a bag to move my life from one spot to another throughout the day, and derive a great deal of security from having my tools with me wherever I go.  But the bag thing is something I've been thinking about lately, both the bag proper and its content.

I've been unhappy with my particular purse for a while, re-entering this phase where I am always looking for the perfect bag.  I keep thinking I have this thing licked, find what I think what will the perfect bag, the bag to end all bags, only to find that it still doesn't work for my needs.  There was the green suede bucket bag, made in Marin, that lasted me a while, but then became a source of endless frustration as I dug about in its slouchy deep corners and crannies to find things.  There was the blue suede many-pocketed purse which promised to hold each thing in its place and be sizeable enough for school notebooks, but then that one drove me crazy with its largeness, items swimming around in its leopard-print interior, swallowed by the vastness.

My clever husband coined a term for a bag of this nature.  He calls it a "souch," which is a cross between "slouch" and "pouch."  

So I've been back to a beat-up old Timbuktu messenger bag for months.  It offers the right interior dimensions and pockets, without so much space that my portables get out of control.  It wears slung across my back, so that my hands are free, no purse annoyingly slipping off a shoulder and causing a coffee catastrophe.  It corresponds to my loathing for the fussy, and yet I always do feel like a bit of an impostor stepping out of my car with a bike-bag.  But someday, when I'm no longer an anemic shadow of my former self, I'll be back on the bike and the bag-hypocrisy won't bite me so hard in the arse.  

I like to think what I carry around is significant, that what I carry it in also matters.  It's a detail I notice about others.  And I harbor a secret wish -- sometimes acted upon -- to ask my friends to let me root around in their bags-of-tricks, see what's important enough to them to carry around everyday.  

So I reached out to friends, looking for inspiration and some company in This Bag Thing, via this email:  
I wonder if you’d like to help me with a little project.  Participation is entirely voluntary.  The list of invitees is a little random, a little not so random, just to see what will happen. 
I’m a little obsessed with bags at the moment, particularly what people, I mean we, I mean women, carry around in them. This is probably because I’m between bags at the moment, dissatisfied, and wondering when I’ll finally procure the final bag, the perfect bag, the bag to end all bags.  But in truth, I’ve always been fascinated by the contents of other people’s purses, am always curious about what people choose to lug around, what’s important enough to take with us wherever we go.  
So, here’s what I’m looking for:  I want to know what’s in your bag.  Please send me one photo taken with your phone or camera, nothing fancy, of the contents of your purse.  You can pose the bag itself in the shot if you like, and arrange the contents so that they can easily be seen by others. 
If it’s of interest, you can provide a description of contents, or add any anecdotes or thoughts about the why of what you carry around.  Especially if there’s something nutty you always carry – lucky charm, sentimental trinket, what-have-you.
I am so grateful to the lovelies who opted to indulge my curiosity, sending photos and commentary.  I'll be sharing their responses in this space in the coming weeks, telling the story of their stuff. 

Stay tuned - so fun!


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