My Life in Purses

Never had this one.

Photo by Never had this one.

I spent some time today cleaning out my closet.  I had stockpiled a bunch of outgrown clothes from the kids.  I don’t outgrow things anymore, but I do stop wearing them.  I also have a plethora of purses.

I opened my closet and got to work.  I put all of Zac’s stuff in a bag.  I have a friend who has boys a little smaller than Zac who could use his things.  Ruby only had a couple of things, so those went into a general bag with my stuff.  I tossed in a couple of pairs of shoes.  Why in the world did I buy those 3″ navy blue suede heels?!  Was I planning to aerate the lawn?  Heck, I’d probably get stuck in the grass wearing them.

I peered at the top of my closet.  Purses next.  I started grabbing them down.  Four black, one pink, one brown, one green, one red and black, one with butterflies, one Betty Boop and one zebra striped.  All the black purses were from my life as an administrator.  Black shoes, black purses.  They said I was serious.  I was focused.  Somehow, the ones from pre-Zac and just after Zac were much smaller than what I carry now.  The more flamboyant the purse, the further away I had moved from a regular job.  Wow!  Why did I keep all these?  Did I think there would be a purse emergency?  “Ma’am, we’re running low on purses in America.  Would you consider donating?  We appreciate your sacrifice.”

For the record, I hate being called ma’am.  I’m instantly 93, hunched over and leaning on a cane.


I didn’t think our local Goodwill would want to dump out all my used up-Kleenex and ballpoint pens stashed inside each purse. I found a couple of old vitamin supplements at the bottom of one purse.  Yum!  Right into the trash.  I discovered the usual fodder from a women’s purse.  An old compact.  A small jar of loose powder.  Expired lipsticks.  Emery boards.  I peeked in the bathroom mirror and painted on the magenta lipgloss I found.  Hmm.  Still goopy. Folks, look for lipgloss to survive the apocalypse, right alongside twinkies.

I picked up a plastic wallet insert from a defunct wallet.  I forgot all about it.  Hey, my gold GNC card!  And a Hollywood Video card.  Toss! Amongst all the detritus of past lives, business and Starbucks cards and spare change (yay!), I found a treasure.  Every year, since Zac was one year old, we took family photos at Christmas.  I’d forgotten all about these wallet-sized portraits.  I pored over the pictures, momentarily lost in memories.

We haven’t posed for family pictures in years.  Something always came up.  We got too busy.  The closest photo store to us closed its doors.  Getting our kids to sit still without bickering or poking each other proved problematic.  I could make a thousand excuses but you get the idea.

I can see that because I worked, I truly needed that tangible reminder of my family.  I needed to be able to pull it out and say, These are the wonderful people I’m related to.  I go to work for them.  I remember having a framed photo of the three of us – pre-Ruby – on my desk at Aspen.  It helped to put the job in perspective.  It wasn’t my identity.

As I gathered the bags of unwanted items and stashed them in the back of Pepper-car, I thought of all the great adventures I’ve been able to have.  I haven’t always been a stay-at-home-mom.  I’ve been able to work full-time and part-time.  I’ve been the main breadwinner.  I’ve completely relied on Jonathon’s income for seasons, too.  It felt a little bittersweet, getting rid of these strapped reminders of days gone by.  Then I remember:   today is so much sweeter.

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