Bagging some happiness (or May the purse be with you.)

It’s been a rough week. Bailee, my much beloved canine companion of 16 ½ years finally went to her rest, peacefully and with only the briefest bit of suffering.  I’m not ready to write about that yet. Maybe when the house stops feeling so big and quiet. The next day, my 75-year-old mother had her first cataract procedure—which is fairly painless and safe, but she was a nervous wreck, a situation she hid badly. And I can say, quite honestly, that I while really do love my job and feel fortunate to be as comfortable and as appreciated as I am in it, the last few weeks have been more taxing than usual.

Since I’m already battling a B-12 deficiency, which makes it even more difficult to deal with stressful situations, I’ve learned a few tricks to fool my serotonin levels into thinking everything is ok. I’m getting very good at going to my happy place.

And generally speaking, my happy place is the mall.

I knew I had a (more than) mild addiction to the shiny floors, the soft bright lights, the rainbow of blues and fuchsias and pale greens—love that green—that are starting to show up in those lushly decorated windows. There’s the new age, almost zen vibe of Aveda (you buy shampoo, they give you a cup of herbal tea), the paint box temptations of Sephora and MAC, shoes, shoes and shoes, the retro sweetness of the Orange Julep kiosk and the bracing aroma of Italian roast wafting out of Starbucks. I could go on. Really, I could.

But I realized very early one morning last week that the mall monkey on my back was in full force, when I found my nose pressed up against the window of the Fossil store in a nearly empty mall just after 7 a.m. in the morning. Ten minutes earlier, I’d assumed the same pose at Coach. If only they’d leave more lights on, then I wouldn’t get bronzer smudge on their glass.

When feeling the need for comfort, some women eat ice cream, some women drink wine and some women buy lipstick. I tend to go on a bag binge. These days, I lean towards more quality than quantity and my closets are thanking me for that. It’s been years since I landed on the front step with three bags of…well, bags. It used to be shoes, but since I can no longer totter around on the achingly sweet high heeled pointy pumps I used to love so much without my back and calves protesting, that bell doesn’t tend to ring as loudly for me these days.

But it’s not as if my leisurely life of strolling the malls at dawn (prior to a full day at the office, I need to add) is not without dilemmas. I’ve saved up for a new spring bag, a purchase I try to keep below the equivalent of a car payment but frankly I’m torn: the Coach Madison Leather Lindsey Satchel in Desert, that will go with simply everything and last forever or the far more affordable Fossil Maddox Satchel, which would be practical in Chestnut or Camel—but I so love that delicious summery Sea Green! Decisions, decisions!

Sigh.

I’ve heard a woman’s relationship with her handbag (at least women who have the bag gene—and trust me, they are legion and number significantly among my friends) compared to a man’s relationship with his car. I don’t think that’s an accurate parallel. My dependence on a good quality, well-designed, attractive cool bag (and yes, the cool factor must be present) is closer to that of a soldier with his battle kit. It helps me survive the day. Like a security blanket, I can clutch it close to my body when I feel vulnerable. It lets me find my keys immediately in dark and potentially dangerous places, makes possible one-handed lip gloss retrieval, saves me from Starbuck’s line embarrassment by serving up my coffee card without a lengthy search and keeps everything I need for the day (or a reasonable length stay out of the country) right at hand. Knowing I have my essentials ordered and close by pushes back the chaos and puts me in control. The right bag is my tool of empowerment, my shield against a tough world, my sanctuary of order.

And I have to admit, practicality aside, I’m learning towards getting that sanctuary in buttery soft sea green.

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2 Comments on “Bagging some happiness (or May the purse be with you.)”

  1. Joy Parks says:

    Got a few Kate Spades–and there’s a Jacob’s I like, an east-west tote, but it’s too heavy empty, I’d need wheels on once I got my stuff packed in. Seriously, I really love that Fossil bag and the photo doesn’t do the color justice.

  2. Jensketch says:

    I am with you on the bag gene. I have this gene in nines. And tens. And twelves.

    I’d steer clear of Coach. My brand snobbery cannot help but mention this. Coach bags are so ubiquitous and the “first rung” of nice bags that is the gatekeeper brand. You’re ready to move along. Kate Spade. Mark Jacobs (ohhhh yes).

    We will all eventually get ourselves a Berkin, one day 😉


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