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How Is My Dignity Not In There Somewhere?

A woman’s purse, I might argue, is a direct reflection of herself.  What’s important to her, what she needs to get through her day, what she struggles against.  All this we can learn just by taking a peek at and inside a woman’s purse.

When I was a in high school I used to look at my mom’s purse with a certain level of disdain and disgust.  It was a utilitarian, nondescript black thing, usually stuffed to the gills and with a layer of crumbs at the bottom.  It was very much the standard “mommy purse,” the kind which at all times inevitably contained some crumpled dollar bills, a baggie of Cheerios, and a collection of wadded up tissues.  And she carried it with her no matter the occasion.  But being the high school shit that I was, I always swore I would never have a giant, single purse.  I would always switch my purse to match my outfit, and only carry the bare essentials.  My purse would always be tiny and adorable and fashionable and would never have crumbs in the bottom.  Because, like, ew.

But now, at 25 years old, I find myself carrying a utilitarian, nondescript gray purse, usually stuffed to the gills.

Oh, and not only is there a layer of crumbs at the bottom, but I also found a Swedish Fish at the bottom of my purse.  (I ate it, don’t judge.)  Right at this moment, the contents of my purse include:

1 carabiner with three keys, include house and 2 cars

1 carabiner with a metric ass-ton of keys, include my office, my shop, and several I don’t know what they open

1 1st generation Kindle

2 pairs of sunglasses, 1 teal and 1 black

1 gigantic brown wallet, also stuffed to the gills

1 point-and-shoot camera

1  Ultimate Focus Tool, on a telephone cord with carabiner clip

1 small flip notepad

7 pens

3 sharpies

2 Raspberry Lemonade Single Serving Drink Mix

1 pack of Trident Layers gum

1 coupon for Auntie Annie’s Pretzles

1 $1 bill, crumpled

1 scrap of notebook paper, Kyle’s Subway order written on it

1 stud nose ring

3 silver gum wrapper

1 key, to what I can’t remember

1 CVS card

1 penny

3 reciepts

4 hair ties


Now, to be fair, the reason I carry such an un-dainty purse is because I carry it to work, a decidedly un-dainty place while wearing decidedly un-dainty clothes.  A nice purse would only get filthy.  And I do own many other purses that do come out when I dress up which are sassy and fashionable.  But let’s face facts: this gray monstrosity is my go-to purse.  Unless I’m feeling fancy and make the effort to transfer a portion of my crap into a new, prettier purse, (which, these days, is not too often,) it’s the one I grab.

And the more I think about it, I think it’s what happens when you become an adult.  As an adult, we take on more responsibilities and have to stretch ourselves further than we could possibly imagine as little high school shits.  And I think we find ourselves making small sacrifices in order to just survive life.  Little things like carrying an unsophisticated purse.  Not doing the elaborate hair and make up every morning.  Having Cocoa Puffs and Funyuns for dinner every so often.  Not having sex two or three times a day, every day.  It’s not what we imagined for ourselves and it’s not the fairy tale, but it’s what we need to do to get by.

And it’s those little sacrifices that help us get through the day successfully.  Yeah, they’re maybe a little lazy and a little sloppy.  But by carrying my unfashionable yet extremely functional purse, it means no scrambling in the morning for the “right” purse.  No “Fuck me!  I left my wallet in my other purse!” moments.  Just grabbing my purse, running a hand through my un-styled, air-dried hair, and running out the door confident that at least I know where my keys and my asshole are.  And in my world, that can mean the difference between getting by with our dignity in tact and crashing and burning.

So  here’s to you, you utilitarian, nondescript, ugly-ass gray purse.  I couldn’t do it without you.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • miss melicious October 28, 2011, 12:23 pm

    Ah…yes, I remember the same disdain for my mother’s ugly non-descript black purse. Just wait…your purse contents sound somewhat exciting…mine is full of super unfun things like diaper rash creams and diapers. (mainly because I refuse to carry a diaper bag per se…have you seen how freaking ugly those things are?!?!)

  • Kate November 1, 2011, 8:20 am

    I love seeing what’s in other people’s purses! Everyone who ever meets me is aware of my giant bags. I have several that I rotate around whenever I get tired of looking at the same one for too long. I want to be able to pack a book, my iPad, several packs of gum, pens, at least one of my many notebooks, etc. etc. etc.
    Funny thing is, my mother has always kept the small, cute purse; I don’t think I’ve ever seen her or either of my grandmothers with anything that couldn’t easily fit inside a breadbox.

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