I have always been a handbag enthusiast. Since I can remember, I have been carrying a purse with me. I can't recall exactly when or why I became hyperaware of this accessory, but it felt like an organic development that little did I know would result in a lifelong friendship.
Between the ages of five and 10, the contents of my bag were more or less useless. Usually, I would stuff them with snacks and various types of candy, along with my favorite jumbo sized Bonne Bell bubblegum flavored Lip Smacker. Sometimes my favorite Barbie doll would be in there too, with a few extra outfits, just in case she wanted to change during lunch. I began to peruse my mother's closet and leave with a serious case of bag envy, counting the days until she would let me borrow one.
When I started middle school, I carried a purse with me to school every single day.
As I grew in age, my purse grew in size. I was able to fit all my favorite belongings in it, which were mostly from either Claire's or Sanrio. They were all organized and compartmentalized as I saw fit. Looking back, I think it was a representation of my soon to be manifested OCD. It was an extension of myself. I slept with my purse to next my bed. Even on sleepovers, it slept on the nightstand.
In high school, I dealt with some major separation anxiety. I went away to boarding school, and for about the first two weeks, I carried on as usual bringing my purse and my school bag with me to classes. I noticed that in this new environment, I was the only one carrying two bags. I started to hide my smaller purse in my school bag, and then graduated to consolidating all of my essential items into a small pouch that I tucked away next to my pencil case.
For some women, life is looked back on through the lens of a dress or a favorite pair of shoes. For me, bags are a time marker, an object on which I can look back on and recall a feeling or an event. They carry inside of them parts of who I was, and who I am.
My purse isn't where loose pills of Advil go to die or bobby pins disappear into a dark abyss. God forbid one should find a crumpled up old Kleenex in there!