Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Just To Say

"A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen."
-Edward de Bono

The only handbag I have ever owned- I must write about it- is about to expire.
The faux black leather is crumbling and leaving a trail of shredded crumbs wherever I wander. The strap, which converted the thing to a comfortable backpack, fell off three months ago and since then I have had to grip the bag with my fingers to carry it.
I used it in college in California. Pens, cellphone, notebook, sunglasses, keys, wallet, water bottle, food and reading material all managed magically to find room in the bag with more left over for my daily after-school visits to thrift stores and library.
The bag never once failed me and I always found room for something new.
Six years. It served me rather well. It carried me through pleasant times and gloomy ones, hot sun that threatened to crack the ground open and biting snow and ice, through many states and countries, and was the bearer of numerous treasures rooted from the dusty corners of beloved used bookstores.
I had it with me during all the fourteen months in Ireland while waiting to hear if I could join Spouse: it was in my terrified and sweating hand at the heart-achingly-long Embassy interview when I could not guess whether my precious passport and new visa would be tucked into one of its many compartments afterward, when I would emerge into the daylight.
Spouse quite likes the bag too and has long admired its capacity for endless carriage.
Then the zipper fell off yesterday and landed with an ominous clatter on the floor. I can be in denial no longer.
Some things are impossible to replace. As someone who never at all wanted to have such an accessory in the first place, I find myself unexpectedly melancholy that I have to let it go now and consign it to the past.
As it is with everything, the time has come. This is not intended to anthropomorphise an inanimate leather bag, just to say that I will be at a loss for a while.
A new bag will just not be the same.
Adieu, Dear Handbag!


Pauline said...

I love the reluctance to let go of a thing because of the importance it played in your life. My cousin and I were discussing this very subject (not handbags but things in general that we become attached to) on a weekend visit and decided that we invest something of ourselves in the objects we own which in turn makes them have an importance apart from their usefulness.

Jaime said...

Just like the Velveteen Rabbit...loved to it's entirety.

I felt like this about my car. Had it for over 10 years, and so loved my little jeep. Then, 2 months ago I literally had to roll it into the car dealership to trade up for a new one. It's road days were OVER. I love my new one (never had a new car before!), but it doesn't have any history yet, like my old one. So many life experiences involved that car.

Funny how we get attached to things as though they are faithful a way I guess they are!

julochka said...

i'm back in the blogosphere! what a lovely ode to a beloved bag! i can, however, as a bit of a bag lady(?), assure you that there will be a new and wonderful one waiting around the corner for you. one which you will fill with the patina of memories and experiences, just as you did with the old one. it won't be a replacement, per se, but you will come to love your new bag as well.

plus, it's FUN to shop for purses, so you have that excitement ahead of you! :-) wish i could come with you and help!

Beth said...

Don't you think that it is the link to memories that you are mourning rather than the actual object itself? With the handbag, you can look at it and easily conjure up memories but without it you have to either have other triggers or do one more step in your brain in order to access the memories. I am DEFINITELY the same way--and after spending most of Sunday packing up my two daughters two dorm rooms, they are too. Every note written by a friend had to be scrutinized as to whether it should be kept--lone socks, plastic cups, you name it--they were all scrutinized for memories. Our car is not very big so there were a lot of reluctant tosses into the trash.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Pauline, it was very important to me. I don't care about bags or possessions but you said it perfectly- I invested happy years of my life into that bag and made it more important than its primary function.

Jaime, I love the Velveteen Rabbit. I recently read a very similar newly published book called 'The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane' by Kate Dicamillo. I'd recommend it in the same vein except its so very sad.
I think you're right, these things are faithful companions but we don't see it until we exchange them for new things.

Julie, welcome back ;) Thank you, I'm sure I'll find something and as Jaime said, give it a history!
I too wish you could help me shop for a bag. My mother would enjoy the excursion too. Can she come along?

Beth, you are so right. It's the sentimentality of the thing, not the physical item. And these days when we're trying to clean up and get rid of things, we come to understand how burdensome sentimental feelings can be. Life might be short but it's many years to be collecting pieces of paper from everybody that ever wrote you a note. I know what you mean by reluctant tossing- it's never easy but you keep yourself going by the thought of new memories to come and by the fact that getting rid of the physical doesn't mean the memory has to go too.

tangobaby said...

That bag held a lot of love and hope and's hard to replace something that is much more than what it appears to be...

The trick will be finding a new bag that lasts a lifetime and then you won't have to part with it again. Perhaps something in a more sturdy material?

See, there's me getting all practical again.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Tangobaby, It was in fact very sturdy- I don't think I could have done better. I don't remember what it cost but it was cheap, so I was always surprised by how long it lasted. I suppose I could get a more expensive one this time but I find that more money doesn't always equate with quality. Although admittedly I've never properly gone bag-shopping...
Practical is good! It's helpful! :)

mouse (aka kimy) said...

lovely tribute to your old handbag.

I do find some things are particularly prone to becoming imbued with memories and sentiment. this bag was with you during many important chapters in your life - it is very understandable that you are saddened. I only wonder if a talented handy-person can replace the zipper - or is the bag's skin also too far gone.

I have a leather bag that my sister bought me in 1994 - it's a wonderful bag (more tote than purse) handmade in egypt it sports beautiful bedouin crossstitching on the front. much loved, much used....then about about a month ago one of the straps ripped at the connection for I started using it a while back to carry around my camera (as my camera bag) fits in it just perfectly...and the egyptian bag wonderfully disguises the fact I carry a camera everywhere. anyhow, long story a bit shorter....I found a leathershop just around the corner from where I lived - he fixed the strap and also polished up the much distressed leather (I never cared for the leather) and the bag and I am enjoying a second life together!

anyhow, some old things can be made new again if one finds the right person.....

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

The skin is also worn through. I could have managed with that, though, except the other parts fell off too.
It's not a material that can be fixed- not like your leather bag. Can't stitch it or anything.
That's a great story about your bag though- it meant a lot to you and sounds beautiful!
I'll see what I can do, but I think it's time to call it a day. Notice I haven't yet disposed of it... ;) Something inside tells me to wait.

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