From my first World Famous army surplus satchel to the Mountain Equipment Co-op pouch I pilfered from a daughter last year, my bags have been utilitarian and lumpy. Today it was time for me to go to the Italian shoe shop and buy myself an elegant leather bag to see me into my fifties. I slowly circled the place and dismissed all but the two smallest bags: one was utilitarian but the second was streamlined and I bought it. But back on the street I knew there was something about it I couldn’t stand. It was too… powerless. Someone could easily empty it for me on the subway. The utilitarian one was zippered like something out of the army and it had pencil holders, which the sleek one did not. The sleek one also hung differently – it dangled at my hip and moved around, exposed, whereas the utilitarian one fitted snugly in front. I could forget about the utilitarian one until I needed a coin or a pencil, whereas the sleek one shimmied around drawing attention to itself. I turned back and asked the lovely young shop assistant if I could change my mind.
The sleek bag cost a great deal more than the utilitarian one, and he told me I would have to take home the difference in the form of a shop credit rather than recouping the cash I had handed him twelve minutes beforehand. I practiced my new Reiki principles and replied that this meant a wonderful opportunity for me to return soon to his shop full of high quality products and treat myself to a second item. Spring is coming, I said, and there will be sandals.
Does a daily new action count if, minutes later, I undo it? I thought I could buy myself a feminine, elegant bag, but the thing took away so much of my power, I couldn’t bear it.
There is something behind the topic of purses that really has to do with women’s power. When I walked up Boulevard St. Laurent with that sleek bag, I felt vulnerable and at risk. The inutility of it, its openness to trespass, and its inability to carry anything securely, made me feel ungirded, unprepared and weak. It was as if there were more going on than just the selection of a bag to carry a few personal things. It was more as if I had unwisely chosen my warrior garments and was about to be wiped out on the battlefield. If I were to get to the real truth, I suspect what I really need is a mediaeval pouch, or a sporran.