About a handbag

I found myself shopping for a handbag the other day. I’m not sure if I’m one of those rare women who do not feel compelled to have a purse for every mood and piece of clothing in the closet because I’m happy with having a “work” bag and a couple of “weekend” bags. I just happened to need to kill an hour or so before my appointment so I headed to Ross that day. I was leisurely walking amid the racks when this bag caught my eye. It was exactly what I needed it to be: big, roomy, with the right number of pockets in the right places, and the look that sang “weekend.” But, but—OMG, it was yellow! Well, not highlighter yellow, not neon yellow but yellow-y enough to stop me from taking it straight to the cashier. You see, when it comes to clothing and accessories, I have always gravitated towards black, gray, blue and brown. The colors that match almost everything, that mean conservative and serious. The safe colors. A yellow bag would have been a big departure from my comfort zone. So I put the bag back on the rack and walked away. But that yellow hobo shoulder bag seemed to keep whispering in my ear: Come back. This is you too. Was it? I don’t know how many times I returned to the rack, picked up the bag, tried it on, appraised it at arm’s length, put it back and walked away again. I circled the area so many times that I was afraid the security guard was beginning to think I was a shoplifter. And every time I tried that bag on my shoulder, I could hear this reproachful voice taunting me, “Oh, come on. What could you wear with that yellow thing? You’re going to stand out for miles.” While another voice said encouragingly, “Isn’t this different and new? It’s fresh and happy.“
“Are you nuts?” Voice #1 would say. “You’re too old for that color.”
What!? That’s when I started to worry that I might be having a mid-life crisis, that buying a yellow bag was the equivalent of a black leather jacket and a Harley. In the end, I left the store without the bag. But it never left my mind for the rest of the day. That bag had spoken to me somehow and it was not about recapturing my teenage years, but about the need to explore and accept new sides of me. As I grow older, there is this person in me—a happier one, who no longer gives too much importance to what other people may think or expect. She’s no less responsible, but she’s freer and more comfortable and secured in being herself. Maybe the yellow bag was a reflection of this inner evolution. Knowing that my sister was going to be near the store the next day, I described and drew a picture of the bag and asked her that if it was still there, to buy it for me. Fate obliged. I own it and it’s my favorite weekend bag now.

Kathy Van Zeeland hobo bag

My yellow bag – image by Amaia Li

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