Old Baggage

When I was in junior high school, I begged my parents to go in on a purse that I was desperate to buy.

Not just any purse. It was a Gucci Speedy/Doctor bag. (We didn’t call it that then. I only know that’s its name from researching this…it is now considered vintage! Ouch!) It probably cost a couple of hundred dollars, which was a lot in those days (at least to my family) to pay for a purse, or anything, really.

Everybody had one, or so it seemed to me.

I went to a large public high school, so there was a mix of economic and racial backgrounds, kids from many different backgrounds.

On any given day you would see the many different lifestyles reflected in the fashion of the different groups. Sometimes what a kid was wearing reflected their socio-economic status, but not always.

There were “Stoners” (or “Partiers.”) The “Kickers” (this was Texas after all — so these kids were cowboy/farmer types.) It being the 80’s, there were the “Punkrocker” or “New Wavers.” ( I know, this is beginning to sound like the movie “Pretty in Pink.” That movie resonated for a reason, right?)

It was the height of the Preppy or Preppie craze, and though Houston, Texas was not NYC, we did get the fashion trends, albeit maybe a season or two behind. So the other main group was the “Preppies.”

The majority of kids in the Preppies definitely came from upper middle class to wealthy families. Looking back, for a public school, there were quite a few kids that came from great wealth.

I didn’t really fall into any one group. While my family was white-collar, sort of upper middle class, my father, having come from next to nothing, wanted to be sure that we were not spoiled. We never wanted for anything, but we lived fairly simply in comparison to some of the other kids in my school.

I was never one of the popular kids. I was an outcast until I lost a bunch of weight at 14, when suddenly I became of more interest to the “in” crowd. Though my outsides changed, my insides were the same. So though I was allowed around the in crowd now, I never felt a part of it.

There were others like me. We found each other and created our own group. We didn’t have a name, at least that I know of.

We were sort of mysterious: people knew we had fun going out to clubs and bars and hanging with older college kids. Though we had friends across all the groups, we would hang with just each other outside of school. We dressed in a mix of all of the fashions of the day.

But back to that bag. The bag that “everyone” was getting. I just had to have one. I had some money from babysitting, but not enough for THAT bag. So through the implementation of Chinese water torture on my dad, I promised over and over dramatically that “I would never need to buy another purse again for as long as I lived if I had that bag!”

Eventually, I wore my parents down. I got THE bag.

I have no recollection as to whether or not obtaining the bag actually brought me any pleasure whatsoever. I ‘m pretty sure that the amount of time I actually used it was very brief, much to my father’s chagrin.

Years later, after my Mom died, when we were sorting through some of her things, my Dad reminded me of that bag and that promise. We laughed about it, but I felt a cringe of guilt at how easily I had let go of that bag after having fought so hard to get it.

I think it’s because I really had no connection to the bag itself. Only to the way I wanted to be seen carrying it. The lifestyle to which I wanted to be associated. Which was not reflective of my own style at all, or even who I really was or even wanted to be.

But I wanted to feel like, or to be wanted by at least, (or to be seen by others as being wanted by or as one of “them,”) those popular girls, and so I got the bag. It didn’t make me feel any more a part of the “it” group than I ever had. I was an outsider and I always would be, bag or no bag.

It makes me sad that the girl I was then didn’t feel good enough in my own esteem to have seen that bag for what is was: a status symbol. It wasn’t the bag I really wanted. I wanted status. How I wish I could go back in time and tell that myself that being an outsider was actually pretty cool. Now I know the kind of status I needed would never be able to come from anything outside of my own heart. I wish I hadn’t sold myself so easily and so cheaply.

After my Dad died, I found that old Gucci purse in a box in the garage, where my Dad had kept it for me all these years. It was in mint condition, barely used.

Maybe you are hoping I’ll say I started to use it again. Or that I sold it at a profit on Ebay.

I gave it to the Salvation Army, where I hope it became a found treasure for someone who really wanted it for its beauty. I hope it is being put to good use in the world, as should all things.

Today I carry a very practical Lug Moped Day Pack bag as a purse. It costs about $35.


It’s light, leaves me hands free and has just the right ratio of open pockets, zippered pockets, divisions and space. (As it turns out, I am quite finicky about a handbag’s function, would love to design my own ideal bag, but this is as close to my ideal as I have found to buy.)

I have no interest in designer handbags. I may admire their beauty sometimes, and be amazed at and appreciative of the women who pay for them, love and carry them. But they were never my style and probably never will be.

I can live with that.

#purses #handbags #self-love #Iamnotmybag #theeighties

Inspired by The Daily Post word prompt: lifestyle

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