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A purse that’s “big enough”

Food For Thought

It may be coincidence but about this time every year, I find myself going through my purse and weeding out all the old expired appointment cards, credit cards, receipts, shopping lists and other leftovers of my life. I’m always surprised at how much of that stuff loiters around clear at the bottom amid the chewing gum wrappers, paper clips, assorted coins and what appear to be cookie crumbs, though I swear I never carried cookies around in my purse. (In my jacket pockets, yes, though I don’t know why I bother because I always forget about them until they’ve self-destructed and mingled in with the used Kleenexes and something else resembling squashed raisins but probably isn’t.)
One of the great mysteries of both purse and pocket is the number and variety of ballpoint pen tops I have apparently saved but never replaced on their appropriate ballpoint pens. What has become of the pens themselves? I can’t imagine, but some of the tops are recognizable as belonging to a brand of pens I buy and use frequently. Some seem totally foreign to me and I can recall no time when I might have borrowed or swiped such pens for temporary use and then neglected to return them. Nor have I ever been in the habit of picking up odd pen tops in hopes I just might come across the corresponding pen and reunite them.
There was a time in my life when this purse-purging was unnecessary. At some time in every woman’s life, she is aware of fashion, style, or whatever you choose to call it and gets trapped in the necessity to “accessorize” her wardrobe. This means simply, she succumbs to a certain mystique demanding color-coordinating purses, shoes, hats, scarves, gloves, earrings and other minor bits of wardrobe with the major, essential parts of it. Once caught up in the questionable necessity of having certain items of her apparel match certain other elements of same, she finds herself changing purses frequently. Changing shoes, belts, hats, gloves, etc. is no big deal, but switching purses is a little trickier. She must have a purse able to hold certain essentials such as driver’s license, checkbook, credit cards, cash and change, shopping lists, insurance cards and other items dependent upon her destination and plans for the day. These might include such things as extra tissues, cough drops, allergy tablets, wet-wipes, hand sanitizer, disposable diapers, baby pacifier, Cheerios, small toys, address book, street map, cell phone, car and house keys, ad infinitum.
When each excursion is likely to involve a different type of clothing and thus a different purse, said purse is usually “packed” for that specific trip, so purses are cleaned out and reorganized more or less daily. Once I recovered from the notion I must have a different purse for each outfit, and settled on a capacious all-purpose tote that allowed me to be prepared for any contingency, I saved a lot of time by eliminating the need to stock my purse anew each day (though I probably used up any saved time in digging through the depths of my much larger purse in my efforts to locate specific items.) The larger bag allowed me to add things I thought I “might” need, not just those I knew from experience were essential. Such a generous-size purse allowed me to keep paint chips and fabric samples, just in case I should happen to come upon an unexpected sale of something I was hoping to match. Along with the samples was a list of measurements of rooms, furniture and windows, so I could be sure of spaces and sizes, as well as colors.
A planned few days visiting a former roommate brought up the wisdom of taking along extra prescribed pills– just in case the visit lasted more than the planned three days. In fact, it seemed like a good idea to always have a week’s supply with me, in case I should ever get stranded away from home unexpectedly. Along that same line of thinking; shouldn’t I also have an emergency change of underwear, a hairbrush and toothbrush handy– just in case? After all, there was plenty of room in my big, roomy purse.
My back bothered me a lot, my son said I walked lop-sided, I no longer held onto my purse when the nurse at the doctor’s office invited me to step onto the scales. I felt as if I were carting a bowling ball around with me all the time.
How was I going to wean myself from that big bag full of “necessities?” I needed all that stuff. Or did I?
I bought a much smaller bag to hold the actual necessities. I still relied on the big tote bag, but it generally stayed in the car until the day I realized I hadn’t needed one single thing in it for several months.