I bought a new purse this week and spent a few minutes transferring the contents of my old one to it. I routinely carry the same purse each day, although I have a much smaller one that I sometimes use, and a “fanny pack” for situations that require it. These days, because of concerns about the impact of weight on my shoulders, I carry as few items as possible. My wallet, phone, calendar, checkbook, keys, and a tiny container of medications comprise the basics. I also carry a few business cards, lip gloss, a nail file, a couple of Band-Aids, and a tiny flashlight. I don’t wear makeup so you won’t find any in my purse. I don’t carry a hairbrush because my hair is so curly. I keep change to a minimum and usually remove it the same day I receive it.
As I changed purses I marveled at how its contents reflect the changes in my lifestyle. When my children were babies I carried the requisite diaper bag in addition to my purse, but as they grew older I began transferring a few necessary items to my purse and left the diaper bag at home. During their early childhood I always had tissue, candy, safety pins, baby aspirin, crayons, paper, and whatever else I thought I might be required as we worked through our list of daily errands. And of course my own needs included makeup, a hair brush, and a dozen other items. Change could always be found at the bottom of my purse because it was needed to buy the sodas we drank far too frequently. As a consequence of my “be prepared” attitude, my purse was always large and heavy. It’s a wonder that I could even carry it! Thank goodness I at least had the wisdom to forego a shoulder bag during those years.
My grandmother was my role model for being prepared. My father often joked that Gran carried everything but the kitchen sink in her large custom-made purse. He was right of course! I don’t recall ever asking her for anything that she didn’t have. Handkerchief, money, sucker, pencil, paper, bandage, cough drop, mirror, nail clippers, hair brush, needle and thread- they were all tucked inside that cavernous leather bag. She always had change for the soda machine and also carried a silver dollar that she let me look at occasionally. She never left home without a compact and lipstick. And of course she had a little folder of photos so she could show anyone and everyone her grandchildren. I don’t remember everything Gran carried, but I do remember attempting once to carry her bag…and I couldn’t do it!
I look around when I’m out shopping and I see a lot of young women carrying only a phone and wallet, or a very tiny purse. I suppose times have changed and they don’t need anything larger. Motherhood may change that, or perhaps their children won’t require everything but the kitchen sink to get through the day. As for me…I guess I’ll keep carrying my basics for a few more years.