The other day while I was driving, my purse fell off the passenger seat when I hit the brakes and landed upside-down on the floor. No time to tidy it up at a red light, I blindly stuffed everything back inside it, appalled when my fingers brushed against something sticky. I haven't bothered to organize it in a while, and frankly, I'm a little frightened about what I might find inside. Yes, I am one of those women who drags the same old bag around year after year until the seams split or an uncapped pen leaks into the fabric. I'm the odd one at the party with a white tote bag draped over my shoulder in the middle of December. You might as well tape a sign on my back that reads, "BAD WITH PURSES!"
I hate buying new purses, and have little interest in swapping them out for other bags in various sizes and colors. Perhaps if I was the corporate type, I'd have enough purses and shoes to match all my color-coordinated outfits. But the truth is I work in the home, so there is no need to purchase a bag to match my bathrobe or another to match a pair of ratty shorts and a t-shirt with a ketchup stain on it ( "Excuse me Sir, does this purse come in the color of red splotches and sweat stains?). I own a simple, utility brown bag that matches nothing and therefore matches everything.... and is large enough to stuff half of my house into it. There might even be a kid or two inside. I've never understood women who are capable of managing several purses at one time, and am a bit envious of their ability to match their bags to their shade of toenail polish.
My purse is one of those special organizer bags that has millions of separate compartments like the squares in a shadow box. I'm convinced these bags were designed for women with Attention Deficit Disorder. I can pack all kinds of stupid stuff in my purse, like a half-eaten lollipop, an uncapped lipstick and a crumpled napkin from last month's garden club luncheon.
I'm slow to change, but I'll admit that when I'm forced to buy a new purse, I feel hopeful, like I've been given a second chance to organize my life and start all over again...as if the purse defines who I am. New purse, new me. The old bag is tossed into my closet, the graveyard for all my mismatched, outdated purses. This includes my baggy giraffe tote, a leopard print handbag, a gold, sequined purse that has seen better days and a tiny, black leather pouch that dates back to my college days when all I needed was a driver's license and a tube of lipstick to score a free drink at the bar.
I kept my cheetah print purse the longest, despite the holes in the lining where unknown amounts of makeup and coins have disappeared. Animal print bags used to be sexy. If I carried one around now, I'd look like a menopausal, middle age woman lugging around a dead zebra. Why I ever wanted a bag that resembled a large, exotic animal, I'll never know. Thank God I wasn't keen on elephants.
With the New Year only months away, I feel it is time to purge the clutter, start fresh and venture into the dark abyss of my organizer handbag that is not so organized. Some people feel that a woman's purse is a reflection of her housekeeping skills. The opposite is true for me; I keep a clean house but the contents of my purse look like the aftermath of a tornado. I don't care because there will be no unexpected visitors knocking at my door to crawl around inside my purse to judge my cleaning skills.
If my purse could talk, it would tell you that I am usually distracted while I am carrying it around on my shoulder and that I am negligent about throwing anything away. My purse doubles as my personal trash can. I just keep forgetting to clean it out. My husband once ventured inside my purse in search of an insurance card. Moments later he looked like a shell-shocked soldier returning from the battlefields.
Once I start fishing around inside the black hole that is my purse, the first thing that I encounter is a set of keys, most of which belong to my house. Unfortunately, there are also keys to houses of neighbors who have long since moved away and keys to a car I sold five years ago. There is also a single aspirin, three nickels, a tampon that has torn free from it's wrapper (tells you how long it has been since I've had a period!), a mini toothbrush that looks like it was used to scrub the grout in my bathroom tiles, one fuzzy, stray mint, expired credit cards, an old granola bar, cracked reading glasses, pens that have run out of ink, a deflated tube of sunscreen, dental floss, antacids and a receipt from Walt Disney World dated 2007. Oh, and that sticky stuff at the bottom of my purse? A melted chocolate bar from Halloween. I have plenty of the boring stuff in there, too---cosmetic bag, cell phone, hairbrush, wallet---the purse can hold anything, which is why I like it. I can stuff an extra pair of shoes in it, a change of clothes, a water bottle and enough food to last a week in the wilderness. I don't understand women who pay thousands of dollars on designer bags the size of a postage stamp. I'll keep my ugly, suitcase-size purse until it finally expires from neatness neglect. And then I'll buy another one just like it, which I promise will remain clean and organized...for at least the first month.