Margaret Thatcher, one of the preeminent leaders of the free world. Powerful, respected, memorable. I watched the biopic “The Iron Lady” recently and one thing struck me as outrageously odd. She carried a purse everywhere. I figured by time you reached that level of power and influence in your life that maybe, I don’t know, someone else could haul your stuff around for you. What does a world leader carry in her purse. Lipstick? Powder? Feminine hygiene products? Pictures of the kids? Smelling salts? A small caliper gun? Snacks?
Men get by with a few pockets. Granted there are all those mysterious hidden pockets in suit jackets that I’m envious of. That probably helps, a bunch. And occasionally they carry a briefcase. Or someone carries the briefcase for them. Of course they aren’t prepared for every single possible scenario that might happen to them in a day. No needle and thread, no granola bars, no bandaids, no juice boxes or acetaminophen or crayons. No. They manage to get through a day without packing around all the contingencies.
About three years ago I stopped using a purse.
This was pre-smart phone for me. I carried a tiny notebook, a small pen, my driver’s license, a bank card, some cash, my keys and my flip phone. That left one pocket empty. That pocket could hold lip balm, or some change, a tissue, or a small pack of gum or mints. Or it could stay empty.
This move left two hands free. And a mind free. Going without a purse let me enter a room and leave a room without wondering or worrying about my purse.
Where to put it, don’t forget it, is it safe.
The only thing I wonder about now is why I hauled around a purse for so many years.
With little kids it’s kind of a necessity to haul half your house hanging from your shoulder. I think that’s why I walk a little lopsided. My massage therapist (thank you Michael) says one leg is slightly shorter than the other. I never confessed to him that it was probably due to the bulldozer-sized purse I used to schlep around.
Somewhere in the diaper bag/purse phase I went back to college and adopted the ubiquitous backpack for keeping my on-the-go life going. Was that ever convenient. And heavy. Even now, when I travel, the backpack is an essential item for keeping chaos in check. But my pockets are still essential and well loved.
As the kids got older you’d think the purse would have gotten lighter. But I adopted an organizer system that consisted of hauling a ten-pound notebook everywhere I went. It was the paper version of a smart phone. If you needed info, I had info. I was one organized wonder woman in those days. Of course, my shoulder hurt, and sometimes my neck hurt too. But I was on a schedule, my kids were locked and loaded, life was under control.
Unless I misplaced my planner/organizer. Or needed my hands free. Or it slipped off my shoulder and got in the way. I called it my brain. That’s not so good.
But it was helpful and had its time and place in my life.
Here and now, all the what-ifs of a purse just don’t matter that much.
Three years ago pockets became all I needed. And I have stuck with it. Once the smart phone became part of the equation I was able to ditch the notebook and pen. And now the fourth pocket carries my ear buds for audio book opportunities or easy hands free phone conversations.
Wardrobe decisions come down to pockets more often than not. I really, really, really don’t want to haul a purse around anymore. Some may argue that filling your pockets ruins how your clothes look. Sure I’m not all sleek and smooth with stuff in my pockets, but then, I’m kinda lumpy and bumpy even without full pockets, so it’s no big deal.
Sure once in a while I’ll grab a bag, or purse, or a pack for something unusual. But mostly, it’s just me and my pockets.
It’s not for everybody. The style-conscious look at me like I’m certifiable, which may be true some days. The ultra-prepared can’t imagine going purse-less. Feels too out-of-control.
It’s all about the freedom and convenience for me.
Maybe it’s a trend that’ll catch on.
I think I maybe cart my bag around as a sort of female security blanket. The occasional time I have left it behind I feel almost naked and am constantly reaching for that left behind extension to my arm…