No way, handbag

By: 
Sara Beth Wald

I have lots of reasons for not carrying a purse:
It hurts my shoulder.
I accumulate too much junk and end up sticking my hand into something putrid and unidentifiable at the bottom of the bag.
It makes me feel low-maintenance. I pride myself on not needing to carry lipstick or a hairbrush or a second form of identification.
A purse feels like a noose to me, almost claustrophobic.
But here’s the thing...
My shoulders often hurt anyway. Apparently my unseen baggage is way heavier than any overloaded handbag.
I accumulate junk anyway. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve carried necessary papers, water bottles, sunscreen, snacks for my kids, and yes... even a hairbrush... around in a plastic grocery bag or an acrylic tote my husband received as a freebie when he joined a gym a few years ago.
Since I don’t use a smartphone (that’s a conversation for another time), I still use an actual paper planner to organize my life.
I end up loading it up with so many flyers, permission slips, receipts, and sticky notes that it bulges to the point of explosion.
On top of that, I’m one of those weird writer types:
My life is littered with loose scraps of napkin with column ideas, and clippings from newspapers and magazines that I pilfered from a doctor’s office waiting room thinking someday it would serve as inspiration. In reality all of this eventually ends up thrown out in the biannual purge when I can no longer take the paper chaos.
It would make more sense to invest in a large, high quality leather satchel that would endure being thrown into the passenger seat of my car when I am racing to get to work and school on time; that would just look better with age and half-eaten suckers stuck to the lining.
This dream satchel is on my list of purchases if I should ever win the lottery. Not necessarily because I can’t afford it now, but because I like to martyr myself and endure unnecessary suffering, and also because joking about winning the lottery justifies my purchasing of weekly tickets (which is one of my favorite extravagances.)
(It is not lost on me that if I saved up all the money I’m spending on lottery tickets, in a few years I’d have enough to buy any satchel I wanted. We all need our diversions, and my four tickets a week are one of mine.)
It has come to my attention recently that not carrying a purse does not prevent me from accumulating junk. It just thins the junk out, so I don’t have to sort it as often.
If I carried a bag, it would eventually get so heavy and difficult to navigate that I’d be forced to clean it out in order to function.
This week, at an important meeting in which it would have benefited me to seem like an organized person, I found myself digging through receipts folded into tiny squares searching for a phone number in my tiny wallet that fits little more than my driver’s license. Two sets of keys were continually falling on the floor (because I also chose to wear pants with no pockets). I apologized as my planner burst forth with papers.
You’d think after this humbling experience I’d have decided once and for all to invest in a decent handbag.
But purses are just too expensive, and bad for my back.

An archive of The Sara Beth Times can be found at www.sarabethtimes.com.

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