She stood in front of me in line, chatting with a man several years her senior. We were waiting to be let into Il Fornaio restaurant in San Francisco, for a luncheon with Mario Battali, celebrity chef. I recognized the man, a local restaurant critic.
She and I were both dressed in the uniform of big cities – black pants, black jackets, black shirts, black bags. I looked like an aging business woman. She looked hip. Her boot cut pants had two thin stripes of tiny white stitching down the middle of each leg. Fitted black t-shirt and cropped jacket that could fit in San Francisco or on a humanitarian trip with Bono to Africa.
I fixated on her bag. Mine was a black leather medium-sized satchel. Maybe indicated classy. More likely read as dull, does not take chances. Her bag was messenger bag material, but not messenger bag shape – a rectangle with the long sides horizontal. The sturdy strap rested on her shoulder and across her body. The bag sat low on her body, hitting her right knee. A cell phone compartment on the lower left side and three other compartments, two with zippers, one with a Velcro close. You could fit a laptop or a change of clothes in the main compartment. I strained to eavesdrop – was she saying she’d just returned from Europe?
I coveted the bag. Once home, I logged onto ebags.com, filtering out other bags until I found it. Not a bad price. I was tempted. But didn’t I already have several purses and tote bags? Buying this bag would be impulsive, not practical. I passed.
My family took a 16 day vacation to France. The bags I used worked great. I then started a new job commuting from Oakland to San Francisco. My black purse and outlet Coach black leather tote functioned well to bring work, books and food back and forth across the Bay Bridge.
About midnight one Friday, I found myself back on ebags.com. The young hip adventurous woman and her bag had stayed in my mind for 3 months. I’d just have another look. I looked. I bought.
When the bag arrived, I tore open the box and then left the bag in my closet for a week. Afraid it wouldn’t look the same on me. The following Sunday, I transferred the contents of my purse and my tote to this one functional and hopefully chic bag.
I adjusted the shoulder strap so the bag hit right above my knee. I checked myself out in a mirror, expecting disappointment. Can a bag really change you?
The bag looked great. My look was more contemporary. I swear it took five years off my age. And it’s functional. I love it and enjoy it every day. The unwitting and unknown kindness of a stranger helped me change my internal and external image of myself.
© 2013 Marianne Lonsdale