So recently, my durable old purse has started to come apart; it’s probably been a good three or four years of hard use on this one. I’ve carried the same kind of purse since about 1996: an un-issued WW2 Russian cartographer’s case. They’re compact, wicked tough, have nice little compartments for papers and sketchbooks and pens and pencils, and are relatively easy to find on eBay or from military surplus stores. An old friend gave me my first one after he found it at a gun and knife show, and I carried it backpacking across Ireland and for many years afterwards until it gave out. I tried a couple different bags to replace it, including canvas versions of the same bag, and was dissatisfied until I found another one just like the first. SInce then I’ve gone through two more — one generously gifted by another pair of friends who spotted them in a catalog — and just keep snapping them up when the one I’m currently carrying shows signs of decrepitude. I’ve even got a spare in the closet right now — and to be honest, I’ve kept the corpses of the last two purses, because I’m hoping I can repurpose something awesome out of them. They’re just that sturdy (it’s usually been the edges that give; the rest of the bag’s fine. The strap on my current purse is a transplant from the previous one, because it was so soft and buttery.) and the form factor’s exactly what I need in a bag.
Lately, though, I’ve been bothered by the single-compartment design; I’m constantly digging around in my bag to get to stuff at the bottom, fishing around for tiny jars of lip balm to feed my Carmex addiction, or taking five minutes to unload and reload just to get to my business cards. Getting anything out while I’m driving is a nightmare. So I started looking for a new purse, an ideal purse. A purse that wouldn’t be too big, or too heavy, but would also carry a lot of gear, and maybe even cart around my comics supplies so I wouldn’t need a separate bag.
I have this thing for bags. Not purses, but bags. If there’s one thing that can get me to open my wallet for a big-ticket item, it’s a luxurious hunk of man-bag made out of cow. When I started at my current company, I splurged and bought myself a gorgeous shoulderbag from Custom Hide as a present to myself, something I knew I’d use forever. It’s such a great bag, and I use it as my “purse” whenever I’m travelling and I need a big old carryon that I can use to haul a lot of gear and a change of clothes. I also figured I’d use it for a laptop bag when I finally got a laptop. Unfortunately, when I did get the laptop, it was wee. A micro-lappy, almost a netbook. It doesn’t exactly rattle around in there, but it’s way more bag than I need for daily use. And it clocks in at five pounds empty, so it’s not exactly lightweight.
I thought about getting one of these beautiful satchels — (the price tag’s staggeringly high, but it’s a cost-per-use thing. I know I could get ten years out of that bag, just like I know I’ll get ten years, at least, out of my CH bag. It’s an investment.) but it’s right back to the digging-around-in-the-main-compartment issue.
So I turned to my favorite site in all the world, Etsy.
And I found my dream purse. It’s made of recycled tweed suit coats. I convoed the artist and she made it to my specifications — a dark-brown inside to hide the inevitable spills and inkblots, just a smidge bigger than my lappy, and just barely big enough to hold my comics originals. It has nice little pocketses for all my stuff so I can get to it easily. It’s lightweight, but very, very well put-together. The strap’s very sturdy and is held together with nice brass hardware. The lappy compartment’s padded well, so I won’t have to bother with a sleeve. Best of all, it feels compact, nice, small — so I can lug a lot of gear around with me and not feel like I’ve got this enormous suitcase. It just all fits in there. I’m thrilled, honestly. Paired with this sweet wallet I got a few weeks ago, I feel downright girly.
I think I might be a girl. With a
bag purse fixation. Still not sure what to make of this new development.