We've all heard about the "it" bag -- the gaudy, blingy, overpriced-but-I've-got-to-have-it bag of the moment.
Your attitude toward the "it" bag may depend on your value system, budget, and/or personal political philosophy. To you, "it bags" may be odious symbols of excess and greed. Or, they may be shameful temptations, awakening deeply hidden desires. They might be valued wardrobe basics or temporary flings. You may own one, several, or none.
For the record, I've never owned an "it" bag. I am way, way, WAY too cheap. And even if I weren't, I'd be too worried about damaging an expensive status handbag. Coffee spillage happens, you know, to say nothing of the toxic layer of lint, paper clips, cough drops and gum wrappers that always seems to spring up at the bottom of my handbags. However, I do love bags. All kinds of bags. I am always looking at new bags -- floppy totes, classy satchels, you name it.
Fortunately, when it comes to bags, it takes very little to please me. There is absolutely no other explanation for this bag.
Yes, it's a cheap cotton tote bag. Yes, it's from a bookstore. We know that because it has a nerdy, book-centric slogan on the back:
That's right: Books you don't need, in a place you can't find. This bag comes from a wonderful bookstore, hidden deep in the woods of Western Massachusetts. Perversely, though, I rarely carry it in Massachusetts.
When do I carry it? Why, when I visit relatives in Southwest Florida, of course. How is it possible that, in a fairly tony beach town filled with sophisticated, well-dressed people, I feel impossibly chic carrying this bag?
I know this bag is not impossibly chic. I mean, OK, it's black. But the chic-itude ends there. Yet I love, love, LOVE to carry this bag in South Florida resort towns.
Maybe there's some part of me that wants to wear a big, glowing sign that says, "Yes, I love it here, but I am not from here. I am from the great frozen North, where we get lost in the woods looking for bookstores because it gets dark at 4:30! So yes, I have white, pasty skin, but I am very well-read! Do not judge me!"
Maybe I love it because it's the anti-beach bag. It's not made of straw. It's not in a stereotypical, bright, beachy color. It's black and white! Plain cotton! Unexpected! And it folds down to nothing, to be packed in a suitcase!
Maybe I love it because it's so lightweight and easy to carry, while also having room for everything you need. And I DO mean everything. In this bag, I have carried the following:
- 1 water bottle,
- 2 cans of sunscreen spray (because one always runs out, and you get no advance warning),
- one novel, suited to beachside reading,
- my wallet, because I might want to do some post-beach shopping,
- one ziplock bag filled with essential beauty items (lip gloss, hair ties, and eye drops, among them),
- not one, but TWO beach towels,
- an assortment of beach-munching snacks,
- a hat to block the sun,
- an overshirt and/or beach coverup,
- a skirt to change into after leaving the beach, and
- any incidental items that I happen to purchase while strolling through quaint, trendy beachside town.
Honest to God, the bag expands to fit whatever I want to put in it. And it never seems to get too heavy! When I take items out, the bag seems to shrink, so it never seems too large to carry, even with few items.
I love this bag. And carrying it to the beach -- followed by post-beach cute town strolling, shopping, and iced-coffee sipping--just makes me happier than words can express.
Yes, I know, it might not just be the bag. It might be my location. It might be the fact that I am, miraculously, spending time in a place where palm trees grow in January. It might be the fact that I am, even more miraculously, not at work. It might be the fact that, when I carry this bag, I have the freedom and flexibility to walk from beach to town, moving from sunbathing to shopping to restaurant dining, simply adding and subtracting items from the bag as I go.
But I think it's also the bag.
Maybe I should try carrying the bag to work, just to see if it puts me in a relaxed frame of mind.
Nah. I don't want to break the spell of the uniquely joyful, beach-strolling vacation bag. I need to save this bag for occasions worthy of it. I need to make sure that, whenever I grab this bag, I immediately associate it with the feeling of shuffling along in flip-flops, fresh from the beach, sun and breeze tickling my bare shoulders, hair flying everywhere, and still feeling pretty enough to waltz into a cute cafe or restaurant and linger awhile. Pretty enough because the sun gives me a warm, glowing-from-within, free-spirited feeling that cannot be replicated by any cosmetic product known to humanity.
It's a magic bag. That must be it.