Monday, January 25, 2016

My Life as Described by a Purse

We all have that one drawer, filled to capacity with all of the odds and ends you cannot find a home for in the kitchen.  I actually have a few of those catch-all drawers in various rooms of my house, and every time I open one and root through it looking for something, I vow that I will come back and clean it out; but alas, that never happens.

The "coat" closet in the front of our home is also a giant catch-all drawer of sorts.  It has raincoats and winter jackets, scarves, hats, gloves, shoes, book bags, string bags, 15 reusable grocery bags (so I have a little thing for shopping bags), swim caps, goggles, girl scout patches, yoga mat, old curtains, dog leashes, and so on and so on.  After logging off from work today, I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to purge that closet.  Due to the insane amount of snowfall this past weekend, we were still stranded in the house, so I had nowhere to go and nothing else to do.  Perfect!


After pulling everything except the jackets and coats out of the closet, I was immediately overwhelmed.  Honestly, I wanted to shove it all back into the closet, shut the door and walk away, but I was determined to finish at least one project during the aftermath of the Blizzard of 2016. I threw away old purses, lots of papers and receipts, found missing earings, filled a bag with scarves and hats to donate, and found a home for everything.  I stood in front of the closet, hands on my hips, feeling outrageously successful, until I saw something hanging in the back of the closet, hidden from sight by a jacket.  I reached in, grabbing the leather strap, curiously pulling it out of the closet, finding that it belonged one of my favorite old purses.

I do not own very many purses.  When I buy one, I tend to use it until it falls apart.  This purse is one that I would use forever if I could.  There is nothing special about it and, truth be told, it's very plain.  I opened it to discover that it was still full of "stuff".  Not just stuff, but pieces of my life that were sort of preserved in this purse.  I slowly began to empty the contents onto the table and ended up sitting down to go through it all.

There were plenty of items that I threw away, like old chap-sticks, Splenda packets, a couple of pieces of Dentyne gum, expired allergy medicine, old cough drops, and a migraine pill (SCORE!!); however, the rest was like finding a treasure trove of memories.  Each time my husband heard me say "Oh wow" or "Look at this", he would ask if I found gold doubloons.

There were coins from a trip to Panama for work and a handmade key chain I purchased from a local market while there.  Although I did not get much of an opportunity to site see in that beautiful country, I was able to catch a ride to the Panama Canal and watch a ship go through. Receipts from a Bonefish Grill restaurant in Independence, Ohio, and one from a sushi restaurant in San Francisco, both work sponsored travel and both were trips spent with a co-worker whose company I truly enjoyed.


There were three tickets from a West Virginia University (WVU) Football game my husband and our daughter attended, as well as a WVU Parents Club pin.  We're not really football fans, but our son was in the WVU Marching Band and it was the only way we ever got to see him perform at college.  Also found in this sweet time capsule were USA Swimming Disqualification Forms.  I was a Swim Official for our summer swim team as well as for the high school swim team.   I hurt my back this year and was unable to be an official, so it was sweet to have that memory.  I'm still not sure why I had those forms in my purse, but I was glad to see them.

There were ID cards for the American Red Cross (A Positive) and Be The Match bone marrow donor.  As much as I'd love to be a regular blood donor, I cannot since my iron is usually too low.  I'd love to be able to help someone with the Be The Match program, but I do not believe that will ever happen.  I think of those cards as good visual reminders to always try to help people.  Always.  In little ways, big ways, unseen ways. I've kind of lost sight of that lately, so what a better way for the universe to throw it back in my face!

Last, there was a small flier for Master Gardener training. I did not go, probably because I was over-committed and did not have time.  Gardening is something that my husband loves to do, and he is good at it.  I also enjoy working in the garden, but I'm not nearly as gifted in the green thumb category as he is. I wanted to take the class so I could help him more than I do in our large garden. I have come to realize that working in the garden is my husband's Zen place.  It's where he loves to spend his afternoons and weekends when the weather is warm enough.  I don't need to take a gardening class; he appreciates the little ways I do help in the garden.

I am so thankful I cleaned out that catch-all closet today.  That plain purse is quite an accurate representation of my life over the past few years, and it has allowed me to reflect on my life in a very positive way.  I am humbled and grateful for what I have, which is worth so much more than anything gold doubloons could buy.