Yesterday, I bought a new handbag.
Not just any new handbag.
A beautiful handbag, in mint green and pink – soft leather, no less – and equipped both with the standard handle for easy carrying, and a longer strap when over-the-shoulder seems like a better idea. Quite aside from the eye-catching, stunning colours, every stitch is exquisitely crafted, and each pocket placed with absolute perfection. This handbag cannot be discounted as a minor accessory, and is certainly not easily forgettable. It demands attention, justifiably so.
Alternatively: this handbag is a gift that just can’t wait to start giving, and on this momentous occasion I’m the lucky consumer expertly poised to receive.
(Well, maybe not expertly. That’s a bit of a stretch.)
Buying a new handbag probably doesn’t sound remotely impressive, and certainly not exciting. As for “momentous,” well, that’s surely a word that we should be reserving for genuinely fantastic events, such as winning something other than a rather woebegone plant on the raffle, or managing to finish a walk in England without getting rained on. Not, under any circumstances, the purchase of something as profoundly commonplace as a handbag, at least not for anyone remotely sensible.
If any aspect of purchasing a new handbag is momentous (which is of course entirely dubious), it would surely be so in a way that should rightfully only be celebrated privately, among like-minded people, and with some degree of appropriate embarrassment. It may also be necessary for that small, exclusive group to convince themselves that they do remain utterly sensible, irrespective of any handbags that they may or may not have purchased.
But it was, in fact, a momentous occasion, as buying any handbag has the potential to be.
Let me explain.
You see (or I like to think you see, even if you probably don’t, and would rather be spared the hassle), this was in fact an expensive handbag.
No, not one of those.
Well, perhaps a little like one of those.
It wasn’t quite expensive enough to merit a panicked “it was an investment, really,” or even my particular favourite: “You’ll never see another like it!” It was, however, certainly pricey enough that when my bank statement finally drops with painful merriment through my door, I’ll be offered a clear opportunity to reflect on my poor decisions, and maybe even develop buyer’s remorse, should I be so inclined.
(I am, on occasion.)
It was, as I like to think some people, somewhere, for some reason, say: an Expense.
As such, it can, under those somewhat dubious circumstances, be considered to be a luxury item, and my purchase of it at least some indication that I have Made It, whatever “it” is, and whatever “making it” happens to involve. This is, in simpler – and slightly less ridiculous – terms, an achievement. By purchasing an item that cannot be considered to be a necessity – although it was entirely necessary to me – I have clearly reached a previously elusive point of independence.
Additionally, as a buyer of handbags, as a pose to strange little ornaments or fridge magnets, I have been elevated to a group of people characterised by their interest and commitment to stylishness and fashion. A door has been opened; a new way to live revealed, and I stand poised on the threshold, finally in possession of the keys to the castle.
This is important for many reasons, which will undoubtedly differ in each situation. The purchase of the first luxury handbag is ultimately a profoundly private experience, even if the mechanics happen publicly, defined by its considerable uniqueness. For me, it was the sense of achievement, the tangible proof that I had crossed some invisible boundary into a lifestyle previously beyond my reach that was the most important aspect (after the beauty of the handbag itself, of course). It heightened my self-esteem, proved my abilities, and gave me something to focus on for the future.
(Do I sound sensible yet?)
Honestly, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, because you might just be surprised. (At the very least, you’ll own a new handbag, which in my experienced estimation is never a bad thing.)
Yesterday, I walked into a shop to buy a new handbag.
When I left the shop, handbag on my arm, everything had changed. The world, in which handbags that I could suddenly afford were made and bought, seemed a brighter place, and my position in it vastly improved and on all accounts really rather positive. Believing in myself no longer seemed so difficult, and I had clear proof that doing such wasn’t entirely unfounded.
Do not underestimate the power of the handbag.
It didn’t matter whether I had one handbag or twenty lying in wait to leap onto my arm, and it didn’t matter whether I spent more or less than average. The point was that I had been able to afford a luxury item, entirely on the back of my own efforts. I had shown that I could achieve in my chosen field, and that I was capable not only of achieving, but also of succeeding.
That is why buying my new handbag was a momentous occasion – it marked an important stage of my life.
Buying a luxury item isn’t a solution, and it can easily make the buyer feel worse, not better. But it is a valid option, and under the right circumstances, it can have the desired effect.
Today, I’ll probably buy teabags. I won’t emerge a better, changed person from the experience, transformed and reinforced by fresh belief in myself and in my abilities, but at least I’ll have tea.
In the blogger’s spare time, she is:
Reading: Shadow Warrior by Chris Bunch
Watching: AMC’s Preacher
Listening to: The Fool – Ryn Weaver