Sunday, March 25, 2012

We'll always have Madrid

or, The Handbag Breakup

It is with a sad heart that I write these words. My very first glamorous handbag, that I've had for nearly 10 years, and I, are over. I put it into the Oxfam donation bag last night.
It's been a long, slow breakup, a series of letdowns that culminated in the need to call it quits - the zipper went a year ago, and the mark on the handle just wouldn't come off. I felt a little scruffy with it on my arm. And, in fact, I kinda, sorta, bought a replacement for it last spring... That I knew it was coming didn't make it any easier. It's a handbag full of memories.

Tall Guy says that in fact, the bag and I have been done since I was 25, and I've been in denial. He says I have a problem letting go of things, and that if you've had something for 10 years, it's only natural that you need to replace it. This may be true, but it still makes me sad, especially when said thing is not completely destroyed or unusable (Tall Guy and my mother say, just because you still have something, doesn't mean you should keep using it, especially when said thing makes you look like a ragamuffin.)

"Buy a new one", Tall Guy says. Even, "I will buy you a new one". He is thinking, "Anything to get you to stop talking about this one!" "We'll look for one when I come," Tall Mom says. "It will be fun!" This is what they said about my threadbare well-loved winter coat, which they made me give up at Christmas. It was not fun, but I did find a new one in the end.
I bought this handbag when I was 17, on a student exchange to Madrid. It's from Mango. Ok, so it's no Louis Vuitton, but as an impressionable teen living in Europe for the first time, this was a sublime find.

It was my birthday, and I was with some friends (also Canadian exchange students). "It's so gorgeous outside, let's start celebrating right now", one said. So we snuck out of school went outside and soon found ourselves on Princesa, a great shopping street in Madrid. After spending time trying on outrageous outfits we were certain made us look "totally European" and buying one too many pairs of feather earrings (which I swear were really cool at the time!), we popped into Mango, which, to our student minds, was a most luxurious store. And there, perched on a dark wooden shelf in a cabinet with glass doors - you know it's fancy when it's behind glass, right? - lit by a tiny overhead light, sat the handbag.

And I had to have it. "Quiero ese bolso" - I want that bag, I said to the shop assistant. "Por favor."
She opened the cabinet and gently lifted it out. I whipped out some birthday money while she carefully wrapped it in tissue and put it into a paper carrier bag (Wow, a PAPER BAG! With rattan handles! How cool am I? Paper carrier bags don't happen every day in the Canadian shopping scene. Unfortunately, we're all about the plastic). 

The handbag and I had some fun times. We went shopping, dancing, on dates, to university classes, to cool restaurants... Yes, I could replace the zipper and re-edge the handles. I could send it for a serious dry clean, and try to pump in some new life. But what I will do is accept that our time together is over, and I'll move on. And while I hope someone will love it as much as I did, I know no-one will love it the way I did.

We'll always have Madrid


  1. This blog made me cry... but only because I was laughing so hard. This is so well written! I am sorry for your loss, and yes, we'll buy a new one in April!

  2. LOL! Brian would really appreciate it if I could be more like you....hanging onto things well past their life expectancy. :) So sorry for your loss. My sincere condolences!

  3. Thank you, I really am quite sad.

    Tall Guy, however, is quite pleased, and also relieved. He kept saying, "Close your bag! You're just asking to be pickpocketed!", to which I would reply, "IT WON'T CLOSE!". Which was followed by, "then stop using it and throw it away!"

    And until now, I just couldn't bear to do it.

  4. Oh i remember being beside that bag on many a trips... shopping, going to class.. this was a very sad thing to read. As a side note who says feather earrings arent still cool :)

  5. Awww, thanks! We DID have some grand adventures with that bag... And it's true, feather earrings ARE still cool!