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Eight years ago this month, I was putting away my crutches after surgery for a broken hip. During the six weeks I hobbled around downtown Chicago, I early on discovered that I needed a purse I didn’t have to carry. Cross bodies have never worked for me. And, being a perpetual student, I’ve always liked backpacks. Luckily, I found the perfect backpack purse, a Baggallini that the salesperson said airline hostesses had designed for maximum convenience.

Not so luckily, I’ve become addicted, if that’s possible, to that purse. Over the years, I’ve purchased at least two or three purses a year, on great sales, and come home excited. I empty the contents of my old one on the couch and start putting them into the new. Every time, I have left over stuff that does not fit, and the new purse goes back. It’s become so routine that my husband will say, “I wonder how long this one will last.” And, usually within an hour, I’m on my way back to the store with the return.

I started to catch on that my Baggallini and I might be inseparable for life. So, I often returned to the store where I bought it, but they never had a black one in stock. I kept thinking I should look for it online, but then also kept thinking I should not be stuck in my ways, and I should keep trying to find another style that would work.

The purse, you see, has every compartment a women needs. A band for lipstick, a band for a pen, many slots for credit cards (I haven’t carried a bulky billfold in years), room for a paperback or e-reader, two zippers inside for change or whatever, and two zippers on the outside, one in front and one in back under the straps. I can wear it like a backpack, or zip up the straps and sling it over a shoulder, or carry it with a small rounded loop at the top. Talk about versatile!


Due to my failure to find a suitable new style, I’ve carried this purse every day for nearly 3000 days, every season from winter’s zeroes to summer’s nineties and from dress occasions to casual. It has never let me down. It stands ready to go with me everywhere. It’s a must for strolling the city, shopping with hands free, or stuffing into a larger backpack if taking a class or traveling.

It has become a very good friend.

But the subtle sheen is starting to shine with wear and the leather straps are starting to fray. So what to do? Walking Michigan Avenue last week, I was passing the store where I bought it and thought, Maybe today will be my lucky day. And it was! There, among dozens of purses, was my lightweight, streamlined, functional friend in my favorite color of black. Without a wink, I bought it, told the salesman to skip the bag, and happily skipped home with the old purse on my back and the new one dangling from my fingers.



I announced my good luck to my husband. He didn’t even say, “I wonder how long this one will last.” He left to get the mail. I emptied the contents of my old purse on the couch and transferred them to the new. When he came back, I, feeling really smug, announced,  “For once, there’s a place for everything.”

He shook his head. Disbelief? Relief? “Good for you. I’m glad you found it.”

Indeed, happiness can be a woman’s purse.