A new identity? It’s in the bag

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Traveling light isn’t my bag. Literally.

Instead, I must carry upon my person at all times any number of items “just in case” I might need them. It’s in the genes.

Women are the bag ladies of the species. Handbags, diaper bags, tote bags. Men, meanwhile, foray into life with a wallet and a roll of mints.

Bag ladies in waiting. My daughter’s size 2T Easter dress came with a tiny little matching handbag. For what? Her lipstick and car keys?

In my day we waited until we were at least 12 to become bag ladies. Never mind that at such a tender age we had no car keys, credit cards, mobile phones, or Dayrunners, to place into our huge pastel purses. What we did have were our jumbo sized cans of industrial strength hair spray – without which we wouldn’t have survived the grueling trek from algebra to home ec. with our gravity-defying coiffures intact.

Thus is born another generation of ladies who clutch.

Regardless of our roots, we enter adulthood with plenty of baggage. I myself have been owned by a giant portfolio bag that doubles as carry-on luggage. This bag says “I am a multi-tasking woman on the go” and overflows with everything from paperwork and reference texts to a water bottle, work-out shoes, multiple cell phones, and a copy of “People” for some downtime.

You can’t be mistaken for a slacker carrying this baby. If only because it’s darned hard work just lugging the thing around.

Free and uneasy. At other times I have aimed for a “free spirit, unfettered by materialism” bravado. Carrying only the tiniest of little bags that was not much more than a wallet on a string, I felt like a minimalist.

Who needs diapers and a house key on hand? I was ready to rush off at a moment’s notice with only my ATM card and a lip balm to sustain me. This being all that would fit in my teeny wallet purse.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the confidence to carry this off. A woman who flits through life nearly purse-less is akin to the saucy type who would appear topless on the beach. There is a certain admiration for her sass, perhaps, but mostly you just whisper to your friends that YOU wouldn’t be caught dead…

Rugged. Then there was the ill-fated “backpack” phase. This is when the perfect little black leather backpack boasting a compartment for each individual item from calculator to lipstick entered my life.

This bag was going to revamp my whole image. With a strap and a prayer I was going to become organized, yet charmingly rugged. A regular living, breathing Ralph Lauren ad.

And what could be more rugged than finding yourself on an impromptu hike across the Sahara secure in the knowledge that your library card and a coupon for 50 cents off spaghetti sauce is at hand?

Coach, tote, strappy, or clutch. If you are a male, you have no idea what I just said. This is definitely a girl thing. Before any important event we will carefully coordinate a handbag to the occasion. Do we want a sweet little envelope style clutch that is “so Jackie Kennedy c. 1962″ or a tiny valise that just screams “Grace Kelly?” Perhaps a stylish satchel to carry the camera, hankies, and industrial strength tear- resistant mascara?

So many decisions, so little time. Women understand this.

A man, on the other hand, will put on the same suit he wears to everything and think of exactly two things. “Are these socks navy or black?” and “is it a cash bar?”

But boy, let me tell you, if that man finds himself without a Band-aid, lip balm, pocket comb, pepper spray, mini-tape recorder, hand lotion, double-stick tape, hair spray, diaper wipes, or a pen, he better not coming running to me.

(Kymberly Foster Seabolt currently lugs around a bag she calls the “Command Center.” She welcomes reader comments via kseabolt@epohi.com or c/o P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460.)

About the Author

Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless. More Stories by Kymberly Foster Seabolt

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