Today I bought a Cole Haan bag. Very unElizabethan, yes, but to my defense I didn't know what a Cole Haan bag was until recently. And really, I felt as though I owed it not only to myself but to the bag itself to purchase it. There it was on the shelf. From $550 to $360 to $150 and then, a desperate $75. I felt an absolute obligation to buy the clearly unwanted thing even though really I could use the money for something I really need but hey, I now own something in a dust bag with a price tag that makes my heart skip a beat. I've taken it out a few times today, turned it, inspected it and shook my head, "Five hundred fifty? But why?"
I'd like to say that the purchase was hinged on consumer genius, a frugality that in the end resulted in a quality buy worth nearly 90% less than its original price. But the truth is, ever since my boss bought me an expensive bag beyond what I considered morally acceptable for my birthday, I've had an insatiable, ungodly desire to buy another one. Those that know me will gasp at this confession because I have never, ever been this type of woman. I have never been moved by material things and Ann Taylor Loft has been the closest designer tag I've ever owned. And now, here I am, pursuing Elizabeth yet physically craving for a designer bag that I will stuff with old phone bills and gas receipts. Nevermind shaming Elizabeth, I'm ashamed of myself just writing about it!
I knew I would buy a bag today. I knew it by ten o'clock last night when I hung my head down and told my husband in a restrained, soft voice that I have never done anything for myself. That all my life everything I've done has been career related, nothing personal that's centered on fun. I work two jobs, I'm cramming for my boards to get certified in behavior analysis and I'm flipping through the Princeton Review Book everyday at lunch to prepare for the July GRE in hopes to get into a PhD program by this fall. And because I need my own laptop so I can stop monopolizing on everybody else's, I took a third job to start supervising therapists who provide behavior treatment for children with autism. It's actually a job I really enjoy but I also enjoy coming home by the time the kids arrive from school but--I need a laptop and these therapists need supervision. It's a win-win situation. I'm not sure how this whole rant on my busy schedule turned into a pity-party that can only be pacified by a designer bag but somewhere in my diseased mind I concluded that a good purchase would be my cure. And really, what a good purchase it was and I'm quite giddy just writing about it! I am aware however that I cannot continue this behavior. The last thing I would want to become is a possible candidate for a reality TV intervention and I'm trying to be Elizabeth, the woman who would never have hung her head down while fiddling her own violin.
I felt more relaxed today. I got up early enough for decent prayer, stretched far enough to hold onto my shin for ten seconds and straightened my hair on a rainy day (I skipped only once on doing my hair this week, the only day it did not rain). After work I ran to the the post office to send out some documents for my certification, got my coveted bag, studied at Starbucks, did some food shopping then ended my night with good company at a small, Pakistani restaurant. While there my husband and brother-in-law examined the bag my boss had given me for a gift. It had nicks and scratches already. How could something worth a couple of hundreds of dollars not withstand being pulled, tossed and dropped?
"You're supposed to treat it with care," my sister said.
I nodded in agreement. I needed a bag that I can just carry, worry-free. A bag fit for my busy lifestyle. "A coach, maybe?" I said and then I laughed. I was tainted, my sister had said. Once I experienced quality, I was done for. My husband interjected that I will still not pay for it. I may buy designer bags but there was no way I would ever pay the price.
And that's true. I am far too sensible, far too practical, far too poor to do such a thing.
I wonder if Elizabeth would have ever bought a Cole Haan?