Dear Lucy, my handbag is more confident than me.
I didn’t mind at first, letting it put its best foot forward whilst I followed with my less best knee. In situations where I felt less confident – almost daily – my handbag acts as a buffer between me and that experience. Slowly I catch up with my handbag much the way your breath catches up with your skin when you go in the cold sea.
But now it seems to have got a bit too big for my reluctant boots. It barges through queues to the front, me trailing behind, embarrassed, apologetic. It re-arranges itself into the foreground of any situation, “look at me!” it seems to cry. It acts as though we are a fully co-ordinated affair even when I’m in jeans, a jumper and socks that’d don’t match.
It has changed colour and material too, whilst the shape remains. It used to be soft, tanned leather, now it has a firm structure and is red and shiny. It’s handsome alright, but not what I would choose. My lap enjoys the new bag more than my shoulder, it’s a pickle.
Perhaps it’s my mother’s genes, the ones that are more socially feral than my mother’s other good qualities. Are they finding a way out despite my best efforts to keep them hidden, pushed down deep with a long arm? Me, no longer in control of what stays in and what comes out. Mother tourettes. Her genes ‘will out’.
So one day I decided to follow my bag’s lead. I dressed in my most confident of clothes and highest of heels and stomped around London feeling entitled and important. I shouted at people instead of apologising when they get in my way. I didn’t worry what anyone else thought.
My handbag was mortified. I was released.