Joined: 21 December 2008
Reflections- A Katrina Hurricane Handbag Story
At 24 many people would say I'm still too young to look back and reflect on my life. Yet, the last five months of my life have been nothing but reflection. I haven't felt like I was living, but simply existing, trying to make sense of my world post-Hurricane Katrina.
After recovering the few things from my New Orleans home that were salvagable, I began to rummage through them and see what I was left with. Not much was saved, but one thing that was salvaged was a collection of scrapbooks and diaries that my mother kept for me from my childhood. Sitting in my mother's home in rural Texas, I reflected that I had lost my business, my home. I gotten divorced and had no sense of what I was going to do with my life from this point on. So with nothing better to do, I began to look through a scrapbook where excited mothers fill in the blanks, answering questions about their children. Toward the back of the book I saw it, my mother's bold handwriting in black ink where she wrote in the answer to this question:
Child's favorite toy: PURSE
I couldn't help but laugh, smile and cry all at the same time. I nodded my head in agreement and recalled the last handbag purchase I'd made prior to the storm (and two of the bags that I took with me when I evacuated): a beautiful shredded silk watercolor Moo Roo evening bag with dragonfly broach and a leather embossed olive green barrel bag, also a lovely Moo Roo creation (both obtained at obscenely low prices during the Moo Roo end of season sample sale). I remembered how excited I'd been when I made the purchases and how I opened the boxes like a child on Christmas morning when they arrived in the mail.
It was at this point, though, that I realized that a handbag very dear to me was missing. I turned my home upside down both before and after the storm, making sure that everything of value was accounted for (either as destroyed or salvagable). Never once did I see the bag in question. It was the ivory beaded handbag given to me by my grandmother, the very bag I carried on my wedding day. Yes, I am divorced now, but we remain close friends and it was a beautiful little bag with a lot of meaning to me. The bag was something that my grandmother had shared with me, something I cherished and carried on a significant day in my life. I still cannot explain the sorrow I felt, and still feel, to have lost that bag. Thankfully, however, I have pictures of me holding it, this bag on my wedding day. Pictures that I look back at and smile longingly with tears in my eyes. I cry because I know my grandmother is aging, know that every little thing from her will become a fond memory and my connection to her once she's gone. This brings me full circle to wonder: What will my grandchildren cherish about me? What will people cherish and remember about the "old" New Orleans?
Now back in New Orleans, I continue my reflections as I've settled into a cramped, too expensive apartment. The same apartment my sister stayed in with me while visiting last week. Ironically, I was thinking about the four previous purse experiences that stuck out in my mind (my favorite "toy" being a purse, my grandmother's ivory beaded bag, my two Moo Roo purchases) just the day before my sister suggested we do some shopping before she left town. I didn't set out to buy anything specific that day, but somehow I came home with four brand new handbags. No, they weren't the over-the-top expensive bags like I used to collect, but they were all lovely and the first I'd purchased since Hurricane Katrina.
I continue to consider what I want to do with my life and even though I have no answer yet, I do feel in some odd way like I've begun to live again. Maybe it was my sister visiting and lifting my spirits, maybe it is the new job I got this week, but really, REALLY, wasn't it the purses?
When I think about it, purses have, in an odd way, reflected my life, all the way to these new purchases that are in many ways indicative of my beloved city. No, we aren't completely put back together yet, but we are trying and we are moving forward. Maybe these new bags aren't the most expensive, but they are cute and they are mine. They lifted my spirits and in a strange way made me feel like I was living a normal life again for awhile...just shopping for handbags like it was nothing and life was sane again. Even though my company is gone and my life will never quite be the same, there will be life again. It has changed, but it will go on and maybe someday I will have a daughter who will like to play with my handbags, maybe years after that I will have a granddaughter who will walk up the aisle on her wedding day with a purse I gave her, but whatever happens in life, I know that it, along with my love of handbags and the city of New Orleans, WILL go on. (By: ReplicaEstore Designer Handbag Studio)
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