I made a little summer resolution this week and wrote about it for last week’s Charlotte Observer Style section. You can check it out below (do you need to make this resolution, too):
“You should get it,” my husband told me.
I shook my head no. I couldn’t even fathom the idea of buying something so impractical at that price.
“I can’t,” I told him. “I just can’t spend that money on it.”
It was a handcrafted artisan bag, crafted out of silk and dark denim with embroidered tropical birds and flowers that flirted with me in a small boutique in my native Puerto Rico years ago. It sounds awful. I swear it’s not. The price tag, however, was another story. It was a couple hundred dollars. I don’t spend that much on an outfit, so I certainly couldn’t spend it on a bag.
Later, my husband went back.
“You never get excited about anything,” he explained when he gave me the bag. “I just wanted you to have it since you liked it so much.”
In my hands, the bag felt like pressure, kryptonite. Now, I owned this beautiful piece, and it was my job to keep it beautiful. Me, who looks down halfway through the day and can tell from the stains on my clothes what color pen I was using, what I had for lunch and what color lipstick whoever I hugged was wearing.
I smiled and thanked my husband profusely and then carried the bag gingerly back to our hotel room.
“Don’t ruin it,” I told myself. Miraculously, I carried it onto the plane (I couldn’t bear the idea of crushing it in my luggage) and off again without anything landing on the silk. Back home, I slid it back into its protective sleeve and then I shelved it – where it has remained ever since, except for one brave day in 2007 when I took it out for about an hour and then panicked and returned home with it, relieved that it had survived an hour out of the house.
I am as far from a helicopter parent as it comes, and, yet, I am a helicopter bag owner. I live in so much fear of what could happen to this bag that nothing happens to it. No one sees it. It’s a sketch from the theater of the absurd happening in my own house. And the thing is I know there are others like me.
How many of us have a prized possession that we covet so much we just can’t bear to enjoy it because enjoying it might shorten its lifespan? And, yet, the possession itself says so much about us or brings us so much joy that we’re denying ourselves a bit of pleasure with our resistance to it. Maybe it’s something you bought for a special occasion and, yet, the occasion special enough for it has never come.
This summer, I am making a resolution to delight rather than to deny.
Rather than live in fear that I will ruin something, I am going to enjoy what I have.
This past year has been dark for many of us and full of plenty of deprivation. While I certainly can’t go out and buy a handbag anytime soon, I can choose to enjoy what I have because surely dust is far worse for silk than fresh air.