Love Affair with a New Purse [Secret Life of an Expat]

Before I got to Paris, I was never much of a purse person. I liked something with good pockets and a nice shape, and the most I remember spending on a purse was $50 for a marked down Nine West at Macy’s.

In Paris, I made a friend who had a beautiful purse collection, and I got bored with the Nine West. Mandarina Duck was the only cool company I knew of, so I bought my first semi expensive (i.e. more than 100 euros) purse from them. It was functional with good pockets and enough leather to look a little bit fancy. It made me feel like a grown up.

We were happy together. But then… I don’t know. The little swath of suede became polished and small rips appeared in the fabric. The purse was letting itself go, and my eye started to wander.

Gerard Darel, I thought. It’s what all the ‘it’ girls have, and I’m an it girl, right? Well, no, but once I got the Gerard Darel 24 hour bag under my skin, it wouldn’t let go. I could be working through a perfectly normal Tuesday afternoon and then find myself staring at the Gerard Darel website without knowing how I got there. I would spend hours examining the colors and prices, even though they never changed. This went on for months, but the bag cost twice the amount of Mandarina Duck. Not expensive for a designer leather purse, but not cheap either.

We finally met and had coffee, me and the Gerard Darel 24 hour bag, but it turned out we didn’t click. The blue looked better online and the bag didn’t close at the top. I would have been settling.

To console me, my friend introduced me to someone new. Abaco Paris. Abaco was classy and funky at the same time. Slouchy and zippery, with that perfect length strap that you can hold in your hand or fit snugly under your arm. Apparently its colors didn’t wear off and the leather held up better than Gerard Darel’s.

Abaco was harder to stalk because I couldn’t find it at Printemps, and the prices aren’t listed on their website. Christmas shopping at Le Bon Marché, I finally got to meet the Abaco line in person. I chose my new stalking victim. The cheapest one they had, of course, but it was more expensive than the Gerard Darel.

But then I became sentimental. Maybe Mandarina Duck and I could make it work. Through sickness and in health and all that, right? There was really nothing wrong with our relationship, I was just being… fickle. Teary eyed, I confided in my friend, how my heart was torn between my reliable old companion and my sexy new crush.

“Wait until the January sales,” she said, so I focused on the holidays and put Abaco out of my mind. I was happy to spend Christmas with Mandarina Duck, we’re like family, even if the old thing was looking ragged.

A whole month passed, but yesterday afternoon I found myself staring at the website for Le Bon Marche. Even though it was February, the January sales were still on. I headed for the train.

After an hour and two more trains, I stood before a beautiful, but beautiful lamb hide bag. Reduced 50% from its original, luxurious, I could never afford, price.

Mandarina Duck began to weep at my side. I knew its heart was breaking as it watched me fondle Abaco.

“All you need is me!” Mandarina Duck cried out. “I’ll do anything, just tell me what you want, and I’ll change!”

I put Abaco down and wandered to the silk scarf department. I needed to think. I checked out some gloves, and tried on a hat, but I couldn’t deny it.

“I’m sorry Mandarina Duck but you know I’ve been wanting this for months. We’re just not good together anymore, you and me. We’ve grown in different directions. You’re a great bag, but even you have to agree that I can’t pass up this opportunity. 50% off! If I don’t buy it now, who knows how much time I’ll waste stalking it until I can afford it again.”

Mandarina Duck protested but I held up a hand.

“No. It’s not fair to you,” I said. “You should be with someone who appreciates you.”

And I turned away to let the saleslady convince me that even though the only color available was dark brown, it was an unobtrusive brown that wouldn’t clash with my black coat.

“This bag is only a hundred euros more than you were two years ago,” I whispered angrily to Mandarina Duck as the saleslady rang up my purchase.

So now, we’re finally together. Abaco is seqted on its chamois travel bag on the back of my couch, cradling my wallet and my moleskine in its beautifully lined interior. I’m still high from buying it yesterday, but I’m already worried about whether I’m cool enough for my new purse! Even at 50% off, Abaco’s way out of my league.

Where am I going to take it? To the supermarket?

I found myself thinking of events I could attend with Abaco on my arm. I debated whether the weekly escort of my stepdaughter to her ballet class would be too boring and domestic for Abaco. When someone called to ask whether I would attend a workshop I had expressed interest in, I thought, “ooh, Abaco would love that” and arranged for child care so we could go out on the town.

But in the end I know I can be myself with Abaco, because we’re just that good together. Yeah, I’m crazy. Crazy in love! I’ll still think fondly of my first good purse. Mandarina Duck treated me well. It was the starter purse, the gateway bag, but now that I found the real deal, it’s a whole new world. And though I know I don’t have to change for Abaco, being with it makes me want to be a better person. And as anyone would love in a new partner, it looks damn good on my arm.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have dinner reservations to make for Valentine’s Day. I wonder where Abaco would like to go…

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featured image credit: shakotte