I ran three miles today. Finally, I said, "Lady, take your purse." Emo Phillips
The Inside of a Woman's Purse is the title of a collection of short stories I've been working on for... twenty-five years or so.
The inside of my mother's purse smelled of Wrigley's spearmint gum and the suede of her wallet. Her purse, or rather purses -- one for each season, were, on the inside, silky and tidy. Organized. They still are. At 75, my mother is more organized than ever, sharp as a crow, splendificent as a peacock---only more subtle. Last week ,on our way out the door, she ran back to change coats ---from blue to green, to match her purse. My mother, one in a family of twelve children, is still a beautiful woman and she matches. There will always be tissue in her purse. Lipstick.We children were not allowed in and The Purse was kept on the top shelf of the front hall closet. The Purse was mysterious the way grown ups were. I loved to open it when she wasn't looking and just smell it.
The inside of my purse? Rocks beach sand sea glass earrings buisness cards caps off tubes off chapstick wires balled tissue, lego. Chaos. It gapes open like a toothless joker grinning at me from countertop, table top, stair step. Bed. Whereever. My purse smells like dry cheerios and Altoids. When they were little, my kids dived in --too often. No mystery.
The inside of a women's purse suggests other metaphors--yes,yes, I know. Material. Material.
Up until this year, whenever I sat down and looked at my material, my content, what bothered me is how domestic, white, North American, dull, the stories were. How yawningly middle class.
"Be who you are and do what you do", I hear Dr. Suess saying,"those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. "
I lived most of my life wanting straight hair knowing I could never be that elegant vision of a woman my mother is. I longed to be struck by the Goddess Hestia and perhaps learn the art of the hearth or at least some organizational skills.
Truth: I never knew who Martha Stewart was until years after everyone was tuned in.
"Martha Who?" Really.
I have wild unruly hair and no longer want to spend hours trying to straighten it. Acceptance?
Maybe. I'm working at that.
"Be who you are." ???
Knock knock who's there?
When the inside of my mother's purse or her hair looks like mine, I will worrry. When mine looks like hers, ( that'll be the day), my husband should start to worry.
I'm thinking it's really a lot the same with the stories I need to tell.
I'm going to try these next few months to empty and embrace the contents in the inside of my purse, my heart, my hearth, my earthly landscapes and my um... more ethereal dreamscapes.
Maybe, treasure's hiding. Maybe I just have to open up to the mystery I can't yet see.