Love, Loss, and What I Wore

This article appeared in Elle, published in September, 2009. Article by Kristen Wiig.

I remember being at that age when I wanted to look just like my mom. I coveted her wavy hair, stole spritzes of her perfume, and even though I was too young to wear a bra, I wanted to, just because she did. I would constantly go into her closet. I tried to walk in her heels, I posed in her hats. I would put her clutches under my arm, look in the mirror, and then pretend I was arriving at a party.

I don’t know which birthday it was exactly—I was still young enough to be tearing the wrapping paper off my presents as if they were on fire—but I remember ripping open a box and grabbing what was inside with both hands. There it was! That symbol of responsibility and young-womanhood I had been waiting for…and the best part was that my mom had one just like it.

It was a small and roundish fabric purse, with buttons running along the top where material met a wooden handle: a Bermuda bag. The best thing about it was that its fabric slipcovers were interchangeable. Mine came with two reversible covers (four purses in one!), one of them kelly green with navy piping; turn it inside out and the fabric was navy blue with green piping. The other cover was khaki with white piping on one side, but on its reverse, it was white, with big red and green strawberries.

It was a kid’s miniature of my mom’s “momma” Bermuda bag. She liked the khaki cover, so I did too. I remember us carrying them together. I would stand near her so that people would notice that we had the same bag.

A few years ago, the memory of that bag just sort of popped into my head. Did I still have it? Where did it go? I didn’t remember giving it away. I asked my mom if maybe it was in a bag or box somewhere, possibly in the basement. No, it wasn’t. It was gone. I was sad I hadn’t hung onto it. I was mad at myself. I told her how much it meant to me.

About a month later, a package arrived. It was a Bermuda bag! Just like mine. Just like hers. Khaki with white trim. Mom and her husband, Ed, had gone on eBay.

So, it spends a lot of time in my closet. So, I don’t use it much. With all the things I carry nowadays, it’s not very practical, and truthfully I’m a little afraid something’s going to happen to it. Still, it’s my favorite bag. And not because it reminds me of my childhood or because of its look. I cherish it because it’s a gift from my mom, a gift that she gave me twice.