Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Teaching, That's My Bag

For the last two days, I’ve been carrying homework and books in a Rosauers grocery bag in addition to my overstuffed turquoise purse. To be fair, the grocery bag does have handles (the bag actually labels them “(Love)Handles.”
This afternoon, books and folders emerged from my ratty purse like clowns out of a circus car.
Oh my god, that bag, a student said.
Pink ahola and new
teaching bag rest
I love my turquoise purse with its racy zips gashed down the front. The purse is the color of a diner booth. Its soft vinyl body is stained from dragging it all over the West this summer. The shoulder strap is cracking.
It was never meant to be a Teaching Bag. 
At the reading group with some teachers last weekend, while we ate ice cream sundaes in the kitchen before discussing Martin Luther, I looked at my sad sad bag. I’d dropped it on the floor by my feet and drifted across the kitchen. Why I didn’t leave the bag in the living room, I don’t know. But in the bright kitchen light, my purse slumped like a flaccid, obese Easter egg. Two other teachers were standing with the bag at their feet, while I chatted by the ice cream cartons and bowl of candy corn.
I pretended that one of those guys brought the bag, the bag with cobwebs of old tissues, clots of receipts, loose change, stray tampons, and allergy pills that spilled out of the bottle last June but were never rounded up.
I pretended not to know my own purse.
True to my thrippie roots, I am open to the treasure of a pre-owned work bag. But I confess that thrift stores have their limitations, and I have yet to find a bag at a thrift store that I didn't carry out of irony.
I had visions of trotting down to my nearby Nordstrom and treating myself, upon deposit of first paycheck, to a hip young professional work bag. It’s time to make the investment, I said, in my Image.
That was in August. Now we’re practically at midterm.
And I’m choosing paper over plastic.
I hit up the TJ Maxx last night after work.
I bought a new bag, I told my students today, but I haven’t quite moved into it yet.
You won’t even recognize me when you see me with that new bag.
Like the last few teaching bags I’ve had, this one is OK. It’s gray, with tasteful patches of studs near the handles. It will get me through the next few months, and it won’t show dirt like the turquoise purse.
I’ll cut the tags off of New Bag tonight while I'm packing for a conference. And I’ll load up my loyal wheeled carry-on. I call it the baby pink turtle. When I flew to California with John and his two younger kids last March, his daughter insisted on pulling this bag all over LAX, even though she had her own duffle to carry.
The bag is that cool.
Pink Aloha, that’s what L.L. Bean calls that pattern.
Aloha—where I come from, that’s another word for classy.

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