She reaches down into her bulging tote bag and pulls out a small plastic box with a hinged lid. It contains a round pill box with a threaded lid from which she tips out a vitamin pill, a fish-oil pill, and the enzyme tablet that lets her stomach digest milk. Inside the hinged plastic box she also carries packets of salt, pepper, horseradish, and hand-wipes, a doll size bottle of Tabasco sauce, chlorine pills for treating drinking water, Pepto-Bismol chews, and God knows what else. If you go to a concert, Bina has opera glasses. If you need to sit on the grass, she whips out a towel. Ant traps, a corkscrew, candles and matches, a dog muzzle, a penknife, a tiny aerosol can of freon, a magnifying glass – Landsman has seen everything come out of that overstuffed cowhide at one time or another.Michael Chabon
Yesterday we had to go to the Post Office, and to buy milk.
I took my handbag with me.
When we were finished, Ben asked me why I needed to take my handbag everywhere. He wondered why I couldn’t just take my wallet.
I explained to him that I needed my bag, because of the essentials. Bemused, he challenged me to turn my bag upside down on the floor and only put back what I needed. To do this I also needed to unzip some extra compartments.
There were some pens. And a small notebook. Everyone needs those, right?
A small tube of moisturiser. Cos, dry skin, ow. I use this all the time.
Lippy. Vanity, but still… Yep, I’m keeping that.
Aspirin, and anti-inflammatories, meds, water purifying tablets, bandaids, tissues, and some hair ties. Essential.
Nitroglycerin spray and heart tablets in case I get severe angina or arrhythmia – all in my ziplock bag labelled HEART.
Asthma puffer and emergency steroid pills in case I get an asthma attack that can’t be controlled – all in a ziplock bag labelled ASTHMA.
Facemask and hand sanitiser, plus spare mask, just in case. Cos COVID. Used almost daily.
A spare pair of underpants and yoga tights, and a pair of big girl pullups in a big ziplock bag because neurological incontinence, which could strike at any time, and the need for wee-wet pants and any sodden clothes to have a bag of their own for storage. This folds up to almost nothing. I can’t tell you how grateful I have been for this little kit.
Small kit of essential oils in tiny travel bottles. Innumerable uses. Used at least weekly.
A couple of herbal teabags – yeah, I could probably go without those, but they’ve been very handy from time to time.
Foldup fabric shopping bags, cos ENVIRONMENT. Used so often!
A couple of crystals. Yeah, I know…
Wallet, with money, house key, car key etc. And a lucky green plastic gecko I was given in a funky little shop in Sedona last year. (Man, that seems like LIFETIMES ago.)
Reading glasses. Sunglasses. A couple of little vials of dry eye lubricant. Phone.
Snakebite bandage. Maybe now I don’t live on the farm I could let this one go…
All of that stuff, except the snakebite bandage (which I’ve used once on my dog Charlie, and once on someone else) and the gecko (but hey, he’s my lucky charm), I have used at least a few times a year, sometimes I’ve used them many times, and a couple of times having this stuff has saved my life or bought me time to get to hospital or enabled me to carry on with my day, despite the unpredictability of chronic illness.
That’s my basic bag.
On top of that I often have my journal, and a laptop, and maybe a book I am reading.
If I’m travelling I’ll also have a shawl, and maybe a travel bag of medicines and toiletries. Sometimes a tiny jar of Vegemite.
I don’t have anything specifically for a sucking chest wound, but I could probably make do with what’s in this bag.
Meanwhile, Ben loads his wallet and keys in his pocket, and sticks his sunglasses on his head.
I remember when I used to live like that.
And I do have a tiny bag that I can sling my credit card, some cash, glasses, mask and sanitiser into.
But mostly, that bag comes with me, and I don’t mind carrying it, because inside that bag is peace of mind.
Is that crazy?
I’d love to know what you do!
Love, and voluminous handbags, Nicole xx