purseDo you have any collections? Do you think about them very often? Do anything with them? Or are they just something that you periodically stumble across and then remember.

Two of my collections — art and perfume bottles — are displayed prominently in my home. I see them every day. And when I see them, I’m reminded of where I got the pieces and the fun I had finding them. Sometimes when I look at one of the paintings that I bought at a particular art fair, I’m reminded of the friend I was with that day, the weather that we encountered, and even the meal we ate as a break from the fair. My other two collections — handkerchiefs and antique purses — are generally stuffed away in a closet, only pulled out for particular occasions. But oh, the memories they can bring when I pull them out.

A few days ago as I was getting ready for work I remembered that I had a meeting that day that required me to bring some papers and my laptop into the office. Instead of my usual purse, I grabbed a larger bag — sort of a soft briefcase. Once I loaded my laptop into the bag, I headed to a closet and found a small, white beaded purse (the one at the bottom of the photo here). It’s just large enough to contain a few essentials and doesn’t add any bulk or weight to my business bag.

But more important than being the perfect size, the purse reminds me of my mother. One day when I was about eight years old my mother and I took a short walk to what she called the “junk shop” at the end of the street. It carried all kinds of second-hand goods. On that particular day my mother bought the little white beaded purse. She told me it was from the 1920s and would make her feel like a flapper when she used it.

My mother and father used to go out for dinner and dancing once in awhile. From that point on, she would take that little white purse with her. It was just big enough to carry her compact, a tube of lipstick, and a few dollars (because a woman should always have a few dollars with her). When my mother died it was one of her things that I kept. For the first few years I could still smell the residual powder from her compact when I opened it up. There was something very comforting about that lingering smell, that essence, of my mother. The smell has long since dissipated, but I’m still reminded of her each time I use it. It’s a silly little thing, but somehow pulling that purse out of my case at a meeting or conference makes me feel better, no matter what work-related things are happening.

Over the last few years I’ve picked up a couple other decorative, antique purses that I interchange with my mother’s purse. The one at the top of the photo (a bit bigger than my mother’s) was given to me by a good friend. We actually went antiquing together over a few days. I loved that purse, but had already reached my limit on spending so passed on it. A few weeks later it arrived in the mail. Whenever I use it, I remember my friend and the lovely time we had in antique stores. And I also remember that it was my mother who got me started on this collection.

Do you have any collections? What got you started collecting?

–LinnieGayl