A woman's purse is not the "black-hole" every man thinks it is, certainly not. However, the interior of said purse is a little like peering into their minds and souls; sort of a materialized cosmic link. They come in all ranges of shapes, sizes, and in varying degrees of clutter. Well, some have no clutter at all and if that doesn't make you suspicious of them-then nothing will. Women pack all sorts of trash in their purses or pocketbooks. Much of it depends on what stage in life the female is in as to what she carries with her.
In the earliest stages of this rite of passage, a young girl carries a small purse with a shoulder strap. It's more for style than for functionality. Inside you will find a change purse, a brush, and some cosmetics. If she's lucky, she's remembered to put the house key inside-no car keys for she isn't old enough for that yet. In mere months, bits of important papers begin to reside inside. It could be a note from a friend she needed to hide hastily from a nosy high school teacher. Then, as if by magic, a tiny address book with the telephone numbers of all her friends finds lodging.
By the time she grows old enough to have her own keys to the family car, the purse has grown larger to accommodate even more "necessary" items for life. The change purse has been replaced by a wallet that holds not only money but photos of her friends and relatives. No credit cards or checkbook yet, but it won't be long. More cosmetics are added to the purse along with a pager or a beeper that the young pre-adults find so essential today.
When she's on her own, the fancy sort of purse slowly begins to change. It's not that skimpy, yet expensive little leather bag. She's graduated to the vinyl or fabric bag that can hold more. If she's a free-spirited sort, it'll just be a one-hole wonder to catch everything. If she's more organized, it will be one with a multitude of pockets-each with a precise placement for its contents. By now, there is a checkbook which has become a constant worry over what the true balance might be (unless we are dealing with an accounting major who will challenge the bank at every turn), and more credit cards than some 3rd world countries, and in as much debt. But now, sunglasses, medicines, tissues, and contact lens holders also find a home in the purse.
Along with motherhood comes a further transmutation of a woman's purse. It does double duty posing as a backup diaper bag. Now at true suitcase proportions, inside can be found extra diapers-a size too small, more tissues, a pack of portable wipees, a now fuzzy pacifier, a leaky tube of baby rash ointment, and the long lost water bottle. Oh, and about $32 in loose change at the bottom of the bag. Until she changes that bag for another, she'll never find the kid's favorite rattle either. This continues until all her children are beyond the toddler stage and well into kiddom-about 7 years-old. Constant, though absent-minded digging in the purse for the lost "whatever" eats many hours from her life.
Now the purse starts to shrink. It's almost her own again except for the kid's spit out gum in a tissue, small vending machine toy castoffs with cut-your-fingers-off edges, extra pens and pencils for school, and more papers of all kinds. The purse has become a receptacle for everything from bills to pay stubs, a deck of cards with two missing to paper clips, and more keys than the keeper of the Capitol building. Between the keys and all that change still jingling around the bottom of that purse, a woman doesn't need a bell wrapped around her neck for others to know she's coming.
When her children grow to the teenage stage, the purse shrinks a little more, not much, but ever so slightly. The credit cards have long ago dwindled to a mere one or two that she religiously avoids using and the checkbook no longer scares her to death for she's learned to record the checks in her register and to trust her basic math abilities. The many keys, and the wallet are still there too. The keys jingle less and the wallet is more streamlined. The little makeup bag holds less and is rarely used except for emergencies, but that good fingernail file is always at the ready. The file isn't so much for her nails as it is for prying open items or chipping the ice off her windshield. And the change at the bottom of the bag went the way of school lunches.
Finally, the mature woman carries the smallest purse of all. It's taken years now for her to return from one-sided slumped posture to a more bipedal form. Inside this dainty jewel of a purse is a gem wallet, the checkbook stays at home, a few tissues, and two keys. And, when she can get away with it, she never takes the purse at all. It's only baggage after all.
A woman's purse is a measure of our personal growth. In each stage of our lives we put inside it all the things we think are necessary to carry with us. At times it is important and has averted problems as when our children are small-a magic bag to stop the tears, ours and theirs. It's when we find that all those things we carry with us aren't nearly as important as what we carry inside of us that we can let go of the rest.