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We were given a writing exercise in our Advanced Creative Writing class last week, and I had so much fun writing my assignment, I thought I’d share it with you.

Before I can tell you about the contents of my handbag, I need to tell you about my handbag herself. Her name is Esmerelda, and I found her last month at the Holy Hill craft fair.

On a warm, late summer’s day in September, I noticed that several people in the crowd were carrying these really cute vintage rag bags. No two were alike. I finally stopped a woman and asked her where she got hers, and she vaguely gestured over her shoulder and told me somewhere in the middle. The middle! The Holy Hill craft fair is HUGE! It is held one day only on the third Saturday in September every year and probably boasts over 400 vendors. It is set up in about five long two-sided rows over a park-like setting, with a back row anchoring it all together up a slight incline fronting the woods. In the middle covered a whole lot of territory!

After spending a wonderful afternoon with my best friend Laurie enjoying the last of the warm weather and some seriously good shopping, I found the purse lady. What a character she was! She was gray-haired and middle-aged, rather stout, and very friendly. There was nothing she enjoyed more than making her purses and telling customers her stories. She still had several purses left, all unique, and I asked her how long it took her to make one. She replied, “About one and a half bottles!” Excuse me? She went on to explain that after tearing her fabric into strips to crochet, she can make one purse a night. She sits in her favorite rocking chair at home in front of the TV, and she cracks a bottle of wine. After a glass or two she knows what your purse’s name is. The purse’s last name is usually whatever type of wine she’s drinking. Then she goes by color and style, or whatever pops into her head. When she finishes the purse (and the wine!), she writes the name on the cork from the bottle and leaves it in the purse for you. My pretty little bag’s name is Esmerelda Zinfandella, and I loved her from the moment I laid eyes on her.

Esmerelda is petite, only 10 inches wide and 8 inches tall. Her interior lining is made from the same fabric that is torn to make the strips to crochet the bag itself and consists of a beautiful cabbage rose pattern in mauves, several shades of green, burnt oranges and reds, with a cream background, giving the overall exterior a fall shade pattern. Esmerelda only has one interior patch pocket that I keep my iPhone and lipgloss in along with a few coupons and my hot pink iPod shuffle for when I work out. She is just big enough to hold my wallet, also a pretty spring green to compliment Esmerelda, and a pink bag to hold all of my girly-can’t-live-withouts. A tampon or two, Ibuprofen, decongestants, Lifesaver wintergreen mints that I constantly chomp on out of nervous energy, some cough drops, and a tiny pack of kleenex. My sunglasses and car keys just fit on top, if I’m careful. Loose inside of Esmerelda are her cork with her name, and my three talismans, a small silver angel, a cross, and a pale green Connemara marble worry stone that I got on my last trip to Ireland.

Esmerelda has two warm brown leather handles to carry her with and five vintage buttons sewn across her front, the large square center button serving as a clasp to keep my treasures tucked safely inside. The next time you see me, come and meet her; she’s a delight! And if you’re ever at the Holy Hill craft fair, perhaps you can adopt one of her sisters. Martini McBride was sad to see her sister go, but happy that I gave her a good home and an important purpose in life; to carry MY life carefully, yet stylishly, inside her.

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