Saturday, December 18, 2010

Treasured: DvF blue tote

Almost all of the items in my "Treasured" posts invoke a nostalgia that allow me to look back and enjoy the memories I've had with them, from childhood heirlooms to honeymoon trinkets.

But there are only a special few items that inspire me to look ahead as well.

A few years ago when I was halfway through college, my father died unexpectedly of a heart attack, and understandably, my family was bereft and adrift for most of that summer.  We were just us four, not five anymore, and couldn't seem to get over the insurmountable gap that my father had left.

When summer was almost over, I had to go back to college and get back into the swing of things. I had a post as an editor at my college newspaper that needed tending to. I could be busy. I had classes to take, and friends to see. I had goals before, didn't I? I had a life to get back into. I was needed. I needed.

I almost couldn't. Going back to school seemed like a huge obstacle. Insurmountable. Was it only two months since I had last been there? It seemed like lifetimes before. I was different, too. I felt older by experience but younger in my confusion. A walking paradox that cried.

One night, I went shopping with my mom at Ross to get out of the house. Most of our excursions during that month and half were not important by task. Going to the grocery store, going to the movies. Trivial in the everyday, but monumental in their emotional fulfillment of forgetting grief for just a couple hours.

We were walking in the aisles, talking about me going back to school. It'll be weird, I said. You'll be fine, she said.

I saw this bag hanging on the rack for a deal. Cerulean. Diane von Furstenberg. Everything about it said grownup and hopeful. I touched it wistfully. I had a few tote bags for school, but none as nice or beautiful.

My mom bought it for me. She said I needed a new bag anyways for my editor job, overlooking the fact that collegiate journalism doesn't require champagne tastes. In one purchase, she confirmed a love and confidence in me. You can do it. You'll be fine. 

And a week later, I was back in school, getting back into things. Getting back into going to class. Getting back into editing at work, writing columns, typing, and calling. Seeing friends. Talking, opening up again. Crying. Laughing.

I carried that bag everywhere that semester. It reminded me that I could get through this, I had life to look forward to and that I still deserved nice things. It was a leather-and-cotton life raft to help bridge the rift between who I was before, what I went through and who I wanted to become. I could forget my grief for a little while. I could make sense of the shards and move on, slowly but ever still pacing ahead.

An affirmation in cerulean.


  1. Awww, what a wonderful story!!!!!

  2. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing!

  3. I can't imagine losing my father, and it's wonderful that you're able to talk about it so freely. What a sweet, touching story!

    - Lindsay

  4. Aww... reading that totally brought tears to my eyes. I'm so sorry you lost your dad at such a young age. What a difficult thing to go through! :(

  5. What a moving story. Moms always know the best things to say and the best, special splurges to make :) Thank you for sharing!

  6. This post was so poignant. I can tell just how much your heart was in it. A lovely bag with a beautiful story :)

  7. This is just a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  8. A well-told story, Miss Jo Ann, bitter and sweet at the same time. Thanks for sharing it.

  9. SO sorry about your Dad hunnie.....I love the bag, and the heartfelt story behind it.....hugs!

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  10. What a special story behind this gorgeous tote. I can certainly see why it is so very treasured to you. I hope it continues to bring you the confidence and positive feelings that it did through such very tough times.

  11. This is really a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing!

  12. JoAnn, I visited your site after you left a comment on mine. And wow... I'm so blown away! Your writing is incredible, as is your amazing ability to put together outfits. :) I so appreciate the story attached to this bag; I think in this day and age, it's better to have fewer items with more meaningful stories. (But let's be real, my closet is overflowing, natch.) This truly attests to that. Thanks for posting this.

    Hand drawn:
    My Closet in Sketches


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