I started dating my husband when I was 20 years old, and the year was 1994.
Like you see on Friends, the colors tended to be muted, women tended to be feminine in a more masculine garb (baby doll dresses with Doc Martens were seriously a thing!) We wore chokers, bohemian dresses, blue jean shorts with tee-shirts and big oversized man like button down shirts tied around our waists (thanks, Grunge), and fortunately for me my memory has sort of wiped out the rest.
There’s a little outdoor shopping center in Houston. It was really the first of it’s kind. Since it is at least 100 degrees, if not more, a large portion of the year, outdoor shopping centers took a long time to catch on; so this one was ahead of it’s time, but it’s also in the trendy yuppie side of town.
The main shopping requirements for any mall type structure for poor middle class college kids were The Gap and Eddie Bauer. We used to drive over there since it was really close to my now husband’s then apartment, and just walk around.
I really liked Eddie Bauer. Back then the store was divided into two parts, the casual side and the “work” side as I liked to call it. They sold slacks and button down shirts for the men and skirts, cute blouses and other stuff for the women.
Overall the entire store got a lot of my money during my college years. I still have a brown suede jacket I bought from there and I still get compliments on how great it is every time I wear it. I’ve gained a bit too much to fit into it, but I refuse to get rid of it. I’m determined to fit into it again I love it so much.
I went to the University of Houston. It tends to rain a lot in Houston (even though I’m prepared to do a rain dance in my front yard we need rain so badly right now) and UofH, at least back in my day, flooded every time it rained. I didn’t have and couldn’t afford Doc Martens so I wore hiking boots, plus I was a rock climber so it fit more with my lifestyle choices than Doc Martens did, however they were not water proof. The outside was 100 degrees and inside the classrooms and lecture halls it was closer to 50 degrees. To be a student who could survive the entire day on campus, the uniform was shorts, tee shirt, sweatshirt or bulky sweater, flip flops or sandals, warm socks, shoes, small umbrella and probably a baseball cap. I also carried a small towel in my bag to dry my feet off. Of course given the conditions this was an effective layering tactic so you were prepared regardless of temp or weather. Trust me, you can stand your legs being cold if your feet are warm and dry and so is your upper body. I’d wear socks and shoes inside the classrooms and buildings and Teva’s outside in the rain.
Like most young women, I reached a point where I wanted to shed the boy like college uniform for something a bit more feminine. Of course I also only shopped at The Gap and Eddie Bauer so in hindsight it was still a boy like uniform, but so were a lot of the fashion choices of the ’90s.
At Eddie Bauer I stumbled across a bag. It was a large lined brown leather bag, thick leather too, and it came with a matching purse (we now call them wristlets) that clipped inside the bag. It was the perfect size for books, notebooks, pens, socks, shoes an umbrella and sweat shirt. However I couldn’t afford it. It was around $150 and that was big money to this broke college girl.
But, I had this man in my life who liked to spoil me (still does) and for my birthday that year he gave it to me. I was over the moon! I carried it everywhere!
The purse lasted longer for campus life than the bag did. Turns out a backpack was more efficient, less awkward and better at fitting under a small umbrella than a large bag hanging off one shoulder, plus like I said it rained a lot and I didn’t want to ruin the leather.
Footnote: nothing would ever ruin the leather on this bag.
There have been periods, even years, that the bag lives in the closet, then a purpose emerges for which this bag is the absolutely perfect bag, and I happily pull it down.
This bag was the PERFECT bag for grad school (2004-2006). It’s size is truly perfect for notebooks, books and what-nots. I loved getting to use it again too. With grad school I wasn’t walking as far or around as much so it was more practical than it had been in college.
Post grad school, back in the closet it went, but it would find use from time to time for an odd thing here or there.
Then it found it’s current reincarnation 3 years ago as “My Dyslexia Bag.”
It fits 2 giant 3-ring binders, the Wrightslaw Special Education Law book, the TX Dyslexia Handbook, a notebook and a whole bunch of papers really well. I’m telling you I can really shove a lot of stuff in it. Yes, with that much stuff my shoulder gets bruised, but it will fit in the bag, which still blows my mind.
The leather is appropriately and stylishly scuffed up but otherwise the outside of the bag is in perfect condition. The inner lining is also still in immaculate shape. I have no idea what happened to the purse that came with it, that became history a very long time ago, but the bag has stayed. For a bag that is like 23-24 years old, it really is in fantastic condition. Eddie Bauer really knew what they were doing.
It lives in my office at home when I’m not using it. Sometimes it’s empty because I’m actively using or organizing my papers, or it’s full because I’m too lazy to organize after the last meeting. Regardless, it’s always ready and waiting.
It will survive the rest of my son’s educational years, unless something unexpected happens to it. Strangely enough the bag is a comfort to me. Trustworthy, dependable, ready and waiting, it’s a good support, something I don’t have to worry about.
I’m normally not attached to things, things come and go, but this bag is an exception. I love this bag. I’m glad it has this purpose. It offers a steadying presence in the heat of battle, probably because my husband gave it to me and I’ve attached sentimental meaning to it over it’s life.
My leather warrior in arms will never let me down.