"That's quite a purse you got there," said my dentist.
"Oh," I said with a small laugh. "It's gaudy." Then I proceeded to tell him about the purse until he started lecturing me about flossing and brushing my tongue. I like my dentist, but I wish he wouldn't hold a mirror up to my face and make me stick out my tongue. Have you ever looked at your tongue? Trust me. Start brushing.
After I provided some details about my purse my dentist, who really is a nice guy, he said, "That's great. You have a story to tell."
I told him, as I have told other people, that I bought the gold purse in an antique shop in a small town north of Phoenix called Prescott. I splurged and paid $15. The purse, made in California, is in excellent shape which is credit to the United States. In other words, it wasn't made in China and sold at Walmart. It was like brand new. Those jewels sparkling in the desert sun are sewed on tight. The purse has a musty smell, as if was kept hidden in a woman's closet for years waiting for just the right moment to use. Then the woman died, and the kids sold it at an estate sale before it landed at the antique shop. Or maybe not. No matter. It's mine now. In all it's jeweled glory.
Still, I haven't told my dentist, or anyone else, the entire story. People have lives to lead and don't have all day to chat about purses. A shame.
When I was in high school, I saw what I thought was the most beautiful glittering purse in a mall shop window. It was a life-changing purse, gold and sparkling. I could have worn it with this shirt and it would have matched. It was boxed shaped, with a long gold link chain strap. I have never seen a purse like it anywhere again. Ever. One of a kind. It was near my 16th birthday, and I begged my mother to buy it for me as a gift. It was more than she could afford. We went to the mall again, and there it was, still in the store window. More begging and she relented. That birthday I got my gold purse. I never used it.
I never took it to high school and walked down the halls with it proudly on my shoulder. Instead, it sat in my closet. I would take it out now and then and admire its dazzling perfection. It was so bright. It reminded me of the sun. It was too much. I was afraid to take it to high school because, well, it was gaudy. In those days everyone was wearing fringe, suede and bell bottom jeans. I was afraid to be different. My mother never asked me why I didn't use the purse. A few years later, after she died, I moved far away from home, and the purse stayed behind in the closet. It was sold at a yard sale when my dad died. My golden purse that I never once filled with makeup, loose coins, a mirror or a photo of my mom, gone forever. Until I found my jeweled gaudy purse this year.
Flash forward to 2015. I was standing in a line waiting to order food at a Panera Bread. I noticed two teenage girls giggling and whispering a short distance way. They were looking my direction. I surveyed my attire. I wore black shoes, black pants and a black coat with minimal flourishes, just a little bling. I was perplexed. I wondered why in the world the teenagers were laughing at me. Then I knew. It was my purse dangling from my arm. They were giggling at my golden jeweled purse. For one second I was 16 again. I wanted to shrivel up and run out the door. This second passed. I smiled. Thankfully I remembered who I was. I was so glad those girls made fun of me. Truly. For I knew then that these whispering teenagers could say nothing behind closed hands that would hurt my feelings enough to keep me from using my purse. The entire restaurant could laugh at me. I was holding on tight to my gaudy self. I had my lesson. When the student is ready, the purse will appear.
I wish I could go back in time and have my first golden purse again, but that ain't gonna happen. Four years of high school is enough punishment for anyone. Besides, I don't think any teacher should have to endure me in algebra again.
Instead I will keep my golden purse in my heart, and on my shoulder. I will worry less about conforming, especially with my writing career where I can be insecure and where I often try too hard to be accepted.
I think to best serve the world it's important to let our golden light shine. Even if people laugh. Keep shining.