Imagine for a moment that it’s a spring day, and you’re walking down the street with all the time you need to pause, look in a window, fix your hair in the reflection, and keep on going.
You are sauntering; your long arms are swinging by your sides, and there’s a light breeze that’s keeping you cool but not messing with your mind. No jacket is required. Winter is over, and your arms can move without being imprisoned in their nylon jail; without that irritating “swipe, swipe, swipe” of a winter coat.
And you’ve got nothing in your hands.
Imagine that. Nothing in your hands.
Recently, I was listening to a podcast and the host was interviewing actress Amy Sedaris. During the interview she described a man they both knew as “the kind of guy who walks down the street with nothing in his hands.”
I stopped listening at that point, and began imagining what that kind of freedom might feel like.
I can’t remember when I started carrying everything, but it’s been awhile. To walk down the street with nothing in my hands, or looped across my shoulder, would feel as foreign as writing with my left hand, standing up to pee, or being wrong.
I got my first purse when I was about five. It was shaped like a bunch of bananas and had a sharp metal zipper across the top. It held quarters and my Avon lip-gloss that came in the shape of a chocolate chip cookie.
Remember when your mom would take you to baby showers and they’d play the game “What’s in your purse?” Look it up, people still play it.
The winner of the game is the woman with the most ridiculous things in her purse. The ladies would all sit in a circle and someone would read out a random item — usually it started simply, with “keys,” before moving onto more obscure items, like bear spray, a spoon, a bottle of mouthwash, and a roll of duct tap (all of which, used together, could probably be turned into a bomb.)
Whenever you raised your hand and hoisted up your spoon or pepper spray to be admired by the crowd, you’d be awarded a clothes peg. By the end of the game, the woman with the most clothes pegs lining the hem of her skirt would take a prize home in her enormous handbag.
I was always annoyed that my own mother didn’t think ahead and salt her purse with random oddities, but as an adult, I recognize one clear truth: The winner of that game was the loser. The actual “winner,” is the one with the rotator cuff problems; she’s the one who can’t find her lip-gloss when it counts; she’s the one who can’t get through customs without a serious misunderstanding.
The real winner is woman without a single clothes peg, or the guy walking down the street with nothing in his hands.
This guy isn’t carrying anything for himself, or anyone else. Nobody’s asking this guy for snacks, or to please carry his BeyBlades. Nobody is begging him for gum, or a quarter so he can get a bouncy ball out of a machine. Nope. He’s so free he can’t even remember where he put his cellphone, and he’s so chill that he doesn’t even freak out about it.
The freedom of not carrying something — the freedom of not carrying everything — blows my mind.
I know I’ll never be described as “the kind of woman that walks down the street with nothing in her hands,” but as far as goals go, it’s not a bad one to strive for.