I have owned this wallet since 1999.
It’s traveled all over the United States. It’s lived in New York, New Jersey, California, D.C. and Maryland. It’s gone to Disney World dozens of times. It’s been all throughout Canada. It’s been chewed up by a dog. It’s been caught in the rain. It’s seen the inside of hundreds of pockets, restaurants, bars and stores. It’s been lost on many occasions, but never forever.
It even flew to Turks and Caicos before Turks and Caicos was a thing, before all the light pollution so it got to see the Milky Way.
Toby calls this wallet The George Constanza. He finds it sad. One time, in 2015, he bought me a new wallet for my birthday. It was super fancy, green and kept my cards all organized, in a beautiful array of tiered goodness. And so I retired the black wallet. I even threw it out that day only to dig it out of the trashcan hours later, wiping off coffee grounds and scraps of food. I placed it in my top drawer and covered it up with soft things.
I used the green wallet for months. And then one day, for no reason whatsoever, Murray, my cat, peed on it. I couldn’t get the smell out so I had to toss it.
This wallet came back out again.
Over the years, many people have asked me about it. “Why is that thing so beat up? Why don’t you get a new wallet?” Most of the time I just shrug it off.
One time a store clerk said, “That thing has seen better days.”
Indeed it has.
But given the time, and if a person seems up for it, I would say the following:
I purchased this wallet at a J. Crew. And that J. Crew once sat in the basement of the World Trade Center, at a time where everything seemed new and fresh and awesome, ripe with possibilities. I was young and in love and still a touch naive. This wallet came into my life before That Event and now This Event, before life became complicated and also a touch scary. Back when the only thing I had to manage was mending my own broken heart, and not in charge of keeping three others beating.
(And you can’t tell me it’s not been durable, all these 21 years later.)
Being so attached to this wallet, it doesn’t make much sense. It’s endearing at best, psychologically telling at worst.
But it’s mine. And every time I consider throwing it away, I become deeply emotional, like I’m letting go of something, someplace, someone I won’t and can’t ever get back to.
Maybe it represents hope.
Or maybe I just never got to say goodbye.
Maybe I never want to.
I get it. When I lived in Italy in grad school, I splurged on a beautiful pair of leather boots, totally out of character for me, both in that I am frugal (ahem cheap) and in that I don’t generally wear “gaudy” things. I loved them. I wore them everywhere, loved listening to the heels clicking against cobblestones, loved how they made me feel like I had come out of my shell, loved everything about them. I only took them off when I was sleeping or walking barefoot through piazzas at 3am, slightly drunk and weaving.
And then. All good things come to an end, at least when it comes to shoes. The leather became thin, the soles starting leaking at the seams. I had them repaired, but that too came to an end. I had to throw them out. I cried. Big, hot, embarrassed tears. That time in my life was fabulous, but it is over. My life now is also fabulous, but oh, I do not have those high-heeled leather boots.