People who know me today may find it hard to believe that I used to detest carrying a purse.  Me, the woman whose dream it is to own just one Coach bag and carries a satchel filled to the brim with everything from Splenda to staples.  Yes, me, the self-proclaimed ‘pack-rat’ who would rather carry everything with me so I am ready for whatever comes at me during the day than leave something behind and be without.

I don’t know if I hated it because when I was in college it was something that students didn’t do or if carrying one just made for something extra to haul around and potentially get lost or stolen if I were going out to a club for the evening.  Everywhere I went I made sure to bring everything I needed but also made sure everything I was carrying would fit into my back pocket.  I can even remember one of my boyfriends in college constantly nagging me about how many items I would empty out of my pockets when I came over to visit.

No matter what I was carrying – Keys, money, identification, the rent check, or the cat, all that would fit went into my back right pocket.  Ok.  I was just kidding about the cat, but for a reason, unknown to me even now, I would fill that pocket with everything that I possibly could.  Any pair of jeans that I wore during my college years showed white stretch marks of wear, even after only a few weeks after purchase.

When I left college and took my first job, I soon realized that I was not able to wear jeans every day to work and having no other place to deposit my belongings, I purchased the first purse of my adult life.  It was a simple, inexpensive black carry-all.  Although I felt awkward at first, hating the feeling of the bag hanging off of my shoulder and tugging on my fingers as I carried it, I eventually grew accustomed to carrying around this “necessary” piece of luggage.  When I would wear jeans, however, I would still catch myself slipping things into that all too comfortable back pocket – usually receipts from stores and paper money I would get as change, only to be surprised with these gifts on laundry day when they had already been long forgotten.

I realize today that even though I carry a purse (and even enjoy it), I always catch myself trying to fill my back right pocket with items out of habit, usually my iPhone, money or receipts.  I also have discovered that as I get older I tend to keep many things in virtual pockets – old, worn, comfortable places in my brain that the same things keep ending up in. These ideas, dreams, hopes, and fears have worn some areas of my pocket thin over time, yet I keep taking them out and shoving them back in, over and over.  Some items are just too personal to be carrying around in something detached from my body.

No matter where I’m at, I always have my pockets with me, or at least the ones in my mind.  The most important things I think about are always right there.  They can’t get lost or stolen and are ready at a moment’s notice; I just pull them out when I need them.  Occasionally an idea or thought will slip out of the pocket and fill my mind, overtaking everything else, almost beyond my control.  I guess I am one of those people whose thoughts race through their heads, often colliding and intermingling, but always being filed away for later.

Unlike that real back pocket in my jeans, limited by the constraints of the stiff denim fabric, the pockets in my head seem expand to hold an almost infinite amount of information, much of which others would consider useless.  Comforting things – like the lyrics to my favorite songs, pictures of places I’ve been, the sound of my daughter’s laughter, and the recipe for the pancakes my grandmother used to make on Sunday afternoons after church – are some of what’s in there.  Scary things reside there too, like worries for my daughter’s future, the fear I used to feel when the Wicked Witch of the West came on the television during The Wizard of Oz, and what would happen to my family and home should an emergency take place.

Sure, like that old ex-boyfriend, there are people who may complain about the quantity of things I empty out of my brain pockets.  This, however, does not bother me.  Sometimes it’s just not comfortable to sit on things.

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