When I retire my tote bag for a new bag an entire era disappears. Yes, the old bag carried my assorted books and notebooks gallantly for twenty years. She even held on when the shoulder strap, frayed and torn, appeared ready to let go and allow everything to plummet to the ground.
Today I found a bag the same size, well made, sturdy, and with a certain character. I bought the bag knowing that the old purple bag no longer could tolerate her load. Her straps, almost frayed through, strained to stay together.
The bag, purchased at Womencrafts in Provincetown, extolled women writers. The entire front of the bag listed the names of women who wrote as feminists. They wrote to empower women and to take issue with a culture based on male predominance. Many wrote as woman who loved woman.
Katherine V. Forrest, Judy Grahn, Radcliffe Hall, Jane Rule, Starhawk, Jane Chambers, Gertrude Stein, Barbara Deming, Anais Nin, Simone De Beavoir, Elsa Gidlow, Mary Daly, Adrienne Rich, George Sand, HD, Rita Mae Brown, Sonia Johnson, Pearl Buck, Zora Neale Hurston, Sonia Johnson, May Sarton, Sappho, Anonymous ( for those women whose voices were silenced)... and some names whose letters disappeared over the years.
I read their words to learn about myself. I carried their names with me. They were the tutors for a generation of women.
I'll find a place to retire the bag. A bag with history, a bag that made a statement, can't disappear.