Sunday, March 26, 2006

How An Obsession Begins

There I was, rambling the aisles of Winco, when I saw her. Not her, really, but what she was carrying. A purse.

It had a cartoon of an avocado on it. Perhaps the avocado had a face, giving it the kind of anthropomorphism that avid collectors of Japanese & Korean stationery appreciate.

I wanted to ask her about the bag, but her boyfriend hovered nearby with a kind of protectiveness that said, "Stop staring at my girlfriend." Or maybe it said, "I'm on meth."

I've been pining for a new bag, because my two-year-old Chiapas woven tote bag has been reduced to shreds (though beautiful pink, orange, and gold shreds). I almost got a green flowered bag at Foundation Garments, but it was made of recycled inner tubes and smelled it. I lingered over the African print bags at Target, but the handles weren't right.

This bag, with cartoon produce and what looked like charming lyrical writing, was the one. So, when I spotted the girl a couple aisles later in the bulk candy section (sans boyfriend), I pounced. "Your bag! I love it!" And, close enough to touch the bag, or grab it and run off, I saw a part of the writing: Oaxaca. "It's from Oaxaca!" I said.

She beamed. "My brother got it for me." She smiled. She knew she had the platonic ideal of a bag, against which all other bags would be measured and ineveitably fall short, causing me years of agony.

Later, unloading the box of 174 diapers from the car, I cursed myself. I shoulda just offered her cash for the damn bag because, even if I trek back to Oaxaca, a city I know well, finding that exact purse would be nearly impossible. Perhaps if I had noted the store the bag was advertising but there, immersed in the powerful smell of bulk Kisses, I had let the girl go.

So when I nursed baby Jenny at 11 that night, I turned to Ebay. The problem was I had no keyword for my bag. "Bag" and "purse" summoned nothing. I tried "Oaxaca" and "Mexico", paired with "cartoon avocado". Can you believe that got me no results?

I abandoned Ebay for Google but I found, that I often do when pairing too many distinct terms in a keyword search, that I had discovered yet another way to access a billion porn sites. Why oh why does "cartoon avocado" plus "Mexico" equal porn wonderland?

But then I had a memory. I'm walking with Jen at the Mercado de Abastos in Oaxaca. A booth of religious charms and milagros calls to us. And then, a couple aisles away, we spot two women sitting by a monton of blue corn tortillas. Jenny buys them, and they pull them out of a bag.

A beautiful bag. Sort of the shape of my Winco girl's bag. I search on "market bag" which leads to "tote bag" and then I remember the material--vinyl--and it all somehow guides me to Gringas & Company and this bag, so close (and yet so far?). It doesn't say Oaxaca, and the avocado has no face (but did I contrive that anyway?), but I emailed las gringas to ask if they have others, and I await their reply.

I may just have to haul my sorry self back to Oaxaca. Or at least to Winco, same day, same time.


lona_mom said...

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one still searching for "the perfect bag" since having children. I'm currently in denial, carrying a designer brand purse with diapers, wipes, etc. stowed in my car in a backpack. Did you ever find the one you wanted?

Serena said...

I got the very close approximation of the bag and it DID have the cartoon avocado with a face. I tell you, I've been reaping the compliments. How I love my little cartoon produce bag!