5 May 2009

The Doctor Bag

I had an appointment with one of my doctors today. I arrived ten minutes early, before proceeding to sit in the waiting room for two hours. I was then told that I would have to reschedule for another day, and that they apologised for the wait I had to endure.

Whilst seated in a deceptively cushioned chair, which after the first half hour begins to feel as padded as a seat carved out of solid marble, your mind begins to wander down the many diverging pathways of your thoughts and memories. You begin to take a closer look at your surroundings, you begin to imagine things, and you allow your thoughts to be free.

As I looked around the room, I took in the clothing of the others seated in the room. I noted the elderly gentleman in the left corner, leisurely reading Great Expectations in his white cotton shirt, with a grey silk scarf tied in a French twist, green corduroy trousers and brown brogue shoes. Aside him sat the young lady in black skinny jeans, with a purple ruffled blouse and grey cardigan, shuffling her red high heeled clad feet underneath her in time to an invisible beat.

As the people came and went, I got to wondering when and why they had purchased each item of their clothing. I wanted to know what they had felt when they had seen each piece, and the story behind each purchase. How did it make them feel now and how had that changed since they first bought it? What did they have to go through to get it, and what meaning did it hold?

I tried to imagine the day when the elderly lady wrapped in the faded pashmina across from me, clasping her battered brown leather doctor's bag, had walked into the store and seen that shiny bag for the first time. What thoughts had been running through her head as she decided to hand over her money for it? How old had she been, and how had her dreams and aspirations changed since she had bought it? What journeys had the bag been through, and what difficulties had it seen?

I imagined a young female doctor, having ducked into a small leather goods shop during her lunch break. Her current satchel had served her since the first day she had attended university, but now it was time for her to change. She would go from that nervous girl who had sat at the front of the lecture hall, to a strong and confident woman who was in charge of her own life. The bag was more than just a bag, it was the symbol of her new self.

She had visited the leather shop every week for the past six months, just to take that bag in her hands and look at herself with it in front of the mirror. Every week she would allow herself that luxurious pleasure of imagining that bag beside her, the shiny new leather home for her belongings. It would transform her life, and indeed she would transform it, giving the bag a meaning and a life of its own.

She had been saving her money carefully for those six months. She would put a little aside every week, and had decided not to buy any other clothes until she had that bag. She would silently pray that nobody else would purchase the bag before her, and that maybe, just maybe, the shopkeeper had noticed her and placed it on reserve. She had pictured how the shiny new addition would look next to her woolen trousers, or how it would play off her new pashmina. She had been planning all of her future outfits around that bag, and today was the day it would finally be hers.

As she entered the shop, the feeling inside of her was electric. She was no longer here simply to browse and lust after that beautiful bag, rather she was now here to buy it. She walked across hesitantly and picked up the bag nonchalantly, as if she had not imagined that moment every day for as long as she could remember. She furtively checked the tag, making sure the price which was now etched deep into her memory, had not changed unexpectedly over night. As she looked at her satchel for what she hoped was the last time, she dove in and withdrew a tight little purse, before walking over to the friendly gentleman at the counter. Hesistating just a little in that final second, she carefully handed over the money, and held the bag, knowing it is finally hers. Emotion flooded her every pore, and she knew in that moment that the bag did not only signal the start of her new life, it would see her into it with style.

I thought to myself how that bag had lived with her, and how the deep coloured leather had wrinkled elegantly as she had. I wondered what that bag meant to her, and now in its battered state, what fascinating stories it could tell.

For my own part, I remember how I felt when, and the moment, I bought each and every piece of clothing in my wardrobe. I remember the store I went into, I remember the price it cost me, I remember the feeling it gave me as I tried it on or carefully inspected it in my hands. Yet all of those things are just a memory - of a me that no longer exists. For it was that person at that time, who allowed me to become the person I am now. Similarly, the pieces that existed then, do not exist any more, they have changed, they have developed. I give the clothing a new meaning, a new emotion and indeed a new life each and every time I wear them. They live as I live, and are unique to only me. Just like that small elderly woman and her bag, my clothing have a story to tell. Maybe not as exciting as hers, but then again for the most parts, my story has just begun.

Currently playing: Your Smile ft. Lil Wayne - Bobby Valentino



  1. beautiful post, like how you described each person - and your shirt is so cool1

  2. wow, big wall of text!:) Love the shirt!!!:-)

  3. I think you have a fab photographic memory dear...enduring two hours & had to be rescheduled???
    You are a very patient gentleman indeed...proud of ya' ~Blessing*

  4. cripes, I do that all the time! however pretty often it's when I see someone wearing something vile and my mind wanders down the pathway of 'who would design something like that?'
    'where could you buy something so awful?'
    'what motivated said person to buy that? how do they think it looks?'
    but it's lovely when you see someone wearing something beautiful which you can tell they've loved for a long time.
    beautifully written! x

  5. looks great!! love the cardigan!

  6. Lovelovelove your jeans!! You're an inspiration to all man-kind!!!
    (Dude, do you live in London??? Thats sooo great!!)


  7. You are SUCH storyteller. You make me green with envy everytime. I often daydream, but I'm not sure if it's ever been that detailed. And I LOVE your shirt. Superdry?

  8. That was a lovely description..I do so feel for you having to wait the 2 hours and then to reschedule. I'm so glad you could use your imagination..which is something that most wouldn't have.

    I was evacuated once at the dr. office due to a bomb threat. Oh..the joy..a very long day to endure. I brought my crochet.

  9. You floor me with every tiny detail you give, DK. You really do have a knack for storytelling, and for that I totally envy you.
    I love how you described the strangers' supposed stories as to how they came across and eventually bought the particular pieces. Quite impressive, dear :)


    PS. In case you didn't know already, you are one of the winners in the Pay-it-Forward contest :)
    Email me your address so I can send you your gifts!!

  10. Gosh, you should write a book!
    Whoo thats actually an awsome idea, wouldn't it be great to as random people the story behind their most precious and favorite piece of clothing? I think it would be very inspiring and sweet to read!

    Anyways, Love your glasses, and your curls!!

  11. You really know how to make lemon-ade out of lemons...=D

    Great post!

    Great outfit too!

  12. I also like to imagine stories for people I see on the street and such. For some reason, they always end up being sad and lonely. It's weird because I usually like to have a positive outlook on people and life.

  13. Love the flannel! So warm and toasty!

  14. I'm glad that wait was inspiring so you could write about it. Love the scarf and everything, too.

  15. You are such an amazing writer, this post totally captivated me, which is unusual b/c normally I tend to shirk from such long text-only posts. You should really write a novel one day, I'd read it!

  16. Thank you for that post. The story you described was written beautifully. I often wonder about peoples items and the story behind it. How they first spied it in a shop. What if first felt like when they touched it. I know from personal experience how attached I can become to certain things and how these items will evolve with me, almost becoming part of me. I plan to keep them for a long time hopefully! I guess that's how 'vintage' items become so precious. Not because of material value, but because of the memories and stories tied to them.

  17. This post is so inspiring. It definitely makes me think that the things I buy now, I want to remember well if I still have them in 30 years time.

    I remember where all my things are from too but the prices are a little hazy I have to admit!

  18. dapper, so beautiful. you must carry a journal of some sort around, that you can come up with these things and remember them. i wish i was as good as you expressing myself. nowadays i talk like this: "the thing was like in the thing in that place, you know?"
    i wonder what the real story is behind that bag. but nowadays, jeans and leathers and jewelry already come faded, ripped, distressed, and tarnished. i like to allow things to develop their own stories.

    and it sucks that they made you wait 2 hrs!!

  19. dapper friend, i love that you took your two hours of people watching and spun a lovely story from it...
    you wear cardigans like a charm xo s

  20. Neat post.
    I also often wonder about the history of what people are wearing, reading, listening to, how they're thinking...people watching can be a very interesting past-time.

  21. Sorry you had to wait so long in the doctor's office and didn't even get in for your appointment. Good luck next time. That's neat about your thoughts. My head is usually buried in a book while I'm waiting for an appointment. Great post as usual.

  22. this is beautiful. i am so so glad you wrote this. i never buy myself much but when i do, it's of great quality. i just bought an mj bag saturday and i feel just like this woman does!!
    thank you for your beautiful words!

  23. what a lovely post. beautifully written! i think i can remember every clothing item i've purchased and why...or what the sales person said... strange. you'd think you'd forget those minor details about buying clothes or jewelery or bags, but apparently not.

    anyway, great outfit! i like the colours of your shirt!

  24. It's true how a bag like that can be so symbolic.
    And on a more shallow note--I absolutely love doctor's bag style purses ;)

  25. I love the shirt you are wearing!! really nice

  26. Whaaa! I love this post. I love when clothes, or pictures, or pieces of art tell a story. The one you told is very true, yet very beautiful.
    Have a nice day! Hopefully we'll get a bit of London sun later on.. ;) Bisous!
    Alize x

  27. love the shirt and cardi pair, works perfectly :o]

  28. How nice is it to see a man at blogspot, and you have a great taste for style!

    Love Birgit

  29. this post sounds like my thought processes, although your writing it makes it sound ever more fantastical.

    love reading your posts.

    - frouu

  30. Do I spy a circle scarf? Great colors in your outfit.

  31. what a beautiful story... i'd love to find out what other people think when they first buy something... sometiems i don't even know what i think!

  32. i still love your blog :)
    have a nice week end :)

  33. you are so good at bringing memories - real and or imagined - to life. love reading your writing.

    and that is a PERFECT flannel btw. excellent colors.