Saturday, January 16, 2010

Prada bags and gal pals

A girlfriend posted on Facebook yesterday that her Prada bag arrived in the mail.

I'm not a 'bag' person; I've never been the woman with the French tips and shiny red Chanel or the burgandy acryllics and nut-brown Luis Vuitton. I don't do nails and I don't do bags. So why did I hide my FB friend? Why did I quietly banish her from my live news feed?

Well, we're going on four months of unemployment. I took the year off from teaching to be with my babe, and Jay was let go in September. It's been a skin-and-bones winter, a food-stamps and savings-dwindling winter. Why can't I have a big enough heart to embrace both my current poverty and her extremely good fortune?

Maybe because poverty is bigger than anything I've known. It fingers and winds itself into every aspect of me; it seems thicker, stickier, and far more copious than my old generous spirit or my desire to celebrate others.

Ah--that's the stuff we're not supposed to say, right? That anything is greater than our care and consideration of others? But let's just say it one time. Poverty is enormous and extremely ego-centric. Its weight wears friendships down; its relentless push backs the most considerate into dark corners.

Money buys Prada bags and gal pals; it buys pink-scented, martini-clinking, gloss-slicked girlfriends that celebrate each others' purchases. Without money, I feel a lot more alone; uncelebrated and struggling to see past my family's needs to celebrate anyone else. I feel a lot less pink, a lot less glossed, a lot less part of any 'grrl' power circle. Perhaps money buys support, too, then, and praise, and the elation you feel after you and the gals hug and kiss and giggle. On the flip side, poverty brings quiet, then, and one's own deep gray shadows. I don't mind the quiet and the gray because they're real. But I do miss the grrls.