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My Kate Spade

June 8, 2018 3:09 pm0 comments

It was the summer of 2010, and I was just home from my honeymoon, thin and tanned, feeling fresh as I embarked on the unknowns of married life. I felt perfectly 29. On my lunch break, I would walk down 5th Ave the ten blocks or so to the Kate Spade store and look at dresses that were adorable but too bold for me, overpriced baubles, and the most perfect purse I had ever seen. It was black leather with gold hardware. It zipped and folded over with a smooth magnetic closure. It had two small carrying handles, but also — sigh — a detachable shoulder strap. It was perfection. It was everything I wanted to be. It was also well over two hundred dollars.

After weeks, or maybe even months, of lunchtime rendezvous with this beautiful bag, I told my husband about it. “Why don’t you buy it?” he said. My heart leapt. Did he really think I deserved this bag? Me? Would it be that easy? Could I walk into the store alone, and walk out with The Bag? I felt a pulse of love for my husband, who would treat me this way, and a swell in my chest for who I might become.

It escapes my memory how, but I was able to get a discount coupon that brought the price down by fifty dollars or so. Walking into the store, I was all nerves. Worried the coupon wouldn’t work, or they wouldn’t have my bag in stock. But they did. And it did. And, feeling overwhelmed by my newfound glamour, I walked out of the store with my bag, a mere ten minutes after I went in. It was wrapped in tissue in a box in a shopping bag, and I could not wait to get back to work and take a peek. Walking up 5th Ave in the sunshine, I felt like an adult. A fancy, beautiful adult.

I carried that bag every day. I was happy. I loved my job. I had lots of fun girl friends. I had some beautiful clothing, and a gorgeous haircut. When it was nice out, I would walk all the way home, up 5th Ave, through Central Park, and over to our apartment on 75th and Columbus. I couldn’t believe my life. I’d never imagined.

In the fall, I visited Kate Spade again. And there on the white lacquer display table were the most beautiful shoes I’d ever seen. Gold sandals with a tiny smoothed wedge heel, a very thin ankle strap with buckle, and a wider straight toe strap with a flat bow design. I tried them on. They looked like heaven on my very long, narrow foot. They fit, a coup for this size 10.5. Nothing pretty ever fit my foot. I bought them. They were me.

I remember the first night I wore them. To a work party on 31st street. After the party, I didn’t want to wait for the elevator and decided to walk down the concrete back stairs. On my way, I slipped a bit and scraped the back of the shoe, removing the gold and laying in a small gash. My heart sank.

Ultimately it didn’t matter. The shoes carried me through many many months, worn daily through the fall and spring and summer of 2011. I wore them to my great uncle’s funeral, and my mother cooed about them. Somehow, she said, those shoes just scream Bailey. They’re perfect. I wore them on dates to expensive restaurants in the Village with my husband. I wore them to work with shorts, crisp tank tops, lightweight cardigans and appropriate jewelry. I wore them with my pink Theory dress that made me feel like a knockout. I wore them to the holistic doctor who removed my IUD, and walked back to the office with a mixture of terror and excitement pulsing through me. I wore them in Block Island with my family and my coral button down dress and the gemstone necklace my husband had given me in St. Lucia for our first anniversary. I wore them every chance I got.

That summer was sunshine and lightness, the excitement of abundance, and all the loveliness that was still to come.


First went the bag. In the fall, I sadly transferred my items into a backpack, which just made more sense. Even weight distribution across my back, no extra heaviness from chunky hardware to exhaust me even further. Then the weather got cold, and I needed supportive shoes anyway. I put my golden lovelies away for spring. Being pregnant was not nearly as fun, nor glamorous. I wore Uggs all winter, and increasingly larger polyester tents shirts.

I still do have the bag. That beautiful bag. I bring it out on dates when I dress up, though most times, to be honest, I ask my husband if I can bring nothing but my phone (he covers the wallet and keys) because it makes me feel light and unencumbered. Freedom from bags is the big luxury these days.

The shoes. Those are gone. In the spring of 2013, I had lost the baby weight and regained my sense of self and style (after a very cruel post-partum period) and I delighted in wearing my old friends again. They were pretty scuffed, but they still looked lovely to me. When one ankle strap broke, I repaired it with duct tape and kept wearing them — not every day, but when I could. One day, as I was crossing the street, the front of the shoe caught on the curb, and my foot tore through the front cross-toe strap. There was no way to repair them. It was over. I sadly put them in my closet.

We had two more children and moved twice before I tossed them. I don’t know why I kept them around so long. They were unwearable, but in some far corner of my heart, I halfway hoped they’d magically repair themselves and I could be that sparkly version of myself again.