My Purple Dior Satchel

My purple Dior and me in Montreal.

My purple Dior and me in Montreal.

My purple Dior satchel was my most treasured belonging besides my wedding ring.

It was a very special gift, that marked a very special point in time, the time when I started to get shots of ascorbic acid sporadically, and I was feeling better for reals.

Mr. Pennington had been carrying my things around for years, because I am very flimsy person and my spine, in particular, could tolerate nothing. Even the weight of my own arms and head was agony. That tailbone and sacral instability made sitting and lifting hardly possible. Practically everything I did, anything that involved force or weight, destabilized my spine and made me hurt so much I wanted to die.

But suddenly with these various little injections, I could tolerate life a bit. I felt less sick and less fragile. It was so different for pathetic me. Born so severely-affected by Hypermobility Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I could clearly sense the improvements.

What use are things in the life of an invalid?

All my life, I never wanted things. I only wanted relief.

What use are things in the life of an invalid?

An invalid only wants things like a comfortable bed, soft clothes, a washing machine, something nice to eat, a tolerant companion, peace and quiet.

This thing, the Dior satchel, was not my idea. We were in Las Vegas. Mr. Pennington insisted I find a nice bag. I protested. It seemed ridiculous to spend money on something I didn’t want and couldn’t get much use out of. But why not look.

I wandered the Forum Shops at Caesars while Mr. Pennington played poker in the smokey casino. I dithered. Was it time for a thing thing? For one thing, I was not fabulous, not back then. What does a non-fabulous person do with a fabulous thing? And it would have to be a light thing, the lowest weight possible, definitely not leather. Did that exist?

In the Dior store, I liked the Lady Cannage Nylon Satchel. It was pretty, casual, not too showy, not leather and probably the least expensive luxury handbag. Perfect.

This was back in 2010, when I was on morphine every day, when I had no quality of life, when I could hardly be out of bed and everything was too overwhelming for my fragile body, but that was changing. We didn’t know it was the intramuscular shots of Vitamin C. It was a few more years before we figured that out, and that I need them everyday to compensate for the disaster of Hypermobility Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. But that purple Dior bag was a monument, a marker that the road had curved, away from my life of torture, in another direction from my life of disability.

Maybe we should refer to my purple Dior satchel as a religious icon, because it was only luck, or perhaps divine intervention, that we stumbled upon daily shots of ascorbic acid as a successful treatment for my wretched case of hEDS.

My purple Dior satchel was the physical symbol of the hope that a better life seemed to be coming for me. It was a sacred thing I could touch and believe that maybe one day I would have places to go and things to do. Maybe one day I would need something this fabulous and even be able to lug it around all on my own. Maybe one day I would even be fabulous and have a fabulous life. Why not dream.

In all the years I owned my purple Dior satchel, every time I saw it in my closet, every time I touched it, every time I picked it up, I felt the hope and promise behind that beautiful, frivolous thing that I didn’t need and didn’t want but Mr. Pennington insisted I have, if only for hope of what my life might be, and all that might happen in between, no matter what, because back then we never imagined I could ever be as healthy as I am now.

That is love.

As I type this, I am crying.

My Stolen Purple Dior Satchel

The night before my purple Dior satchel was stolen, I looked at it and thought, “This bag just doesn’t look good anymore. But how will I ever stop using it?”

Though very worn, it still provided a satisfying sensual experience.

I loved to twirl the shiny D-I-O-R charms and poke the ends of the letters into my finger tips. Hardware makes a high-end bag. That sturdy zipper never caught, never gave, and no matter how much I crammed in there, the bag held its shape, unlike those saggy Louis Vuitton’s.

The once rich purple leather handles were faded and fraying. So soft and easy to grab, it was my portable kettle bell, working my grip as I hauled it around. If I needed my hands, it hung nicely on my forearm, allowing me to concentrate on engaging the muscles around my shoulder blades. I love to multi-task. Managing my musculoskeletal issues never stops.

Like the handles, the leather piping had slowly changed to a light lavender, showing the age of the bag. Like the handles, it no longer matched the enduring deep color of the quilted nylon. Maybe nylon is better than leather.

Once I got a repair estimate from the guy in Beverly Hills who fixes the Louis Vuitton luggage. What it would take to return my beloved bag to tiptop shape? Almost the price of the bag itself. No thanks.

So instead, I had it cleaned and began to use it all the time. No longer saving it for special occasions, I took it on trips, to the grocery store and everywhere, and finally, even cramming it into my locker at work next to cans of caffeine free Diet Coke, small bags of peanut M&Ms and my hairbrush, pushing the door closed behind it.

I pulled it from my locker, for what turned out to be the last time, and that is when I wondered how the relationship with this beat-up bag would end, if I would ever have the courage to cut the tie. I didn’t think I would.

The next day, Mr. Pennington and I went for a hike. It was beautiful.

While up in the fresh, crisp air, the bank called to ask about recent use of my debit card.

No, it wasn’t me.

While I was on the phone, Mr. Pennington got fraud alert texts about his credit cards. No we don’t shop at Victoria’s Secret. No we don’t shop at Bath & Body Works. Whoever had gotten our cards was stocking up necessities. Trying to. How did they get those numbers?

Back at the car, it all made sense. Someone(s) had smashed the back window with a rock. This took several tries. The rock had hit the roof and other surfaces of the car many times before successfully breaking the window. (sigh) This was going to be an expensive repair. That took a lot of hope, energy and nerve at 2:00 on a Saturday afternoon, as cars went whizzing by.

Phew. My salt is safe.

Phew. My salt is safe.

Once in, they ripped the seats apart to get into the trunk and found my purple Dior satchel and Mr. Pennington’s wallet in his jacket pocket, which he thought he would be too warm if he brought along.

Good news, they did not take my salt.

They also missed my felt sack of coins, about $60 worth. I never get a parking ticket.

So much for the ramen we had planned after our hike.

We called LAPD and waited. We scrambled to remember what was in our wallets and get accounts shut off. 

I put on my brave face for Mr. Pennington. Team work is important in a relationship. But my head was spinning that my bag was gone forever, that I would never touch it again.

“It’s a thing that is gone and that’s not much of a problem,” I told myself, to keep myself out of despair. Trying to.

That was a lie. It was so much more than just a beautiful thing.

I climbed into the bushes, looking for my bag. Maybe the thieves had grabbed my wallet and tossed the Dior? If I found it, I could salvage it. I could get it cleaned. I was ready to climb down into the wash next.

“Ma’am, they would have taken that. It won’t be there,” one of the LAPD officers told me. “Car break-ins are up, because they use those electric scooters to get away. Trust me. They took it.”

I gave up. I stopped looking.

Good news. At home I found my favorite lipstick L’Oreal Color Riche 985, which I thought had been in the Dior. Matte goes so nice with the airbrushed look of velvety Ehlers-Danlos skin, and this wondrous formula does not dry out my lips. I get so many compliments.

Bad news. My medical alert card from the old Ehlers-Danlos National Foundation was in my stollen wallet. That I would miss. That thing was awesome. If anyone asked what was wrong with me, I would say, “Let me show you.” That card explained it all.


I woke up in the middle of the night for a few days, panicked about my bag, the violence with which it was yanked from my life. The thought of strange hands digging through my intimate belongings turned my stomach. I wonder if they tried taking any of my potassium, magnesium or Naltrexone pills. That would be funny.

Scarf by Zadig.

Scarf by Zadig.

In the weeks after, I kept telling myself, it was time for my purple Dior satchel to go.

It had been used to the end of its beauty.

It was time for me stop thinking about the hope it had represented.

Hopelessness was a long, long time ago.

That chapter of my life, my life of disability was over.

It is time to take that for granted.

I get up everyday and get to do what I want. My body is a bit high-maintenance, but I am closer to normal than I ever dreamed.

It is time to stop being reminded, and to stop living in fear that my body will give out like it used to. Might be easier to do that without that bag around.

I stopped missing it.

I went to the DMV to get a new drivers’ license, a Real ID which required a lot more paperwork. Everyone was very polite and I didn’t wait long at all.

Our identity theft insurance through Lifelock covered my stolen bag, so that was a nice surprise.

I went down to fabulous South Coast Plaza and got the heaviest, most obnoxiously fabulous leather bag I could afford to replace my purple Dior satchel. I paid the difference for it myself, from money I made in my un-disabled life, my life that is now.