I don't know about you, but there are certain smells that completely invigorate me. Hardware stores, for instance. I walk into a hardware store and immediately recall my childhood. Weird, I know. My dad used to own a hardware store, and I imagine he came home smelling like this...why else would I have such an affinity for such an odd smell, this mixture of metal, wood shavings, gasoline, sweat, dirt...maybe a little paint? Pretty much the same smell as a tractor. Glorious! Noxious...but glorious!
Many women, I imagine, probably feel overwhelmed in a place like Home Depot, but I am quite the opposite. I could spend all day in a hardware store going up and down the aisles, looking at the various contraptions, marveling at the array of bolts and washers and screws, OH MY!
What is that called? You do what with that? It's such an exciting place! The beginning and end to so many projects! The raw material for creative endeavors. I LOVE hardware stores. My first job at 16 was at a local hardware store, although frankly, it was too clean to be a real hardware store, too new, too commercial...hardware stores should be grimy! There wasn't near enough grime in that place.
There are certain places and moments when you stop dead in your tracks, in order to fill your lungs to the fullest extent, with the olfactory presence that surrounds you. Memories cascade across your mind, that you can't fully place, but you know they were good. They were warm. And it makes you smile. Hardware stores are that place for me.
And so are shoe stores.
My mom and I need only waft both hands towards our noses and inhale deeply in order to communicate the pure exhilaration of being surrounded by LEATHER to one another. For my mother, it is mostly equine related. Saddles, bridles, boots, straps...I'm getting a little warm and fuzzy just writing about it. For me, it's shoes, bags and coats. ACCESSORIES!
That being said, Florence is my Heaven and Hell, my Alpha and Omega. Vendors upon vendors, pushing fabulous belts and wallets and sketchbooks and jackets and briefcases and bags and bags and bags and BAGS!!!! ...in all the colors of the known rainbow. Heaven on Earth.
But alas, I could not bring them all home, as much as I willed my psychic strengths to do so. HELL. How do I choose the MOST wonderful, the MOST practical, the MOST beautiful, the MOST perfect thing to bring home with me??? Although I can feel your skepticism, it was MOST agonizing. Truly.
I decided upon a green (fabulous!) briefcase which will follow me through my first years of being a certifiable architect! (For now it stays hidden in my closet, except for brief exposures to the world, when I retrieve it for a quick inhale.) Sick. I know.
I was also considering the gray purse, shown above. But I refrained. And the distress was, I guess, visible. Ernie surprised me with it the day we left for the next city!! You have to keep an eye on that one. :) So now, every time I bolt out the door for some random errand, I grab that gray bag, as all of the Italian memories cascade across my mind, and a smile forms upon my lips...