Be prepared: this one's coming full circle.
It is August 19th, my last day of work at previous Portland job.
In a flush of pride and freedom, pre- post-work cocktails with co-workers, I stop at Nordstrom.
The bag I have been wanting sold out during the Anniversary Sale. I mention this to the sales girl, who promptly finds me a few around the country that have been returned. As a gift to myself - as a celebration, really- I plop my card down and make the purchase.
It arrives in 8-10 business days: in time for my New York departure, but not small enough to fit in my luggage. I set it aside, tags in tact, to be reunited with me later.
It is mid-October. I fear the darkening days and the gusts of biting wind warn of the cold to come, so I send for some winter things I have packed up at home, which my mother is nice enough to take care of for me. Among the sweaters, fur accessories, scarves, mittens and boots that arrive in the package, my Badgley bag is the thing I missed most.
It is prettier than I remember- all soft gray leather and bright gold hardware. I leave the tags on a few days longer until I am sure I have my job secured, and then I gleefully break them off and debut the bag.
I wear it every day for a week. It goes nicely with everything, I get some compliments on it, and I am pleased with my purchase.
...Until Saturday, while lunching at the (totally luxe and very fun) SoHo House*
with my cousin who is visiting from London, the strap clasp on the bag just up and breaks. Like, out of nowhere, all of a sudden, the thing is in pieces and I can't even FIND all of the pieces.
I am more annoyed and baffled than sad, and my cousin does his best to just knot the chain strap so I can carry it for the rest of the way home. Hmph.
The closest Nordstrom is a train ride away and frankly, I'm not sure I want it fixed if the quality of the bag is such that it could happen again. It's just that, well...it looks SO LOVELY with all of my other things and I feel, without being dramatic, that I need it in my life or I will die.
It is October 24 and the roommates and I are moving into our new apartment.
It is bright and spacious (the rooms are not large, but, the spaces between them are, which is kind of remarkable for an NYC apartment) and the flooring is new, and it's only on the third floor, which is an improvement over our 4th floor walkup, and we're all very pleased to have a place to truly call home for at least a year.
Although, we notice rather quickly that it's hard to call a few walls and windows a home when you have absolutely, quite literally, NO FURNITURE with which to make it the calm, comfortable, zen-like space we crave. The one item of décor I have is a framed print that I bought a few weeks ago because the color combination caught my eye, made me stop on the busy street, take a deep breath, and feel wonderful. Anything that has this effect in this city belongs with me, without question.
So I walked in and bought it on the spot. There is a nail in the wall of my new bedroom and so the framed print finds a home.
But one cannot sit nor sleep on a framed print, so I call 1-800-Mattress and select a mattress, boxspring, and frame with free delivery.
The only problem in this flawless plan is that they decline my credit card.
I don't get paid until later in the week and think it best to put a purchase of this nature on a credit card, so I ask if I can just pay on the day of delivery (2 days from now) so I can have a day to clear things up with Capital One. The mattress man says this is no problem and agrees.
It is October 25th, my second Monday at my new job. I end up staying until around 7:45 laboriously working on something that would probably take the previous Account Coordinator about 10 minutes, and leave, starving, and prepared to do phone battle with Capital One. I find the only quiet place between my office and the subway station to talk on the phone – one of those debit-card-entry ATM kiosks at the corner of a bank I don't belong to- and go to work.
I will spare you the details but basically, the credit card company assures me there is nothing wrong with my account, I am not eligible for a credit limit increase, but that this bed purchase should be totally fine. I say, “Well, nothing has changed since yesterday on your end, and it wasn't fine yesterday, so why would it be 'fine' today?”
“It just should be. There's nothing wrong with the account, no holds, no problems, here.”
“Okayyyyy,” I say unconvinced.
To avoid embarrassment on delivery day, I decide right then and there to contact the mattress company again and try to run my credit card again. Of course it is declined. Twice.
I call Capital One again. I have to talk to a different representative. I have to ask for a supervisor.
The moral of the story is that I end up crying in this strange bank kiosk out of helplessness and frustration with a company that is incompetent, incorrect, and infuriating. One young woman is actually compassionate enough to stop and ask if I am okay- this makes me cry harder. Also, I realize I haven't eaten anything but a bagel since about noon.
Part I (Back to the Bag):
I give up and head "home" to my (empty) apartment. I emerge from the station after a suffocating ride on the crowded 6 train, and as I am walking home, something hits me.
I realize there is a little idea sitting in the back of my brain, waving its arms frantically hoping I'll notice. This idea is small, but obvious.
I take heed, pull out my phone, and call a number I know well.
"Hello, this is Lisa in Handbags at Nordstrom Washington Square, how may I help you?"
"Hi Lisa, my name's Jessica. I have a problem, and I think you might be able to help me..."
Lisa reassures me that despite living in a city wherein there are no Nordstrom stores, I can ship the bag in with a note and my account information, and they will credit my account with the amount for which I purchased the bag.
I hang up, quite pleased with myself, and to my surprise, find in the giant black hole of a purse I am actually carrying, a receipt. Not just another Starbucks receipt or a bar tab, but the actual Nordstrom receipt I got when I bought that damn bag.
Seriously, I can't ever find my subway card in this thing, but in the dark, on the street, of course it only makes sense that I would reach into the bag and pull this out.
The amount I paid? $10 more than the bed I just bought. Which means it will just cover shipping.
I am still chuckling about this vivid illustration of divine providence when I get home and walk into my room, and see there, framed on the wall, the print:
Keep Calm and Carry On it reads regally. A commandment, an encouragement - though I see that they are one and the same.
It is all that I need to make peace with that fact that I am sitting on a deflated air mattress and eating candy corn while listening to How to Dress Well.
This was part of what I was looking for, right?
I signed up for this, I remind myself.
I stare at the print and listen to the sirens, the sports bars, and the city outside.