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The Messenger Bag


A few years ago, my girlfriend and I were at Jo-ann Fabrics hunting for patterns and crafting supplies. Her goal was to setup a shop on Etsy and sell some handmade goods but she needed ideas for projects and wanted to make a few small trial items. I don’t know much about crafting or sewing, but I like going to craft stores just to be around all the raw materials and potential creative energy.

As we looked through the envelopes of patterns, we came across a set for messenger bags. I could never find a good messenger bag. They would always fall apart, or just be the wrong size to fit what I wanted carry. But if you had the raw materials and a pattern to go from, you could make the perfect messenger bag. Even if there were parts of the pattern that weren’t to your liking, you could customize it and make it your own.

I remember it was springtime because my birthday was only a few months away. And since my birthday was coming up and she wanted something to work on, I proposed that she make one for me. She told me she would.

We picked the best pattern and scavenged the store so I could choose the materials I wanted.

I picked an off-white canvas for the exterior. She asked me why I chose a light color. I told her I had too many dark bags and they always blended in with the shadows making them hard to find. She said it would just get dirty. I told her it would add character and be unique.

For the interior, I chose a yellow and brown pattern of overlapped circles that gave the impression of a muted floral pattern you would find in your grandparents kitchen furniture manufactured in the sixties. I got the feeling she thought it was an ugly choice, but I thought it was comforting. Besides, only she and I would know what was on the inside.

We took the materials to the counter to be measured and cut. As we read off the sizes we needed for each pattern, we noticed that every bolt of material I chose ran out of fabric just beyond the required sizes. The lady at the counter didn’t need to make any cuts because the materials were already the perfect size. On top of that, if you purchase the last of a bolt of fabric, the final yard is half-priced. Since this is a messenger bag, almost everything was under a yard, which meant almost everything was half off.

I’m getting the messenger bag I’ve always wanted, designed specifically for me, with no painful cuts and at half the expected price. It seemed too good to be true.

We took the materials home and I was ecstatic to see the finished product.

My birthday came and I didn’t get my messenger bag. She hadn’t started it. She seemed to be more hung up on what to call her Etsy shop than making her crafts.

When I would ask about the messenger bag, she said she wanted to take care of the projects she promised for other people, because they had deadlines. The messenger bag would be there. It could wait.

Christmas came. She had changed the name of her Etsy shop, but still hadn’t started the messenger bag.

The projects for her friends slowed over the next few months and as my next birthday approached, she asked me what I wanted. I told her I wanted a messenger bag. She said, Okay.

My birthday came and I didn’t get a messenger bag. She hadn’t started it.

More months passed and her crafting stopped completely. Occasionally, I would bring up the messenger bag and she said she didn’t feel like making it.

Other times she told me she was afraid of doing it wrong; she was afraid of messing it up. I told her we could go get more materials if that happened.

I offered to make it with her. It would be a project we could do together. She didn’t seem to like that idea.

Another Christmas came and I didn’t get a messenger bag.

I told her I wanted to make it, but I didn’t know how to use a sewing machine, or how to read patterns. I was lost in this world of crafting and I asked if she could show me.

She said no. She told me she would do it.

Another birthday came.


She had moved back in with her mother a week before Thanksgiving and the following Christmas morning I was alone.

I texted my ex-girlfriendĀ andĀ asked how she was. She said she was feeling lonely and depressed.

I told her I felt the same and asked if she wanted to get together. She said no.

A few hours later, she texted me to let me know she received the chocolate covered strawberries I had sent her and her mother. She thanked me and told me I made her day.


It’s springtime again with my birthday less than two months away and I spend the majority of my time alone in less than half of my house.

On the second floor, there is a room with no lights. On the top shelf of the closet where she used to keep her things, is a folded pile of raw, uncut fabric beneath an envelope of patterns.

I would do something with it, but I don’t know how.