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Large Purses, TBEX and Tomatoes?

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Cupcake Cafe in New York City w/purple flower
The shallowness of the scene does not go unnoticed (by myself, anyway):

Shallow Woman #1, having just checked her obscenely large suitcase, now sits in a small plane seat, left now only with an obscenely large purse, on her way home from New York City, a little more anxiously than she would like. She has purchased the July issue of Travel + Leisure and it  is rolled in the manner that only magazines can be, and located somewhere in the depths of this cavernous thing she now believes she foolishly purchased in a moment of unwarranted impulse. Now guaranteed never to lose anything,  she will possibly be forever unable to find any of it.

She’s been at a travel blogging conference (Travel Blog Exchange/TBEX.) The conference was a good idea; the purse which she bought at the Charleston, SC, covered market a few short weeks ago, was not.  She is aware the purse was a bad, bad idea, but only since she heard about her beautiful, brilliant, cupcake of a daughter being in a car accident.(she’s fine)

There has just been a phone conversation where Shallow Woman #1 managed to keep her act together, and say “I love you, I love you, I love you” to her daughter several dozen times.  She begins to feel less shallow, but only until she catches herself.  Her daughter, whom she is almost sure she knew long before she was even born 17 years ago, cries deep intake of breath sobs that don’t happen often; the kind when the  heart is  so visibly on the outside, all you want to do is put it back. (She would say more here, but she doesn’t want to embarrass her child, if she hasn’t already.)

I know I’m in an “off” frame of mind because I’m observing myself this way – meaning in the third person, intimately, but at a distance, like a fictional character that I wouldn’t expect a reader to like  just yet.

Maybe it’s because they don’t really know her, but maybe it’s not.

I learned from Gary Arndt’s Sunday morning session at the Travel Blog Exchange conference that “travel porn” aka “outrageously gorgeous travel photography” is seeing places that one will more than likely never visit; just the way “food porn” is seeing food that one will more than likely never eat, and “porn porn” is seeing people do things that one will more than likely never do.

Big Green Purse

More conference gleaned porn for thought: There are lots more places in a single issue of a magazine like Travel + Leisure than most people will probably ever visit in a lifetime.

Before getting to T + L, I  I manage to fish out from the depths,  “AM New York,” a tabloid format daily, I snagged at breakfast.  On page four, there’s a a story about poor Prince Harry falling off his polo pony. On the same page there’s a story that disturbs me so much so that I confess I wish I hadn’t even seen it.  I’ll say here the news story has an angle of tourists being frighteningly unaware and/or unfazed by something random and senseless involving a baby.

So I’m crying now, but tears of the average wet and quiet kind. Heart stays acceptably on my inside where it belongs. I travel with so many tissues, I easily find plenty in spite of purse issues. The buckle part of my seat belt is mixed up with the guy sitting next to me, with him using my buckle, and I, his.  He is reading “A Lesson Before Dying,” and I feel sorry for him because I know it must be required summer reading. I  don’t know what will happen tomorrow to either of us.

T + L with its slick cover is easy to find  in my ridiculous purse which if you can’t guess, I kind of hate right now, because  I now believe nothing in it matters. I start reading the magazine from the back – does anyone else do this? Unable to settle on anything too long, my eyes come to rest on a pull quote on page 127.  It starts:

“In Sonoma, life is being lived the way it was meant to be lived. Outside in the sunlight…”

Any quote that  tries to definitively say how life was meant to be lived  seems a little absurd. But hey, whatever. Then this little jewel cake of a pull quote goes on to say:

“…. Eating fresh tomatoes and handmade cheeses.”

All I can say to this is, “Seriously?” I may have really even said it out loud.

And I laugh. I tell the guy sitting next to me that our seat belts are mixed up. He says he was just about to say the same thing.

How do you think life is “meant to be lived”?

I’m thinking it doesn’t have anything to do with fresh tomatoes and handmade cheeses.

Daughter is going to be fine!

About the author

Margo Millure lives in Richmond, Virginia. She is a portrait photographer, writer and founder of Travel Belles. Learn more about her at

20 thoughts on “Large Purses, TBEX and Tomatoes?”

  1. IF I could agree that she’s shallow (I don’t) I would have to say she is pleasantly so…I can attest to this as being her rather pragmatic room mate from another blogging conference.

    Kudos to you my southern sweetie pie

  2. Shallow? no way!

    I really do apologize for not making plans with you. This was a bad week in more ways then one….

    hope all is well

  3. Beautiful, Margo. 🙂 Love that you have a too big purse, and that you notice things like mixed up buckles. 🙂 How is life meant to be lived? Crazily, I think. 🙂 Doing our best to make it beautiful, to love and be loved.

  4. Sasstown, “pleasantly shallow” – can’t wait to use that somewhere. My roomie at this conference had her purse stolen on the same day! Even though I don’t believe in this stuff we stayed up all night and chose to blame the “luck” on the room #! (412) Am going to try to figure out date to come meet up with you when you’re in Asheville! xoxo

    Jen, I hope all is looking up this week! Next time I’m in nyc we’ll try to get together!

    Krista, Agree on everything! 🙂

  5. How is life supposed to be lived? “Don’t ditch reality. Get a bigger view of it. Don’t wonder what if – ask why not”. These words from the Editor in the most recent issue of Islands magazine I believe reflects a lot of my sentiments. I think life is meant to be doing things you love and are passionate about. Unfortunately, we sometimes don’t even know what those things are. Yet, that’s what we have to find out and what I’m learning. Lot easier said than done!

    Great Great piece Margo! I’m better off now that I’ve met you face to face!

  6. I really love that, Spencer – you’re way ahead of the game. Glad to know you! When you visit will you please read the first chapter of Prince of Tides out loud for me? 🙂

  7. Lovely piece Margo, and I find you to be anything but shallow. I thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with you this past weekend – you have a beautiful spirit!

    I’m so happy that your daughter is okay – cars can be replaced, daughters cannot.

    As for life, I think it’s meant to be lived in whatever way we choose that makes us and those we love happy. Sometimes that IS eating fresh tomatoes and handmade cheese, but not for those who dislike cheese and tomatoes. If anyone does. 🙂

  8. Thanks, Audrey! I agree w/ you re: the small things in life – going back to noticing them when I’ve been away from it, always makes me happier and feel more alive. Enjoyed meeting you and Daniel!

  9. Trisha, I enjoyed hanging out w/ you too and that we got to do it more than once! Getting to roam around w/ you and Joanna on Sun. night was icing and especially helpful – and all great fun 🙂

  10. Margo!
    Such brilliant writing – so witty, charming, amusing and inspiring!
    I feel like I am a better person having met you in NYC you have such great energy, I’m going to have to swing by your site more often for great posts like this! I hope your daughter is doing well.
    Until we meet again!! 🙂

  11. Hi Cailin! thanks so much! I feel the same way about you.. and I’m thinking I should print out your comment to look at on those many days when I stare at a blank page for several hours. I look forward to being in touch! 🙂

  12. Miz Margo, should you ever find yourself in Los Angeles, my home for the last 17 years, drop me an email. I’ll happily put you up, take you out and sit you beside me at a sidewalk cafe in Beverly Hills. While there, I can promise you a great cupcake and a quick primer in what “shallow” (and a huge purse) really looks like…and it is certainly not you!

    Until then, may everyone who lives in your house be safe and well — I’ll be busy being entertained by your writing.

  13. Hi Miz Melanie, undoubtedly we would get into all kinds of trouble w/ our observations and laughter! Everyone is remarkably back to normal today, even being down one car for a while 🙂

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