Growing up an only child along Traverse City’s West Bay, I was never short of inspiration. Creating art, searching for treasure, and designing my own stationary line (K Publishers) were among my favorite pastimes.
As the years went on, I discovered a new form of art:
I’ll never forget the monumental moment that shaped my life for years to come.
It was 1996, and Calvin Klein’s cK one was all the rage. Seventeen Magazine featured glossy pages of beautiful models in black and white, complete with a sample of the unisex cologne. I was hooked.
With the scent, came a free gift: a beautiful black messenger bag, complete with a white “cK one” logo on the front. I was thrilled.
My awkward years- both emotionally and physically- were somehow relieved by a brand new comfort: finding a home within a signature style.
On my first day of 6th grade, I was thrilled to don my brand new Calvin Klein messenger bag instead of a Jansport backpack like the other kids.
With a cool black messenger over my shoulder, I strolled into Norris Elementary School, ready you take on my final year before Junior High.
The kids weren’t as impressed as I was.
This started a chain of events that would continue to follow me well through my adult life: being picked out of the crowd for being different. I quickly learned to use this to my advantage- even if it meant sitting alone in the library at lunch during high school. I knew my personal style, I knew my values, and I knew my strengths- but the others just couldn’t see it.
So, I found solace in myself.
The experience with the messenger bag hurt at the time, but truly shaped all my decisions moving forward- with shimmer Lip Smackers, an eye roll, and a smile (braces or not).
I started watching the Baby-Sitter’s Club reboot on Netflix over the weekend, a welcomed gift to indulge in not only for the nostalgia factor, but to continue to remember the girl I once was- a girl with an open heart and infinite optimism.
Stacey McGill, a stylish teen from the Upper West Side, reminded me that being myself- even if it meant standing out in a sparkly skirt- was exactly who I needed to be, and I didn’t owe anyone an explanation for my individuality.
The Baby-Sitters Club were like the group of friends and siblings I didn’t have, and I spent every single dollar I could get in my possession on Saturday mornings at Horizon Books. Lost in imagination, I found immense comfort in this series.
Inspired, I searched Google, Poshmark, and eBay for that old cK messenger bag- or at least for a similar style.
Alas, it seems all I have to hold onto is the memory- and somehow, that’s all I needed.
The memory of who I was before the world told me I wasn’t enough. The memory of feeling I was an infinite, magical being- a being who was free within herself.
The reminder that I’m still the 12–year-old girl heading to her first day of school with a stylish new bag.