Not quite, but fairly close. You see, yesterday I did something I haven't done in an extremely long time. Something that when I was much younger was the norm for me. Something I used to count as one of my favorite pastimes in a place that I considered to be a second home in many ways.
I went on a shopping spree.
Note the lack of exclamation points at the end of that sentence.
I think referring to it as a 'shopping spree' is stretching the truth. Yes, I did buy quite a few things, but I didn't run into the stores and throw just about anything that caught my eye into my arms. What I bought was three pairs of shoes (two pairs of flats and one expensive pair of heels), a boxed set of Miss Dior Cherie, a dress, and a pair of sheer nylons. Followed by a trip to Target for cleaning supplies, and one to the grocery store for food (the cupboard was literally bare in my pantry.)
These were all things I needed and in the case of the perfume and expensive shoes, wanted for over a year. I think I became aware of the shoes in February 2009 when I was searching for a pretty heel to wear to work that was comfortable and elegant. I found one on the Lord & Taylor web site by Calvin Klein and vowed to get it. Eventually. A college student can only afford so much!
The sensation of carrying all of the bags around the mall brought back a flood of memories from my childhood. My Dad worked at the department store Dillards when I was in grade/middle school and I considered the store to be our family's version of Cheers. Everybody knew who we were. Most evenings after school, my Mom, brother, and I would drive there to wait for Dad to get off from work and all go home together. I used to do my homework on the model beds in the furniture department. I even remember when they used to sell electronics (common for most department stores back in the '90s but discontinued) and my brother and I would tune the TV's to find an episode of The Simpsons. Because my Dad worked there, we got an employee discount and consequently wore very nice clothes consistently throughout our lives. It was fairly routine for us to go home with bags and bags of clothes and to try them on for 'modeling' for our parents to see (I once did this in front of my ex-roommate when I was staying at her home in San Diego for Thanksgiving. Not all families do fashion shows with each other as I quickly learned. She and her entire family were incredibly freaked out to see me sashaying out of the guest bedroom in a new skirt I picked up at Fashion Valley and I was incredibly freaked out when nobody mentioned how much they liked the material and cut.) Growing up, my family didn't have much money, and when I was little, my brother and I didn't have dressers for our clothes, but at least we had a wide variety of clothes and solid shoe collections.
Unfortunately because we were so well-dressed we were scrutinized obsessively at the private school I attended and the church too. Most of the time people would just compliment us which was fine. The other portion of the time kids in my grade would pester me with questions like how much were your shoes? Where do you shop? Who asks a classmate this?? Most of the time I would never respond because I've been taught to never discuss money in mixed company or I would get snippy and reply, "Why do you care?" The one time at the lunch table when I mentioned I shopped mostly at Dillards, you could have heard a pin drop. My ex-best friend sneered at me in front of everyone, "That's a rich person's store." (This statement alone clearly shows I grew up in the Midwest.) Of course, I didn't agree because Dillard's is nowhere near the same level of Bergdorf Goodman or Neiman Marcus, but as far as the lunchroom table was concerned, it was as if I just announced that I was the heir to the Pop Tart empire. Better take that silver spoon I was using to eat my fruit cup out of my mouth.
Over the years, the economy worsened, my sense of style changed dramatically, and the spending habits of my family took a turn once my other two brothers were born. I began working two jobs in high school, a practice that continued throughout my entire college career. In college, I was very careful to set a monetary limit with how much I could spend and how much I could get for spending. I didn't have parents who would buy clothing for me (that ended in 8th grade when I began entering my Goth phase and nobody wanted to get me a shirt with fishnet sleeves) so I had to do it myself.
I shopped online the most. It was a match made in heaven. I knew my exact measurements from store to store and piled things in the shopping cart, looked them over for a week, slept on the decision, pulled things out of the cart, put some more in, weighed out how many different ways I could wear the piece of clothing with different tops/bottoms, and finally made my purchase after a couple of weeks.
Going to the mall, while once enjoyable, turned into something I avoided. Shopping online in the comfort of my bedroom with good music playing while I ate a sandwich...I mean, wouldn't you pick the latter too? You don't have to aimlessly wander around, with the stench of pretzels and Orange Julius in the air, listening to babies crying, teenage girls bitching to their moms, moms not doing anything to fight back and letting the kids roll all over them, and creepy guys with their pants hanging off their asses trying to pick up jailbait 'round every corner you turn.
I'm definitely getting old when I say this, but I swear when I was younger, malls were a good place to hang out with your friends, chill in the food court, and spend your carefully saved allowance in. My friends and I were respectful, as were most people at the time. We didn't have our eyes glued to a cell phone. We didn't have our hair straightened to the point where it looks like floppy ribbons hanging down your back. We smiled. I really don't see this at the mall or most public places anymore. I feel the generation gap in action.
After I brought home my new purchases, I settled in to check my online sites. There was a gray business dress at Macy's I wanted that wasn't available in the store. I've had this dress running in my head for weeks now. Each time, I cut a new picture of how to wear it in my mind's eye. I envision it with the new Calvin Klein heels I bought, hair up in a bun with some loose strands to remain feminine, strands of pearls at my neck. With simple flats, a necklace with a key on it, hair curled. With a trench coat on, stockings, heels, and straightened hair with big sunglasses. This is how I operate with clothes. I envision each piece I want to buy, the various ways I can wear it and keep it fresh. Doing this helps save me from fashion no-nos. Well sometimes. There's always that one ridiculous skirt or shirt that simply can't be explained you love to death ;)
My former roommate told me today that you should spend the first paycheck you make on clothes for your new line of work. If that's the case, I already did it. Still continue to. Without the uh, paycheck yet.
I feel so much better writing this all out! Adios remorse!
Love to you all,