New season, new closet! Go ahead, get it in every color! The New Neutrals you need now! Scrolling through my inbox any day of the week, you would think the Pandemic was behind us and I needed to freshen up my wardrobe and get ready for all the fall fun. If only that were the case. Sadly, I don’t see a lot of social outings in my near future. I guess I could up my game for the grocery store.
It may seem trivial, but along with many other pre-Pandemic activities, I do miss shopping. I know online shopping is thriving at the moment, but I prefer brick and mortar. Browsing the racks, touching the fabrics, seeing what’s new. It’s one of the oldest stereotypes: women love to shop. Not all women, there are always exceptions, but for the most part it’s true. But why do we love to shop? There are many theories. One is that it comes from being the gatherer in the hunter-gatherer relationship, the partner usually responsible for feeding and clothing the offspring. But I believe it is also tied up in our sub-conscious.
I have cherished memories of my Aunt Ruby taking me back to school shopping for many years. She didn’t have a driver’s license, so in August 1961 just before I started first grade, she also took me for my very first taxi ride on our way to our seasonal outing. While we were standing on the corner waiting for our cab, my dad drove by in his work truck. He offered us a ride downtown, but I very politely told him no thanks, we are waiting on our taxi! Aunt Ruby always made me feel special, but those shopping outings made me feel like a princess. I don’t specifically remember anything that we purchased, but I remember how I felt.
By junior high and high school, most of my shopping outings were with girlfriends. There is a touch of magic in spending the day with your friends, searching for the perfect pair of jeans or flirty sweater. Taking a break to huddle around a table in the coffee shop inside Hilbish Drug Store, we would devour baskets of hot, golden French fries, sip Cokes and listen to each other’s woes. It was always more about the companionship and the bonding than it was about what you bought that day, we just didn’t know it at the time!
Fast forward and I’m the mother of three sons! I did have fun back to school shopping with my boys. Our day out always included lunch and conversation. They could be a talkative bunch! But what probably saved my sanity during those crazy, demanding years of child raising, were shopping dates with girlfriends. I was extremely lucky to have a circle of confidants that offered a colossal helping of camaraderie along with expert shopping advice. I did bring home a few shopping bags of treasures from those outings, but most importantly, I brought home a feeling of contentment.
When Mr. Smith and I moved east, New York City became my shopping mecca. I’ve written many times about my adventures in the Big Apple. Sometimes with a friend, but often solo. These trips not only provided me with all this great city had to offer, but also with a sense of independence as I learned to navigate and explore on my own. I came to appreciate and understand the value of my own company.
These days my main shopping buddy is my sister, Jeanne. I am sorely missing our much-anticipated shopping day during our visits. We always have a project or two planned that we want to accomplish during our time together, but normally reserve a day to hit the stores, have some lunch and talk. Those shopping trips have resulted in several full shopping bags, but the fabulous companionship still outweighs any treasures scored.
As much as I love fashion and perusing my favorite brands’ new seasonal offerings, I wasn’t born to shop. I have a very distinct memory from when I was five years old. It was the day after Christmas and my mom, my Aunt Ruby and my sisters “went to town” to exchange some gifts that didn’t fit or didn’t suit. I was shocked at all the people out shopping. Hadn’t they had their fill of shopping during the Christmas shopping season? Wouldn’t they rather be home with their families eating Christmas cookies and enjoying their new Christmas presents?
I have no doubt that living through the COVID-19 Pandemic is going to have a lasting effect on me. My dad survived the Great Depression. A lasting effect on him was that he refused to ever be without cash in his wallet. Hopefully I will survive the Pandemic. And hopefully a lasting effect on me will be remembering that camaraderie and togetherness are the most important things in my shopping bag.
C’est la vie.