Tonight, at around 6 PM, I decided to go shopping. I hate shopping. I buy a lot of my clothing online...everything online is organized, you don't have to dig for size or search for color, and a lot of the time the website will recommend stuff to go with pieces you like. Mostly I hate shopping because I detest going to malls. Everything I wrote about in this post seems to have gotten worse. However, I'm moving to the big bad city and haven't really bought myself a good deal of clothing in a long time. I'm talking I own one pair of jeans, three pairs of flip flops, a pair of sperrys, a few sweaters and lots of t-shirts.Comfort, comfort, comfort.
So I drove off in my mom's car and I wasn't a mile from my house when I was struck with this awful, horrible, crushing feeling that I was never going to get back home. Like I was going to get in some sort of freak car accident and DIE.
I wish I was kidding. Then my mind, being my mind, extrapolated that pinch of anxiety to a near panic attack: I imagined what the evening news would say and the phone calls my mom would have to make to my siblings and my poor roommate stranded in an expensive apartment on the upper east side. I thought about the last half hour I spent with my mother, helping her make a buffalo chicken dip for her book club tonight. If I died, surely it would go to waste and book club would be canceled. The whole town would come out for my wake. It would be terrible. But worst of all, I would be dead.
By the time I pulled onto I-95 on my way to Providence, it was all I could do to stay on the road. I turned up the radio and just told myself to concentrate, concentrate. Luckily, the panicky feelings passed, though I was a little sensitive to anyone driving rather speedily within my sight range. I had made it to the mall and parked the car and entered the perfumed doorways before I started to feel panicky again.
Now this is a panicky feeling I cannot explain as readily as the death by fire-y car accident example, because no one was ever killed because they were shopping for sweaters. Shopping gives me an unexplainable anxiety. I feel perfectly fine in bookstores, could spend hours and hours perusing to my hearts content. There's something about clothing, like you have to get in and out as fast as humanly possible OR ELSE. But whats the or else? I can't quite put my finger on it.
I tried to ease myself into my sojourn by going to J. Crew first. I love J. Crew, but do most of my shopping there online. The store was so quiet. I could barely look at a couple of t-shirts (all of which had stunningly high price tags) before I felt a lump rising. I didn't want to dig around for my size, and I didn't want to cart anything around to a dressing room. I didn't want that nice girl folding corduroys to ask me if I needed any help. I didn't want to make anything match, or spend money on necessary accessories (because all of them are so cute, but so expensive!). Needless to say, I hightailed it.
It was down to the wire. I needed a pep talk or I was never going to buy anything. "Stephanie," I told myself, "you need some new clothes. This is not frivolity, you actually need to go into an office and look like a human being. Do you want to end up on What Not to Wear?" So I took a deep breath and ducked into Banana Republic. Still a little angst-ridden, I tried to calm down as I looked at some pretty skirts. I tried a skirt on, with a poorly matched (on my part) sweater thing, a cardigan and some jeggings. Bad. All bad. I wanted to cry, and leave. Instead, I forced myself to look more. Look for outfits. Stop looking at prices, I needed stuff anyway. And I succeeded! I felt a little better, and bought three (yes, three!) outfits.
On my way out of the mall I stopped at Borders. I deserved a little reward, after all, for surviving my near panic attack(s). Baby steps.