Retail TherapyPosted: March 19, 2008
I love the mall. It’s big and safe and full of possibilities. I grew up in a family that was very intellectual and artsy and anti-materialistic. My mother was totally opposed to anything that looked like it was part of a “set.” Sheets, towels, dishes – she was almost compulsive in her hatred of things that matched. It was as if these things represented, in a very deep way, everything that was banal and bourgeoisie. Which, okay, maybe, but when you’re eight years old life is chaotic enough, and sometimes a little matchy-matchy can help calm the mind, is all I’m saying.
While I can appreciate certain aspects of my mother’s artistic leanings, I do feel I was the unintended victim of a mild form of child abuse. I never learned the basics of putting together an “outfit.” I never even knew that people wore “outfits.” I thought you just had a random assortment of clothing, and as long as there was a shirt on the top and pants on the bottom, you were good to go. I still wake in the middle of the night, gasping for breath, remembering a certain polka dot shirt worn with purple pants with little flowers. Cute shoes weren’t even part of the equation. Shoes existed only as an afterthought. You had one pair, and as long as they sort of fit, what more was there to say about shoes?
The damage was deep, and sometimes I fear, irrevocable. The injustice of it makes me weep, still. And sends me running to the loving arms of the mall, where I wander for hours, searching for more than a great outfit. I’m searching for my lost youth, where there is calmness in the chaos. Where things make sense. Where some things belong together. And, if I happen to end up with a nice outfit and some cute shoes that match, well, that’s a price I am willing to pay.