The Constant Convert
Buying Stuff for a Life I Don't Live
The downside of my addiction, and there's always a downside, is that I accumulate too much junk. Because I can afford them, I'll buy five pairs of jeans in search of the one perfect pair. I may only spend twenty bucks, and have five pairs of name-brand jeans, but who needs them? Who can store them? Who has the lifestyle to support five pairs of name-brand jeans? Not me. And to be real, I probably have three times that, because I have my normal jeans, my pregnant jeans, and my fat jeans wardrobe. Also a skinny jeans wardrobe, just in case.
So there, I have clothed myself, and all my potential selves, on a dime. Yay me.
The kids went to their grandparents' recently so my husband and I could go see Tree of Life. It was a great movie, a beautiful and thought-provoking movie, but one of the nagging thoughts it provoked in me is that the mama in the movie was awfully well-dressed for having so little money. How did she do it? How did she live a life with kids in Texas, always wearing pretty dresses, and never breaking a sweat? Would she have held such an angelic presence in her son's childhood memories if she had spent her days in work-out clothes rather than ethereal skirts? Or if she'd gone out running instead of waiting at home for opportunities to administer loving caresses to whomever would receive them?
I have a wonderful imaginary life about being that kind of a mother.
For the date with my husband, I'd worn a skirt and heels. It was one of those occasions I hold in my mind when I'm shopping; the holy grail of occasions for which to get dressed; my husband and I are going out on the town; we're going to dinner and a show, and I can dress up. Mission accomplished.
The best part of our date was in the morning, however, when my husband and I got up at 6 a.m. and went for a run together. The air was thick and muggy, even at that early hour, and visible moisture deposits floated over the soybean fields. We were both dripping within minutes, and breathing too heavily even to speak. But by the time we made it back to the house, we were both feeling the endorphins and the mutual relief of having worked for our rest. We sat on the front porch to cool down. We said our prayers. When the sweat dried, we drank coffee. Then he had to get going to work, and I to pick up our children.
And it occurs to me that the real life that our particular family prefers living is one that doesn't accommodate fine clothes, and needs actually, very few clothes at all. I am a less involved and loving mother when I'm done up like a movie star.
So away with the Tods loafers, and twenty other pairs of shoes I've collected over the years. Away with five purses. Away with three pairs of boots, with six pairs of earrings, with a scarf, two skirts, two aprons, and a number of tops. The consignment shop took about 2/3rds of my offerings, and priced the entire lot at somewhere near $200, of which, if it all sells, I stand to make half. It's not really a way to get rich, buying clothes and reselling them. But it's not a way to be free, compulsively shopping and stuffing things in any available space in the house.
I don't want to be a vulture anymore.
Elizabeth Duffy is a freelance writer and author of the blog, "Betty Duffy." Her writing has appeared online at Faith and Family, the Korrektiv Press Blog, and numerous other venues. She and her husband live in rural Indiana with their five children.