It's August 1, the first day of my self-imposed regalia retreat...garment getaway...retail jail. [Okay--I think "retail jail" is a bit much, having watched the first season of "Orange is the New Black" on Netflix, which I highly recommend. I don't want to make light of even a minimum security prison experience. Ironically, though, at "Litchfield Prison," an other-corner-of-Connecticut stand-in for Danbury, known for being Martha Stewart's temporary abode, solitary confinement is known as "the shoe," which is actually "SHU," which stands for "Secure Housing Unit," and given that my retail jail experience involves divesting myself of shoes and avoiding shoe purchases, well, it's hard not to make that particular idiomatic connection. Anyway...]
What did I do during the last few days leading up to August 1? I didn't make it easy on myself. I spent time in two cities, Burlington and Montreal, that have some nice boutiques and shoe stores. I managed to avoid them all. My last purchase prior to the boutique banishment? I made a trip to the Jockey store in the outlet mall in Essex, VT. I won't go into details. Let's just say that I do own certain items of clothing that eventually wear out and need to be replaced, and like a lot of us, I stick with what I know.
I have to be honest, though. There is something oddly liberating about having made this deal with myself (and publicized it to the world; that is, the portion of the world that might read this blog). I have now given myself a built-in excuse for walking past those boutiques, for recycling those catalogs, for ignoring those really cute boots in the window at Dear Lucy, a most excellent Church St., Burlington, shoe store. "I can't buy anything." That's what I find myself saying. As though some external force has been imposed on me. Huh. Imagine you have a real passion for a particular food--say, chocolate. But one day, you develop an allergy to it. And so when you see that nice chunk of Cadbury, or even Hershey's, it's not even an option. You simply can't eat it. Do you miss it? Sure. But you don't have a choice. I have taken choice away from myself. Again: huh. I mean, I made the choice to do so, right?
I am now caught in a complete existential pretzel knot.
I was talking with one of Betsy's friends about this (after Betsy brought it up over dinner. I'm not planning to make a habit of sharing this adventure with everyone I meet). I was telling her about an anti-hero hero of mine, Eustace Conway. Eustace was the subject of a wonderful Elizabeth Gilbert ("Eat, Pray, Love") book that came out in 2002, "The Last American Man." He is the owner of a beautiful 100 or so acres in North Carolina's High Country, where I used to live. His land, which is called Turtle Island, is carefully preserved, a pristine stretch in the midst of ridiculous gated communities that dot the Blue Ridge Mountains and separate holler from holler. Eustace is a staunch conservationist of sorts who uses his land as a classroom to teach sustainable living. Eustace says that the politically correct mantra of "Reduce, reuse, recyle" doesn't go far enough, that we need to add two more R's: "refuse and reconsider." If we don't have the object to begin with, we don't have to reduce, reuse or recycle it. Of course, this doesn't work for all objects, but geez-it sure does for clothes. And various household items like Tupperware and bookcases. And the pretty things I see in a craft gallery that might look nice in my living room...except I like supporting artists. Hutch! Shari! Can you, my downsizing heroes, help me out here?
Back in the pretzel knot. Damn.
I do just want to say that there is no truth to the rumor that Zappos stock has plummeted since my first post on this blog. There are still plenty of good folks out there who are shopping for perfectly good reasons. I, however, will not be one of them until February 2. And who knows? Maybe my boot jones will have disappeared. Till then, I'll keep on this particular adventure. Adventure? As a character in "Orange is the New Black" says, "'Adventure' is just hardship with an inflated sense of self-importance." And this isn't really 'hardship,' is it? It's just, to paraphrase Julia Roberts in "Notting Hill", "A girl, standing in front of her closet, asking it to forgive her."