Back To Life BC

Photo by Mike Petrucci on Unsplash

When I was a teenager in the 80s, I hung out at the mall. I played in the arcade, had the occasional strawberry julius drink from the Orange Julius store, bought Smurfs and clothes there, but mostly I went hoping to run into cute boys I knew from our church who lived nearby. It was pretty much like the mall scenes in Stranger Things, except there was no demogorgon. After I graduated college, I worked retail in a Mervyn’s store in a mall in Boulder for three years. All of this is to say that malls and I go way back.

Like my younger self, I went to hang out at the mall tonight. I haven’t spent any measurable time in this nearby mall for about two years. I’ve picked things up from there while I remained in my car. I’ve walked into the Lego store for about 3 minutes, masked of course, to look for a coveted set. I know many people have not eschewed malls during the pandemic the way I have. I know many people haven’t blinked an eye about going out indoors in public spaces unmasked, but we had Covid-19 in our house a year ago and I’ve spent the past year trying to avoid getting it again. Tonight, though, my husband and I threw caution to the wind because there was holiday shopping to be done, so we spent a whole hour inside Park Meadows Mall. We went for the last hour the stores were open, so it wasn’t busy like it will be this weekend or the weekend after that, but we were not the only ones who had the same idea.

Once we came through the hallway from the parking lot and hit the main part of the mall it all felt familiar again. The wafting scents from the Nordstrom perfume counter took me right back. It might sound strange, but I took a mindful moment to inhale and be present. I was out in a mall for heaven’s sake. Being a strongly introverted person, I normally don’t enjoy shopping surrounded by other people so I took to pandemic shopping on the Internet from my home like a Labrador Retriever takes to water. But tonight hubby and I actually enjoyed being in and looking around a mall. We spent most of our time in, ironically enough, the Amazon 4-Star store (I had no idea such a thing existed) and a local boutique looking for unique gifts and stocking stuffers. It’s amazing what you miss when you shop with determination rather than curiosity.

In the end, we left with some fun finds we can’t wait to share with our family and friends and the conclusion that we will probably have to return some night next week to finish the shopping we started. We left with something else too, the feeling that maybe it’s time to start getting out a bit more…within reason and as Delta and Omicron allow. We are fully vaccinated and boosted. We can still do the things at off-peak times and find a bit of normalcy. To that end, we’ve also started booking travel for 2022 because we need to move on. If we end up having to cancel because of travel restrictions, we’ll fall off that bridge then.

We’ve had a taste of the freedom of our old lives BC (before Covid), and I think we kind of liked it. Life goes on.

Always Bring A Buddy

The dress that stressed me out.

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been engaged in a monumental battle. I have been trying to figure out what to wear to a wedding. As I’ve mentioned previously, fashion is not my strong suit. When it comes to fashion I’m like a politician: I know just enough about it to sound knowledgeable, but in actuality I am utterly clueless. This marked lack of the female fashion gene makes doing simple things, like buying a dress to wear to a wedding, a veritable nightmare for me.

Humor me while I prove my point. A couple weeks ago, I steeled my nerves and stepped foot into the dress department at Nordstrom. My goal was to find a dress that relayed that I have the style, class, and confidence befitting a 44 year old woman. Yes. I wanted a dress that would lie. I wanted a magic dress. If Cinderella could have magic shoes, certainly I could have a magic dress. I brought with me only two things…a knowledge of what I like and a knowledge of what looks good on me. I had no idea what constitutes appropriate attire for a fall, evening wedding in Boston. I had no idea what size I wore. I had no idea where to start. I took a leap of faith.

I spent a little over an hour in Nordstrom’s dress department that day, trying on approximately 14 dresses, and eventually leaving the store feeling fairly confident that I had made a good choice. I brought the dress home, put it in my closet, and began staring at my shoe collection (which is really more a flip-flop collection). That was when I realized I had surmounted the terror of dress shopping only to land myself smack in the middle of a worse problem. I now had to buy shoes to match my dress. Holy hell. Being the fashion dolt I am, I spent the next week shopping for shoes to match my beautiful dress. I visited four stores to no avail and ultimately ended up ordering four pairs online to try on and choose from. When they arrived and I decided I needed help determining which of two pairs of shoes to wear with my lovely dress, I texted a few of my fashion savvy friends some photos to get their opinions. It was, I thought, the final step in my shopping process. I was wrong. Two friends liked one pair of shoes. Another liked a different one. Momentary confusion. But, wait…majority rules, right? It was fine. I took a deep breath. And then, just when I thought the decision was made, the unthinkable happened. The waters got muddied.

Rebecca: For an evening wedding, and it might be cold, I would wear tights.

Tights? Tights did not figure into my equation when I was shoe shopping. I had purchased only peep toe pumps to try on. While I know it’s now a widely accepted practice to wear tights with peep toes, my head began to throb. I found myself short of breath. I went looking for a paper bag.

Me: I want to cry. I can’t picture that dress with tights. I’m stressed out.

Rebecca: Don’t cry. You totally have time to figure that out.

Me: I thought I HAD figured it out. That’s why I want to cry. It took me a long time to pick the dress. Then I had to order shoes. Now I see I went the wrong direction.

Being the wonderful friend she is, Rebecca held my hand (all the way from Illinois, mind you) through my mental breakdown. I told her about the other dress I had considered buying. She thought it might be a better way to go. So, I ran back to Nordstrom, tried on the dress, and texted her a photo. It was a go. Next stop: shoe shopping. Over the course of three days, I texted Rebecca about 10 photos of booties and pumps. She helped me choose a couple suitable pairs, one that could be worn with tights and one that could be worn without. I would no longer have to freeze if it was a cold day in Boston. Today, a full two weeks after what began as a simple trip to buy a dress for a wedding, I finally feel like I have an appropriate outfit. Finally. Now all I have to do is find jewelry, a purse, and a wrap. Insert eye roll.

The point of this whole blog, and I do have one, is that the old rule “always bring your buddy” is crucial. Most things in life are better executed with a friend along. Fashion, apparently, is no different. All these years I have been shopping incorrectly because I’ve been going it alone. Big mistake. In the future, I will try to remember that sometimes my independent streak needs to be tamed. Sometimes I need to accept that it’s okay to get by with a little help from your friends. The buddy system was created for a reason. It’s good for safety, sanity, and shopping. Who knew?

(PS…My darling husband said I should keep both dresses. I agreed.)