The Rusty Sword of Shopping
Things I Can Still Manage to Live Without
It’s been a long time since I’ve done any “power shopping.” Pre-minimalist Meg owned shopping, had it down to an art form. I knew where to go to find nearly anything, the best places for selection and price, and the best places for the unusual or unexpected. There were many times I’d get a vision for changing a room’s decor, or turn the need for one thing into an excuse to change over many things, because I’d spot something in one store that made me think of something that would work well with it that I saw at another store, and, well, it would take on a life of its own. Sometimes I’d stumble across irresistible things priced so cheaply that I’d dine out on tales of my bargains. I had many friends who did the same thing, so we loved to share our experiences. Once I went cold-turkey with the shopping, however, that part of my life/consciousness took on a weird solitude. It doesn’t really bother me, though–in fact the serenity is welcome.
At the moment the dining room table is covered with booty from yesterday’s shopping expedition, not as a result of falling off the wagon, but because we had a little extra cash for replacing some items around here that were becoming ridiculously shabby. The haul consists of a new throw rug for the front door to replace the 15 year old one that has no more washes or rubber backing left in it; a dish rack and drainboard to replace the one that is rusting; flat sheets for sewing new duvet covers to replace the ones that have repairs on the repairs; a down alternative blanket to replace my comforter in the summer (plus a different kind of sleepwear, because I am a woman of a certain age and it is difficult to stay asleep at night, and if I don’t start getting some better sleep soon I shall go medieval on your ass); and a pair of those lawn chairs that fold up and fit into bags that can be slung over the shoulder, because our old $9 standard ones are literally falling apart, and now that we have a lovely new park with lots of free concerts just two blocks away, these constitute our “tickets” to good times (and yes, I know a true minimalist would just throw a blanket down on the ground, but after an hour on the ground, my body screams “f**k the minimalism, give us a chair already”).
In my shopping prime this conquest would have taken about an hour, tops, because I would have known exactly where to find the stuff on my list, known the price range, and would not have worried about getting things exactly right because I wouldn’t be bothered by clutter or wasting money or time from having to return things. This is no longer the case. This haul, plus a little bit of grocery shopping, took six hours, all right here in this small town, no store more than ten minutes away. In fact, I made two sweeps of the stores, one a scouting trip where I tried to locate what I needed and compare the prices, then the purchasing trip, which I did after having a brief decision-making lemonade break. Clearly I was out of the habit of making these kinds of purchasing decisions!
I went into stores that I normally avoid like the plague because they used to be temples of temptation–and came out with nothing, not even wanting anything else in them. Stores that once carried a variety of the items I needed no longer carried such a variety. I was amazed at how much had changed in two years. The dish drainer set that I needed, for example, could not be found at any of the department or specialty stores, but it turned up at a big chain hardware/home improvement store, the last place I looked. I went into the hardware store to look for the lawn chairs, but they only had these really expensive ugly ones that look like recycled ‘Murrcan flags. I found the chairs at Target when I went there for some groceries. On the up side, a little bit of online research resulted in some coupons for a department store that is usually outside my price range, and I got two $50 rugs for $17 each, one for the front door as planned, and the other, at my husband’s insistence, for my tootsies in front of the sofa (yes, true minimalists have totally bare floors, but come winter my feet will say “f**k the minimalism, deal with this cold draft already”).
We needed new duvet covers desperately, but not only was the selection very picked-over, the prices of what I could find in three different stores were staggering. I knew I could get them cheaper online, but I prefer to actually feel the fabric that I’m considering placing next to my skin at night. Our current sheet sets have unused flat sheets, so I decided to whip out the old sewing machine and make new duvet covers for the price of a couple of extra flat sheets. Savings: $70, plus decluttered by putting unused sheets to work. The down alternative blanket was something I’ve been thinking about for a couple of years now, and when I spotted one on clearance, I took it as a green light from my old pals the Shopping Angels. Savings: $85. My old shopping self would have been impressed by the savings, but not by the amount of time it now took.
Shopping like this after a long moratorium was quite unsettling, a bit like being overstimulated, maybe like downing a Sudafed with a Turkish coffee; I had some really weird dreams last night, including one where I did indeed go batshit crazy and came home with six pairs of platform shoes, a Bowflex, and a daisy tattoo (analyze that one, if you will, as I have no desire for any of this in real life). As I remove tags and put things away and get the duvet covers sewn, I can only shake my head in amazement that a shopping crusade of this scale was no big deal for me a couple of years ago. I’m also amazed by the amount of waste generated by the bags, packaging, receipts and flyers. To my chagrin, I was still tempted by a couple of other things that I came across during my expedition, things that would have been real treats, but are unessential. It’s a sign to once again shut the shopping door nice and tight, lock it, and throw away the key.
How about you? Have you experienced amazement or weird reactions after shopping or any activity that is no longer a regular part of your life? Did it threaten to awaken the sleeping dragon?