The only time I feel 100% fulfilled is when I’m shopping. I experience a heartwarming excitement that I imagine others feel when they win a prestigious award or lay eyes on their baby for the first time.
I step into Anthropologie and begin sweating a pleasant, nonintrusive sweat. Like it’s May and perhaps I’m wearing one too many light layers. My eyes sparkle and my lips assume a demure smile as I greet everyone I pass. “Darling skirt! It suits your figure.”
I use the word “Darling.”
I gaze upon a feminine field of promise: bows, ribbons, lace, florals, pins, buttons, clips, patterns, prints, textures, knits, jewels. The potential to transform myself into someone else is overwhelming. I almost faint. I am elevated to a state of pure enlightenment. I am all-knowing. I understand the meaning of life. I could solve the world’s problems. I could cure cancer if a scientist would just find me here, downstairs in Accessories.
I waltz about the store and collect items in my size, making a show of the expensive, heavy load of clothing on my arm. An expensive, heavy load that will make me feel secure and pretty. Maybe even superior. “Oh, yes,” I laugh to the salesgirl, impressed with my own adorableness. “I’d love a shopping bag.”
I climb the grand spiral staircase and round the corner to an abrupt halt. The sight before me brings me to tears. It hurts to stare directly at something so beautiful. My heart opens and love flows out, then I feel it come back to me. I have met my soul mate. I have found my perfect match. I have seen the face of God, and He looks strikingly like a wool-angora dress coat with an exaggerated shawl collar.
I discover it’s in a size 8 and I levitate. I drop my bags and disrobe in the center of the store. Love like this can’t wait for a fitting room. I slide my arms through the fabric, one by one, my pulse quickening as I fasten the vintage porcelain buttons. I brace myself as I turn to face the mirror. A cry escapes my mouth as I see myself as I’m meant to be. The coat must have been made for me; it hugs my curves and masks my flaws. The ones that can be covered by a coat, at least.
I float to the register and bask in the staff’s congratulatory praise as they commend my taste. They all have the same coat at home, of course. “Isn’t it sweet?” the androgynous blond asks, anthropomorphizing an article of clothing as if it were a puppy that wants to cuddle.
“It is,” I agree, petting it.
I glide out the door and onto the sidewalk. I fall into step with my fellow New Yorkers. I love this city and everyone in it. I love life. I love myself.
My skin shimmers with productivity and a sense of accomplishment. I feel a Hero’s Glory. It’s like I’ve single-handedly rescued prisoners of war, and I can wear them tomorrow to work. For the next hour, I sigh more than usual. I’m dazed and tranquil. My cheeks flaunt the most gentle blush, suggesting I’m experiencing a runner’s high or engaging in post-coital reflection. Neither. This is better.
It’s the kind of feeling some pay $300 an eighth for, only much more expensive and gentler on the nose.