Friday, August 16, 2013

It's Not About the Stuff

I've made no claims to be religious, but I am a spiritual person.
I have boatloads of faith.
I know things happen for a reason.
I know there is a greater power at work which is comfortable to me, and I see no desire to question it.

That being said, I think there is spirituality and healing powers in ...

... music. The louder, the better.
... fellowship. The louder, the older, the better.
... mint-flavored lip gloss.
... coffee. At home, drive-through, front porch, gas station, The House That Built Me, airport, dock.
... magazine subscriptions.
... sun. Sunlight, sunshine, sunblock, sunflowers, sun rays, sun salutations, sun dogs, sun roofs.
... and shopping. I mean, Target? Can I get an amen?

My own Mama and I have a long-standing history of shopping.
She's definitely not a thing-wanter or self-purchaser. For her, shopping meets a few of her basic needs. Deals, deals, deals, and shopping for the others, the ones she loves best.
From the time I was very young, this has worked to my advantage!

On her seventh day on this fine planet, my own Mama and I took the Lil' Dude on her very first shopping trip. We dressed her as a reindeer (I still stand by that decision) and pushed her through the mall. It was baptism by fire, really. If she's from my loins, she's gonna love her some shopping. And mostly, she has. There was that one time last spring when she and I were deep in the trenches, summer clothes shopping and wedding shopping and Mother's Day and Grandmas' birthdays' shopping when she sighed and said, I wish I was golfing with Daddy. I recoiled like I had been slapped.

Then I did was any self-respecting Mama would do and bribed her with a trip to Target's golden aisles of toys with a $10-bill upon compliance. (I also still stand by that decision)

Yesterday, yesterday was another day of firsts. We school shopped for the first time together, just Mama and daughter. We were hitting on cylinders of my holy testament with loads of sunshine, lots of coffee, and music; in fact at her discretion, we blasted AWOLNATION'S Sail on repeat all afternoon.

It was a glorious, rad day.

But, one with lesson woven through its fabric.

Shopping, by definition, is about stuff. The buying and selling and acquiring of cash or goods. Yes.

But what it means to me is different. It's about the time and the people. Something my own Mama instilled in me all those years ago I began shopping with her. If it's about the stuff, you're doing it wrong. In fact, I remember my senior year of college, that Friday in March when I called home to say I was en route- spring break meant going home to my childhood house. As ever, my own Mama and I had plans as we did annually for spring break, to shop our faces off at the midwest's largest mall.

When she answered, she was anticipating my call.
And she was crying.
Oh dear God, who? Is all I wanted to know.

The paper mill closed today and Dad lost his job. 

Oh. Well? I stood in my rented kitchen with the wall phone, age 21 and on the cusp of adulthood and completely unprepared for it, by the way, waiting. "Oh. Now what?"

Well you come home and we'll all talk about it, but we can't go shopping this weekend. I am so sorry.

No, no shit. That really hadn't crossed my mind. How could it hers?
That's what happens when you become a parent. Their stuff is now your stuff. She was anticipating my shock, sadness.

By the time I arrived home, a few hours later, my Dad had received a few calls from headhunters, etc. and was appearing nonplussed as his is ever-loving nature. My own Mama was still pacing and big-picturing the shit out of it all. We didn't shop that weekend. We didn't need to. It's not about the stuff.

And a few months later, on the very same June morning, my Dad and I both began new jobs and new chapters in our lives. When I called him from the floor of my walk-in closet that morning, he 3 hours away from his family at a new job, new town, and dealing with his own stuff, he walked me through my mine. I'll never forget that conversation. He ended the call with, "Now you and Mom can go shopping to celebrate your success! Get you some real world clothes and maybe a Palm Pilot."

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