One of the most annoying things that people can tell you when you’re unhappily single is “As soon as you’re not looking for love, it will come” or “Love shows up when you least expect it.” I don’t know if that’s really true when it comes to romantic relationships, but it definitely applies to another area of my life: shopping.
I’ve never been a great shopper. I’m not at all a “shop til you drop” person, unless that phrase refers to someone who “drops” after 2 hours, maybe even less. And I think one of the reasons I drop so quickly is that it doesn’t take long for me to figure out if it will be successful or not. I have feast-or-famine experiences, and do you know what almost guarantees the “feast”? When I’m not actually trying to find anything.
When I’m not looking for anything in particular, the shopping gods see fit to shower me with unexpected blessings. This unfortunately often happens while I’m shopping with one of my sisters who is desperately trying to find some particular item of clothing. While she has no success, I’ve managed to find about 10 things, all on clearance. Or even worse, they find all those things for me. I’ve even had a fairy godmother appear. Once, whilst examining peacoats at Old Navy, a complete stranger came up to me and said, “That purple coat would look great on you.” And you know what? It did. I’ve owned it ever since.
But woe to me if I actually am trying to find something specific, because that pretty much always means that it’s going to be a long, dark day. If I’m trying to find one certain thing, particularly clothing or shoes (x1000 if it’s for an interview, x1,000,000 if it’s for bridesmaid attire), I will never, ever find it. This is deeply discouraging and depressing, as that also means that I will have to spend hours trying clothes on in the fitting rooms. Truly, do people ever look worse than they do in a fitting room? The lighting is always creepily dim, exacerbating your deteriorating looks as your hair becomes increasingly unruly from pulling so many things over your head. It’s the worst. (If you are anticipating an experience like this, especially if it happens to be on what is supposed to be “date night” with your husband, I highly recommend going to a mall that also happens to have a World of Beer so you can drown your sorrows and reward him for his patience. Except you should have cider, because beer is gross. Not that I have ever done this, or anything.)
Because of this whole you’ll-find-it-when-you’re-not-looking-for-it principle, Christmas shopping especially stresses me out. It means that I am literally looking for specific things for dozens of people. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE giving people gifts if I happen to come across something that I know would be perfect for them. But when I NEED to find something within a specific time frame, that’s almost guaranteed not to happen. And to make it worse, I’m not even good at generating my own Christmas list. Again, I will often come across something and say, “I would LOVE that,” but put me on the spot and it’s like a mental breakdown. What I really need to do is be one of those amazing people who buys presents throughout the year for Christmas, as they find them, but I haven’t gotten my act together yet.
Until then, I guess I’ll just have to pretend that I don’t actually need anything that I’m looking for, to trick the universe into giving me what I want. Two can play at this game. And if it helps me become a more chill person in general, that would be even better. Otherwise I see a lot more date night shopping trips in my future.