Believe it or not, shopping relaxes me. I know, it sounds crazy but its true. Just walking into a single brick and mortar store or even a mall brimming with every store imaginable, immediately gives me a sense of peace. I often wonder how it can seem so daunting to other people while I find it similar to therapy. If I am stressed out or just need to unwind, my automatic reaction is to head to the nearest retailer. Marshall's and TJ Maxx are my regular go-to's however, any boutique off the beaten path would work!
I think part of the reason I find it so calming is because I have such great memories attached to it. I wasn't born in the mall, but I definitely feel a strong genetic pull from the warm feelings it offers me. Special moments with my mother, sister and grandmother have always been the result of this lifelong habit and it began quite early for me. As a very young girl, shopping in downtown Syracuse at Sibleys and Dey Brothers started it. My mom, sister and I would pick up my grandmother, and her wheelchair and take her shopping. Her arthritis required her to have some extra assistance for the days outing so while waiting for my mom to help her get settled in the car, I would entertain myself by wheeling around, until we were ready to head out on our routine Saturday excursion.
A WINNING TEAM
If shopping was considered a sport in high school, I would have won all kinds of awards. Most Dedicated, Last to Leave, Marathon Miler and even Most Improved! My sister and I thought that's what ALL girls did every Saturday! Apparently NOT! Window shopping as well as inspecting the merchandise's fit and style by trying on one thing after another to find just the perfect piece was considered normal behavior for us.
Clothing, shoes, accessories and cosmetics, were all level playing fields. Saturday was like our game days. We would cheer each other on for good finds or put out encouraging phrases like,"maybe another store has it!" for a less successful trip. AND, if there was such a thing as a "retail coach," my mom could have easily taken us all the way to the Championship! Nothing could bring her down!
However, as fun as it was and still is to purchase the right find, the day was more about enjoying and appreciating the whole experience rather than what we were or were not buying. A nice lunch at Carmella's Cafe where I sipped my first cappuccino, was always a welcomed transition in between where we had just been and still needed to go.
The shopping scene gradually changed and new stores like Bolton's on Erie Boulevard, and the Dewitt Mall were favored replacements. Walking through Addis & Dey's and admiring all the things I couldn't afford gave me the opportunity to be creative with what I did have, so it was still a win.
Testing designer fragrances on white slips of paper was a customary practice as well. And the exposure to all kinds of people, places and beautiful displays was also an added benefit. It was enjoyable because my mom made it that way. It was an outlet for her and us. An invited break from the daily obligations of everyday life and commitments. All that to be said, not everything about it was perfect...
As I think back, I'm surprised certain experiences didn't shake my enthusiasm and loyalty to this pastime. Things like shared fitting rooms in boutiques with all shapes, sizes and ages for one. Had I known I was looking at my inevitable future, I would have paid a little closer attention to what I should expect! Witnessing girdles being put on and off like some kind of Houdini act and feeling confused as a young girl about why anyone would wear such things, doesn't seem so puzzling in my late 40's. Additionally, my mother had an intense fear of heights and struggled with going on the escalators, SO, on the days when my grandmother wasn't able to go with us, I instead, had to ride down the escalator holding someone else's grandmothers hand! That wasn't weird at all!!! Good times!
But, even with those unique practices, it's always been a happy time for me. I'm fortunate that my daughters enjoy it as much as I do and now we take my mother with us. And just like when I was a child, the conversations and togetherness are normally the highlight of the day. I anticipate the places we shop at will continue to change but the remedy it brings to a crazy day or week will always remain the same. Pausing and inhaling in a place that gives you contentment can be anywhere for anyone, but for me the perfect escape involves the sights, smells, and sounds of retail therapy!