Lately, shopping, for me, is more about buying than having.
I shop not necessarily because I want to own whatever item I happen to covet this second -- whether it be a leather jacket or a juicer -- rather, because I want to be the type of person who would have such things. Buying the canvas tote bag puts me one step closer to being a juice-drinking earth-conscious health type. Or maybe I could be tea-drinking academic, found in used bookstores and reading nooks. All I need is that notebook made from reclaimed leather and a fountain pen.
Lately, I’m the commodity.
I have this clothing rack next to my bed. Steel, overflowing, it’s an eyesore, really, an ugly reminder of my lack of self-control, my pathetic, surface attempts at change. I had to buy it when my two (two!) walk-in-closets looked more like a site waiting for disaster relief from the Red Cross than a place of sartorial splendor. I walk past the clothing rack every day on my way to my crisis zone of a closet to grab my faded black jeans and a black sweater before I dig out my beaten up black Acne boots from a pile of unworn heels.
I should mention I also have to walk past my two bikes, from two separate phases -- one sporty, one environmental -- which are nearing their total conversion into more clothing racks.
Bloggers are bragging about their 5-piece wardrobes. Perhaps, for them, it’s a reaction to cheap, fast fashion. Maybe there’s an economic incentive: a way to have the one Celine cashmere sweater instead of three Forever 21-stocked wardrobes. I get these impulses, but that’s not what’s motivation me. For me, it’s about the messed up yet oddly compelling notion that I can buy my way to a new self.
I’ve had this habit forever: new notebooks and pens before 4th grade, new sneakers before summer camp. Somewhere along the line, the act of purchasing got confused with the possibility of change.
I buy moisturizer and don’t use it until I’ve “earned” the right to have good skin -- yes, it’s as twisted as it sounds. I do the same things with shoes, pens, brands of yogurt. These items are for Kayla 2.0 and she will wear them when she’s ready. It works both ways: the shoes and blush will also make me better.
Better how? Sometimes it’s simple: I’ll get thinner, fit into the Maje leather pants, and everything will change. Sometimes it’s a bit more complicated: I’ll wear the maxi-print dress when I am more carefree, and I’ll have the type fun that only carefree people can. I’ll probably find a boyfriend with a ponytail. I’ll go to every single class and take impeccable notes in my new moleskin.
So this New Year’s, instead of vowing to lose five pounds or only eat vegetables or never drink caffeine or alcohol again -- promises of a new self that definitely require a new wardrobe, I’m just going to stop.
I’m not buying anything. I’m not buying new blazers to feel more put together on the inside; I’m not buying jeans a size too small to motivate me to fit into them; I’m not buying notebooks or shoes or coffee table books or dried flowers or new linens or new toys for Leo, my cat.
Next semester, my last of college, I’m going to rip out the few pages of notes I took and walk in on day one with an already-fraying notebook and a pen with a chewed-up cap. Look for me, I’ll be wearing the Maje leather pants that may or may not fit exactly as I want them to with a sweater I dug out from my "Maybe I’ll be rustic chic” pile.