Thursday, January 11, 2024

Clothes maketh the sequel

I hate shopping for clothes, so much so that I wrote a blog post about that some three months ago. Yesterday, I finally made it out to pick up some bits and pieces for my trip, especially some clothes I talked about in that October post. It sure wasn’t easy.

My first stop was Farmers, a New Zealand department store chain. It’s one of the few places I’ve felt relatively okay shopping at—when I’m in the proper frame of mind, and apparently I wasn’t in one yesterday. I looked around at some stuff, but wasn’t really taken with what I was seeing. Some things were “kinda, sorta okay”, but Farmers isn’t cheap—nor the top of the market in pricing, either. I kept thinking that I’d be paying a lot of money to just settle.

The longer I looked, the more uncomfortable and anxious I felt, and I couldn’t work out what would look nice on me. I thought about asking one of the 20-something guys working there to help me not look like a grandpa trying to look like a “fellow kid”. Then, I became more anxious as I caught glimpses of myself reflected in the large mirrors on some of the support pillars. What I saw was a grandpa looking for stuff to look like my “fellow kids”.

Next, I saw an older man shopping. He was roughly my age, give or take, though his grey hair was mostly white, and my hair is still mostly its natural colour (whiskers notwithstanding at the moment). I thought he didn’t look any happier than I felt, and noticed he didn’t find anything other than a shirt. However, I also noticed that he was carrying a shopping bag from another shop, one Nigel used to shop at, and that shop was also recommended to me recently. I decided to go there, even if all I got from it was to get some physical space, away from the source of my stress, so I could calm down.

At the next store, a worker asked me if I needed help, and then helped me find what I was looking for at Farmers: A couple pairs of shorts and a pair of casual pants. The prices at the second store were somewhat higher than at Farmers, but I got what I was looking for, not things that were just “kinda, sorta okay”.

However, I still needed to get a swimsuit and a rash shirt, part of the reason I went to Farmers in the first place (I looked on their website and saw a set I liked, and it was on special). Even so, I (very) briefly thought about just going home, but I’d calmed down after finding the shorts and pants, so I went back to Farmers.

I was looking around and a woman who seemed to be the department manager asked if I needed help, and then led me to the display of the swimsuits and rash shirts I was looking for. I tried on the swimsuit I thought would fit (it did), but I tried on two rash shirts so I could get the size that felt the most comfortable (it was the one I thought it’d be). It was reassuring that I correctly guessed what would fit.

After I was done at the mall, I went to the nearby hardware/home centre to pick up a few things related to my trip. I also had a couple other things delivered today, things I ordered from a New Zealand online retailer because I couldn’t find what I wanted in the shops. Those are “nice to haves”, so price was important.

Yesterday I still had plenty of time to get the things I needed, so in that sense the shopping adventure wasn’t urgent—but that’s precisely why I wanted to do get it done. Getting it out of the way gives me more time to get some other things done.

I know, because I know myself well, that if I’d been in the right frame of mind yesterday, it wouldn’t have been stressful. The holidays delayed my trip: I hate the mall when it’s crowded. However, this week was back-to-work for most people, and that meant the mall was far less busy than only a couple weeks earlier. That was my final motivation to head out yesterday.

This is the first time in the past 4+ years that I’ve needed to get clothes with a deadline looming over me. Normally, I occasionally look for new versions of things I need to replace because they’re worn out, or I might just kind of browse in a shop, maybe buying something, but probably not—just like what I imagine most people do, and what I know Nigel did.

I’ve talked before about the disconnect between how old I feel and how old I actually am, and the time I’m most aware of that is in the weeks before my birthday—like now, for example. Five years ago, I needed some clothes for my 60th birthday party, and felt similarly stressed—except that Nigel was there to help me and advise me. This time, I just had to push through it, and going to that second store was critical to doing that.

Longer term, I have to find ways to feel more comfortable in my own skin. I know, though, that all the happy, peppy talk from others to grow old gracefully (or disgracefully, even…) is absolutely useless for me and will be until I feel more settled in myself.

Much of this is because my life was ripped to shreds when Nigel died, and my sense of self went, too. Rebuilding ME is what I’m working on right now. Sometimes that means finding strategies to get through momentary challenges, but longer term it’ll mean finding ways to deal with the underlying issues. Maybe I just need to buy clothes more often. Yeah, well, not for awhile, thanks. I feel makethed enough for now.

1 comment:

Roger Owen Green said...

I HATE buying clothes and I have since having to go to the husky section at Robert Hall as a kid.b