Tonight, I wandered into a giant Forever 21. I was by myself, talking long-distance with my dad through my earbuds. We were deep into one of our political conversations. It’s a rousing game of word tennis that we play — an amicable exchange. I love this about my relationship with my dad.
I had been wandering along Southern California Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage when he called me. Equipped with my Sony camera and a bottle of water, I intended to enjoy the California sunshine for as long as possible this evening. Near the end of our chat, the sun had fallen behind the San Jacinto mountains, and a big glass box emblazoned with FOREVER21 beckoned me.
As I wandered inside, the raucous music of the younger retail stores was blocked out by our conversation. I felt strangely calm, periodically assessing something for its feasibility (and often shaking my head at the impracticality of so many items).
A beautiful thing happened: the typical thrill of shopping was absent. I often feel a certain thirsty zeal when I’m in a retail environment. My eyes gobble up the array of fabrics and patterns and options — simultaneously energized and overwhelmed. I’m drawn in by all the potential people I can be. A bohemian? A little retro glam? Perfectly girly in a frilly top? Maybe sporty spice in this raglan shirt?
I am not just looking for clothing, I’m looking for myself. My identity. I’m looking for ways to transform, become a better version of myself.
Or at least, I was. Maybe things really are different now. I certainly hope so.
Dad said goodnight; it was late in Pennsylvania. My earbuds defaulted to the Jerry Paper song that had been playing before he called me. How pleasant to continue ignoring the overbearing bass of Forever’s soundtrack. How pleasant to ignore the allure of new clothing.
Walking back to my hotel, I stopped at Five Guys for a cheeseburger with all the fixins’. I toggled through the photos I had taken on my Sony of Ranchito Conchito (a tiny stone house that happens to be the oldest in Rancho Mirage). I felt strangely peaceful.