I have been thinking a lot lately about STUFF.
Like, not that I've been generally thinking about all sorts of things, but I've actually been thinking about all the junk that is acquired in life. That kind of STUFF.
I think it started when I remembered that my Christmas tree is down in our "storage unit" (the quotation marks because it is rather more like a dog kennel than a storage unit, but there it is nonetheless) and I got to thinking: what ELSE of mine is in the storage unit?
And the answer? I have no idea. No. Idea. I assume I put more than a Christmas tree down there...it can't ALL just be Joe's action figures and golf clubs, can it?
And that got me realizing--what if all that stuff disappeared? Would I even remember it existed? And why do I continue to schlep things around from apartment to apartment and then shove them into closets? I mean, besides the awesome surprise factor you get when you open a box and see all the things you forgot about. "Oh YEAH! The lease from my apartment two years ago and magnet backing! Well, I've got to keep this around just in case. Just gunna shove this on in next to the neon green slinky here aaaaaand perfect fit."
My need to collect STUFF was diminished greatly when I lost my job in '09. Suddenly my money was better spent on annoying things like shelter and sustenance and The Internet. At first, I wandered through H&M, listless and woebegone, a single tear rolling down my cheek. I'd touch dresses fondly, as though they were from a distant, happy memory which I could no longer quite remember. I floated through Borders like a ghost too depressed to do anything but to breathe a long, drawn out sigh. Oh, if only I had a true income! I might do more than weep over my DVD collection, now riddled with holes I had once intended to fill.
Cut to a year later. Still unemployed but now ruthlessly hardened to marketing schemes, I became the Clint Eastwood of shopping.
Did I NEED this throwback April O'Neil figurine? NO.
Did I NEED this wheel of extra creamy brie? NO.
Did I NEED this entire store of Crate & Barrel? .....But...but I...what if....NO!
Nancy Reagan would be proud. Also, Lady Bird Johnson. Not really Lady Bird, I just wanted to bring her up because SERIOUSLY who is named Lady Bird? I'm sure they covered all this in the 60s but I wasn't around then and COME ON, Shelly.
Anyway, I just said no and became hardened to the Call of the Stuff. No longer did their siren song affect me. I had bought roughly 4 articles of clothing in a year and a half. I forgot all about Baby Bel and their amazing tiny red wheels of love. My preferred brand of choice had become "store." And I was fine with it.
And then the Man came knocking. And I answered his call and got a job again. Yes, at the first opportunity, I dropped my hard exterior, hitched up my out-of-style pants and marched on over to American Eagle. I slapped my credit card down on the counter and said, "How much will THIS get me?" "Miss, that is a credit card. I have no idea." "RING 'ER UP!" I yelled to no one in particular.
No, not really. But when I finally got to the counter with what can only be described as a PLETHORA of clothing, the guy laughed and asked if I was on a shopping spree. Seriously. He then asked me if I shopped at American Eagle often. I paused and said, "Well, I COULD."
So yeah. I could buy stuff again. All the stuff that an entry level position could buy! *throws $1 bills into the air and laughs maniacally*
But, besides the confidence that I can pay my bills each month, what do I really have? A few new shirts and name-brand cereal? How long does new stuff make you feel like anything is actually different? It seems a lot like when I finally got contacts in the 8th grade and assumed every guy would immediately fawn over me. I got to school and I believe one person said, "Did you get contacts?" "Yep!" "Oh." It's that same empty feeling now, after I buy something shiny, get a compliment or two, and then realize that nothing has REALLY changed. Am I any better than my neon-green-note-passing self?
I just got an email for Crate & Barrel Outlet Christmas stuff. And at first I thought "Ooh! Pretty! Snow pups on oven mitts! Twelve dessert plates for $20!
But then I immediately thought, NO! You don't need it!! And to be honest, I'm not sure if that's my old stingy, unemployed self talking...or just reason.