How Does it Feel to Want?

In order to temper any harsh criticisms or disappointment any of you feel for me after reading this post, let me begin by saying if my entire apartment went up in flames I would be most sad to loose the jewelry given to me by my relatives (mostly because they are pieces that have survived generations and countless moves and I'd feel like the failure of the dynasty were I the one to lose them); my photo albums and my computer/external hard drive. The rest of it could be burnt to a crisp and I would be mostly worried about where I would live and how I would pay for it.
I don't shop. Constant scrutiny of my bank statement show that I spend most of my money on food. Not necessarily grocery shopping (as I have previously stated, I'm rather an uninspired cook, and I think I'll up that to a reluctant one). But I do like to go out for a lunch or a dinner or drinks with friends. I don't really buy things because I haven't that much space to put them. Plus growing up in my mother's house with its constant clutter makes me appreciate open space so much more. I'm not against decorative knickknacks, but there's got to be a limit. Shoot me if my collection of porcelain figurines from the Red Rose tea boxes ever expands to two shelves.
Nor have I ever really been much of a clothes shopper. Okay, that's not true at all. I love buying clothes. No, scratch that also: I love trying clothes on. At one point I had way too much free time (read: was unemployed) and would try and make myself feel better by buying clothes. They weren't designer clothes, or outrageous in looks; just that I already had 6 pairs of shorts and here I was in H&M buying a 7th. There'd be some little worm of doubt in my head wriggling around as I handed over my debit card. "You don't need these shirts/dress/pants/shorts/socks," it would say in a voice that sounded eerily like my mother's. "When are you ever going to wear them?"
"I'll wear them."
Then, maybe two months later, I would conceded the point, do a very satisfying purge of my closet and get rid of them. So I've changed my tactics to just trying these things on. It's a very satisfying method. I can reaffirm that I do indeed look good in these clothes without having to empty my bank account or squish them into my closet.

A dress from BCBG Max Azria. A size 2 and $435.00. But it felt pretty great to put on.

Barring that I am also prone to a lengthy peruse of websites of stores that are not easily accessible to me. I just like looking at beautiful things; my bookshelf has two scrapbooks devoted to beauty.
Every once in a while something really does tug at my heart strings and sends me into a swoon of wanting lust. The worst was when Marc Jacobs opened a store in Savannah and I spied a black, delicate silk dress for $325.00 Incidentally that was as much as I was paying in rent at the time. As much as I wanted that dress so badly I couldn't justify spending that amount of money when the first of the month was looming (plus, my mother had given me a series of checques precisely calculated to pay my rent for the year, not for buying designer dresses). Instead I went into Starbucks, ordered an ice chai and began pouring out into a journal the intense desire to own that dress. I completely forgot to use punctuation.
If I had a large disposable income, I would just buy whatever the hell I felt like. Or maybe not. Maybe I would just take my friends out for drinks more often than I do. And paint my apartment finally... and get a new couch... see more of my family spread out around the world. Okay, there are lots of things I would do with more money, but I'm not lying awake at night thinking, "oh if only..."
I work in an office that has clothes constantly available for the taking. I take them, try them on, realise I do not need yet another pair of black pants and then bring them back. Then there's my sister who has the income I've described, or at least lives like she does. Every time I visit her there is a drawer in the guest room's bureau with cast-off clothes for me. This makes me exceedingly happy because I feel my sister has some damn good taste and style. One year, close to my birthday, I concocted possibly the best outfit of my life with clothes she had given me in one way or another.
When we went to Turkey in the fall of '09, we took a few days to rattle around London together and she introduced me to the world of All Saints Spitalfields.
Kirsty's a pretty interesting person with her likes and dislikes. There are some pale, frilly, girly clothes in her closet, as well as albums from Tori Amos and Kate Nash on her itunes. But then she's got these boots and these t-shirts that look anti-establishment, almost punk, and then you'll see right in the same playlist some Pearl Jam and Smashing Pumpkins. The same, really, could be said for me, too and Kirsty is largely responsible for that.
So I liked All Saints well enough. I like their draping of fabrics, and how their dresses make one look like they've been shipwrecked in a very sexy way. Their style is an updated grunge look, I think. Punk and pretty, but not garish.
Then I visited her for Christmas. All I could really fit into my suitcase were the presents for my family, underwear, and a pair of shoes. I told her over the phone, "I'm going to be borrowing a lot of clothes from you." It was a very exciting prospect for me.
In reality, though, it was a little weird. I thumbed through her closet, savouring the feel of all these really nice blouses, and trying to choose which one I'd like to wear most. But they weren't mine. That was very clear in my mind; it would all be borrowed and I'd feel like a jackdaw wearing peacock feathers. I wanted my own comfortable clothes.
New Years Eve there were no such qualms in my mind. She showed me this dress that she herself had never worn. "I am not giving this to you. You can borrow it," she said, waving it about on the hanger. It was a short little number from All Saints. A black knit sheath with these yards of printed floral fabric to hang about my neck and drape down to just above my knees. After dinner, when everyone had gone to sleep and I was (I will confess) a little drunk, I went into the bathroom and pretended I was a catalogue model for All Saints and arranged myself in a variety of poses with the fabric.
Dear Reader, has it become apparent to you yet that I am still head over heels in love with this dress? I sigh wistfully for it when I lie alone in my bed; it has become my second Marc Jacobs Black Dress. And yet slightly more affordable than any garment from that house of fashion (another object of desire for me, almost too painful to mention, is a certain pale green leather purse). So on New Years Day, I looked online and saw something that looked very familiar to that dress for a giddy low price, plus free shipping (!). I purchased it without a second thought and flew back home to NY, quivering with anticipation.
It was not the dress of my desire. It was a shirt in the same vein. A very nice shirt that I am looking forward to wearing tonight with a pair of skinny black jeans. But oh my God! I still want that dress!
So what's the problem? you ask. You hardly ever buy clothes (Mum if you're reading this please don't get that raised eyebrow), it's reasonably priced and free shipping (!). Go ahead and get it.
I have three birthdays coming up. First up is my good friend from when I was a young school girl. Last year since it was her St Catherine's Day (she was 25 and still unwed) I took her out for lunch and mani/pedis. I don't know that I can swing anything quite so indulgent this year, but I still want to get her something nice not only for her birthday but as a way to say thank you for all these amazing years of friendship and feeding me (she is preparing what can only be called a miraculous feast for this occasion. I am so excited). Second up is my.... gentleman friend. Now obviously, I want to do something very nice for his birthday. I would like to believe that we have an understanding that drastic and extravagant (read: expensive) celebrations are not necessary. I will not have to buy him designer cuff links, for instance. But I don't really know for sure since we haven't talked about it. Be that as it may, I want to do something special for him; a nice dinner, a nice little something to unwrap. He made my birthday in September (seriously, read that entry) so wonderful and pleasant, and I really want to return the favour.
Then Kirsty herself is celebrating her birthday. I know everyone struggles with birthdays right around the holiday seasons, but I find February birthdays just as hard. It's difficult not to blow my wad on Christmas presents and then be totally bereft of ideas two months later. I might be down on celebrating myself on my birthday but my big sister, in my humble opinion, hardly ever celebrates herself but just works so hard and always has such a cheery outlook on life that every February I feel determined to pack as much love and celebration into a package as I possibly can. My method is to usually concoct little "kits." Last year I sent her a "relaxing Sunday morning" kit.
Thus the dilemma: How can I justify spending this money on myself when there are other people I should be spending it on?


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