Thursday, March 25, 2010

stuff it!

This year brings changes. First there was my new car - a big change for a girl who's always gotten rides from other people, and driven rental cars every now and again but never owned anything more expensive than her laptop. (Not to mention for a girl who is mostly environmental, loves to bike around and do things that are sustainable, and half-hoped she wouldn't have to ever own a car.)

Then there's a new job - as of last week I was hired to start a full-time job in April. I'll reveal more about it when I actually start and I feel more like letting the public in. But - it will be a change for me - I'll be learning a lot, a lot. (For those of you who are concerned about my lifelong dream to be a librarian, fear not: I'll be keeping my small amount of hours there, at least for as long as that makes sense.)

Also, I decided this was the time to get myself a new bed. I've only ever had a twin bed, and the one I sleep on here at Mum's is the same one I've had since Grade 7. So I went on the hunt, looking online (bless Kijiji!) for a Queen-size bed-frame, and in local stores for a mattress and box spring. Again, learning, learning. When you know nothing about something, you have to just admit (at least to yourself) your ignorance, and jump in. How does one buy a bed? Do you buy all the parts separately, or together? What are the parts even called?

By next week (fingers crossed that all the pick-up arrangements fall into place), I will likely be sleeping on a new bed. Not just a new bed, either, but a new, big, comfortable bed. On a beautiful cherry sleigh bed-frame.

All these acquisitions have got me thinking about stuff. The stuff we collect and carry around with us. The stuff that fills our homes and fills magazines and fills stores. Prints, patterns, fabrics, styles, wood finishes, lamps, lines, colors, "space management." Now that I have a car and can get to Sydney whenever I feel like it, I feel this odd pressure that I have to go and acquire, buy, get stuff. All the dreams and desires about stuff that I've had all my life - reading and collecting magazines like Canadian House & Home and Chatelaine, tearing out pages of things I like - now, because I have a car, now is the time to go forth and acquire! (At least, that's how it feels.)

I think this is at least in part because my little village is about an hour's drive from Sydney, the nearest large commercial center. All my life, when you needed something other than groceries or hardware, you went to Sydney. School supplies, clothes, furniture, shopping at big-box "bargain" stores - all warranted a day's trip to Sydney. For a long time I didn't realize that there was more to Sydney than the gritty highway and the tedium of the malls. And when you plan a day's trip, you try to get as much into it as possible. You plan it out: leave at 9, get there for 10, shop for X Y and Z until 3, when you have a medical appointment (let's say), then return home. Exhausted.

Yesterday I did an interesting thing that I had never done before. I was in Sydney, for an appointment, and then I ended up at one of the malls. I told myself that I wasn't going to buy anything. Just walk around and look. Take in patterns and prices, feel up dresses and skirts, but not buy anything. And I did that. Every now and then something would catch my eye, a deal on something, or an item I really liked.

"Nope," I'd think. "I'm not buying anything. I can always come back next week. Besides, there will always be sales. There will always be nice clothes."

And when I left the mall, I felt light. Not weighed down by bags or by the guilt that usually comes with a purchase, no matter how necessary the thing bought. Light because I was able to go into the mall, take it all in, look around, decide on things I liked and didn't like, and then - just leave. Freely, of my own accord.

Oh and - on an not-entirely-unrelated note: I really, really miss my camera. I can't wait for this little part to come in, for the camera people to put it all back together, so I can take shots again. You really don't know what you got til it's gone, to paraphrase Joni Mitchell!

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