Not gonna lie; I am a stuff junkie. When I was a kid, my parents taught me to be resourceful, and to have fun without the latest and greatest toys. Sure I spent many hours with Mario and Donkey Kong, but I spent many more riding my brother’s recycled bike (dad and I painted it, changed the seat, and added a horn and basket), playing with the dog, and making up games. I’d run through the back yard, in between corn and coffee plants, chanting like a little Indian girl hunting white people. The dog was either my wolf companion or my horse. Imaginary rivers and quicksand were crossed by swinging from liana or my rope. Whole afternoons would go by, spent outside, until a crusty and hungry mini-me returned home for the evening. I can’t remember caring for many material things; I was satisfied with my cheap watches and a few Nintendo games, though I did wish Freddy Kruger’s replica glove weren’t so expensive.
Then we moved to the US – just as I hit puberty. To make up for my accent and small boobs, I needed gorgeous hair, the prettiest skirts, the most bad ass leather jacket, the newest sneakers, the best this, the best that… as my mother eventually began denying me all of my wants and needs, I started working at age 14, so I could afford all the shit I wanted. God only knows how many thousands of dollars were spent on teen magazines, beauty products, jewelry, clothes… I remember watching shampoo commercials and running to the bathroom to check myself in the mirror; I’d run my fingers through my hair, angry that it wasn’t as shiny, thick, or straight like the model’s. I’d make weekly lists of shit I needed so I could run to the mall after payday and spend my check on the stuff – stuff that would become obsolete weeks later.
When it wasn’t clothes and beauty products, it was gadgets or home furnishings; but there was always something to buy.
It wasn’t until after college that I really began to assess my slavery to stuff and my easily persuadable personality. I’m a bit ashamed to admit it, but it’s true; I’m fairly gullible and impressionable. I tell myself that these traits go hand in hand with my optimism and the big heart I carry on my sleeve, but still… the truth is, I’m not like my mom, who can walk through any store and barely blink at the shelves, focusing solely on the specifics of her list. On a grocery shopping mission, it is not unlikely that I’ll find myself sucking my thumb or twirling my hair, staring at crayons and erasable markers, convincing myself that drawing pictures would be incredibly therapeutic IF ONLY I had the glow in the dark glittery glue.
I know myself too well, and at least I have that on my side. I can’t tell you how much more pleasant my life has been since I cut out television (commercials), and celebrity-centered news, online shopping, women’s magazines, and ‘casual’ trips to the mall. I don’t know what Vogue wants me to Buy, Keep, or Store, I don’t know what Posh was wearing when she went out for brunch on Saturday, and I haven’t a clue how quickly the new wireless home theater systems can deafen me. I stay away from stores like a lap-band fattie does from sugar, and when I do go I clutch to my list.
Unless I don’t make one. Unless I foolishly tell myself that I’ll just “pop into Target and Sephora real quick” for a computer cable and some foundation. “Twenty minutes, and I’ll be home before dusk for a jog with Tori.”
I found the foundation. I also found lipgloss and $100 worth of perfume. I found the computer cable, along with a new bath curtain, wastebasket, soap dispenser, play-doh, more nerf gun ammunition, Starbucks coffee, a $20 mug, organizing boxes, tanning product, and whatever the fuck else. It’s absurd and I’m ashamed. I’ve put aside some stuff to return over the weekend, and I’m hoping this relapse is an isolated episode. But my oh my, how pretty does my bathroom look.