A couple of days ago, Suzan said something that made me stop and think. She commented: "My mother loves to buy clothes and doesn't understand I don't like to shop much at all."
It snagged my attention. I asked myself, "Do I like to shop? Do I enjoy clothes shopping?" I mean, I buy a lot of clothes (and other things), and always have, but do I enjoy it, honestly?
My husband says every now and then that he thinks shopping is my hobby. I see why he says it, but at the same time it doesn't quite ring true to me.
I could see I needed to think about this.
I've noticed that I buy clothing (and other things) as a psychological method of getting ready — of resourcing myself. It's not that I feel inadequate exactly, more that sometimes I feel I don't have what it takes to face what's coming towards me, so I reach outside myself for back-up, to make sure I'm kitted out and ready to meet what's inside that dust cloud on the horizon. A form of prepping, I guess.
Officiating at funerals is a good example of what I mean. Over the years I've officiated at hundreds of funerals, but nowadays I almost always decline that opportunity, even though it feels like such a privilege and honour. On the rare occasions I say "yes", I can guarantee that as the day approaches I will begin to panic that I don't have the right things to wear; and that's when I start shopping.
I was required to speak at my mother's funeral in January, and the legacy of that is a very good black cashmere coat (secondhand from eBay) and a pair of high quality black boots (extremely expensive and not second-hand — my feet are hard to fit). I don't like the coat and I don't like the boots and I don't like the mental association. I bought them because I thought them appropriate, but they are not my kind of thing. I am weary of attire donned to make a good impression, and of trying to summon enough energy to do something very difficult by dressing as if I could.
I have to officiate at a funeral tomorrow. I'll either wear the black boots and black coat (if it's cold) one more time, and then offer them to someone who would like them; or, if I'm feeling especially self-confident (and if it's warm, because spring's here), I'll wear my regular clothes and just be who I am. I'm not sure which way to go.
But I am entirely certain that coat and those boots are the next things leaving my life.