My shopping trips have become excursions in denial. As I peruse the aisles, I base my purchase decision on whether or not the item will A) survive the high seas; B) be too cumbersome to stow on the boat; or C) provide enough enjoyment to justify its limited lifespan on land. The joy of finding a really great markdown has lost its thrill.
How could I stroll through Bloomingdale’s and pass up a sale on Eileen Fisher? How could I shrug off a 30% discount on Sigrid Olsen? Didn’t I have to have that little black number for the holidays?
When I accepted my friend Karen Jenkins’s invitation to go to Napa Valley on a girls getaway, I thought it would give us a rare opportunity to raise a few glasses of cabernet together. Instead it became a lesson in self-control. As Karen and her college buddies thoughtfully fingered hand knit wool sweaters in Bloomie’s on San Francisco’s Union Square, I strolled around and feigned interest in designer duds on discount. At the vineyards, I gladly tasted the wine but rued the fact I couldn’t easily store Napa’s finest on a 40’ catamaran.
I’m turning away, disengaging myself, from things that I love in my old life, and it makes my heart feel heavy.
A few days earlier, over lunch with Mike’s cousin’s wife Penny Locke and our friend Phyllis Lucas-Haddow, Penny explained how to handle unwanted encounters with dogs. Penny is a trained, professional dog listener. She advised Phyllis to physically turn away and shield her face from dogs that she meets on her hikes on Mt. Tam. Penny explained that making eye contact with a dog encourages it to approach a human being; lack of eye contact tells the dog that it is unwelcome. Phyllis, a cat-lover, wants to avoid all contact with canines, friendly or not, when she hikes.
I look at the clothes in Bloomie’s, but I don’t see them. I turn away from frivolous, fun window-shopping. When asked how I can possibly give up my landscaping business and my love for gardening to live on a sailboat, I mention growing herbs or a bonsai tree. Or I joke about carrying around a jar of dirt as Jack Sparrow does in the second POTC movie, “Dead Man’s Chest.”
What I can’t conceive is how I’ll subsist on limited phone calls and visits to my sister. For the past 24 years, we’ve been only three hours away from each other. We can drive the distance between Atlanta and Birmingham practically blindfolded. We know which exits offer the best truck stops and antique stores and which weekends to avoid the traffic at Talladega raceway.
We talk at least once a week. Sharon typically calls me on Saturday mornings to find out how my week was and what we plan to do for the weekend. Then she tells me her plans. In between we e-mail each other almost daily.
I don’t talk much to my sister about how much I’ll miss her. In fact, I don’t bring it up at all. Neither does she. We simply turn away from the subject.