May. 8, 2008 at 11:19am

Searching in Tacoma

Is it better to know what you want or what you don't want?

I spent much of yesterday afternoon shopping for a new dress. I do not like shopping. I am boycotting the mall. I did not have a fun afternoon. Along the way, I did meet some nice people, so the afternoon was not a complete loss. I also spotted a celebrity.

My first stop was Sonja's on N. 21st St. This was my first visit to Sonja's, so, of course, I had to look at everything, not just the dresses. That shop is packed with good stuff. The biggest surprise for me was the variety and quantity of shoes in stock. I'll never have to go to the mall again. I found two dresses to try. After slipping into a deep periwinkle dress that fit perfectly but seemed a bit conservative, I began to realize that I was going to have one of those shopping days. This dress made my eyes look so blue, skimmed over my body like a dream, had a lovely swishing quality, and wasn't over-thetop prom-like. My mother would love me in that dress. The second dress was more daring, deep v in front and back, an updated cream and black classic with some shimmer. Wrong size. At least two sizes too large (not by number but by fit) and the last one in stock. At $120, a steal for the designer dress that it is, but still spendy for my taste when the tailoring costs are added. Truly a beautiful dress. I then realized that I don't really know what I want. I hemmed and hawed and paced the shop. Tried the blue dress on again. Looked at the clearance rack. Looked at the shoes. Chatted with Sonja (nice person #1) and left empty handed, thinking that I'll just wear an old dress and stop by Sonja's on the way to dinner to buy a sweater or wrap and maybe some new bling.

Upon arriving home, I remembered that I had offered to drop off some suits at the cleaners. So I looked through my closet, determining that none my existing dresses would do for Saturday night's festivities, grabbed the suits and headed to the Proctor District. Entering Envy, I saw a postcard, cleverly placed in the back pocket of the mannequin's jeans, for Puttin' on the Pink. This put the thought in my head that if I found something, I should wait until tomorrow, just in case there are any special discounts. Another fine excuse to be indecisive. First dress, black with red belt, with some amazingly shiny red heels. This is when the identity crisis set in. Wow. I looked hot. And my age. Powerful. Almost bombshell hot. Mature, but not matronly. Take it off, take it off. Next two dresses... both black and white, poofy, spring-like, lovely. The woman in the mirror looked like a girl again. Twenty-something. Whew, back in my comfort zone. What is my problem? I'm not ashamed that I'm 39. Try that sexy number on again. Ok. Still a little scary. Only $40 though. Hmm, does it look cheap and I don't realize it? Is it slutty? What will people think of me in this dress? Will my friends like it or hate it? Will this mature version of me scare my fiance? Exit shop muttering to self, confusing the shopkeeper (nice person #2).

Next stop, Julia Ellen Clothiers. Lovely sales lady (nice person #3), sold out of anything appropriate. Although, at this point, I don't know what appropriate might be. They have dresses, some shoes, some jewelry, and a t-shirt that made me tear up. The front said, simply, "evolve" and the back, "No one can take our soul from us and we can evolve stronger and wiser."  There were other word shirts, but I thought it wise to not read them.

Into my head pops an amazing dress that I saw months ago at Cake, in University Place. I drove over there, knowing deep down that there is no way that dress is still there. And feeling that it might be too girly anyhow. But I have visions of a fitted bodice, empire waist, greenish/silverish satin mixed with sturdy cotton. The drive to UP does not make me happy. Am I really driving 12 miles (round trip) on a wild goose chase for an imaginary dress? Walking into Cake immediately calmed me. Hippy styles abound. Ah, my comfort zone again. I touch the fabrics, I soak in the loud floral prints, I try on a froofy rain jacket. My dress is gone, of course, and they don't have any suitable dresses, but I don't care. I feel the Zen that is Cake. The shopkeeper (nice person #4) actually apologizes that the dress is gone; she remembers the one I remembered and agrees that it was lovely.

Since I'm there, I decide to get dinner from Trader Joe's and this is where I spot the celebrity. I consider approaching her... "Elle? Hi, Heather" but realize that she might not have a clue who I am and that I might startle "the boy" who is talking nonstop in a quiet, indoor voice. She did, however, give an approving glance to my re-usable shopping bag, so I feel special. Additionally, Joe is now selling frozen edamame again and this makes me happy. I stocked up on four bags. The checker-outer person (nice person #5) actually talked to me like a real person, even though I was obviously in a shopping fog. He asked a question that you don't hear often from a stranger, "So, what good has happened for you today?" This stumped me. I couldn't say, "I spotted Elle" because she was standing directly behind me at the next register. So I said something lame and asked him the same question. He said that he got to spend some time with a good friend before work and I agreed, that is a very good thing.

Now, if you've made it this far in the saga, you will be rewarded by me getting to the point.

My second-best friend is a guy, we'll call him MFHLM (my fiance's hetero life mate). He is searching for his true love and his search methods are not unlike my search for a dress. He deserves a good girlfriend, one that suits him, flatters him even. Along the way, he is learning a lot about what he doesn't want. But does he know what he wants? Or is it good enough to recognize it when he finally sees it?  Are his expectations appropriate? When he finds what he wants, will it cost more than he thinks? Is it important that his friends like his girl? Can he find what he needs here in Tacoma? I think so. I think that when the time is right, he will meet the perfect one for him. I think he feels time pressuring him to find her, like me pressured to find a damn dress, but he has plenty of time. As for his friends, if she flatters him, we'll like her.

Last night, we met MFHLM's brand new friend (nice person #6). I like her, she is pretty, funny, and nice. She put up with MFHLM inviting us to crash their first date. She even laughed when I told her I'd be blogging about her. She probably thought I was joking. Is she the perfect fit? Will his mother love seeing him with her? Will he still find her comfortable when the season changes? Will she prove to be too costly, by breaking his heart? Only time will tell. A much more serious search than the one for a dress, I'm not trying to make light of it, but to be honest, I'd be so happy to find a dress that suits me as well as new friend appears to suit MFHLM.


comments [1]  |  posted under Cake, Envy, Julia Ellen, sonja's clothing


by Elle on 5/9/2008 @ 4:27pm
You can always say hi. I don't bite.


Hello! I'm Heather and I'm a bit manic about Tacoma.

I'll probably be blogging about my experiences in Tacoma as they relate to the environment (natural and built), social (in)justice, community building, economic development, bio-diesel, public transit, biking, gardening, home improvement, food & wine, and my little family (me, my husband, one dog, one cat). This is my first attempt at writing a blog - so please bear with me.

Contact: heather.ups@gmail.com

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