Mom drove up on Sunday and we went shopping. When I was a kid, clothing stores were the gridiron for our most violent mothering and daughtering. Unfortunately, these shopping trips together were a necessary act; I could not afford to clothe myself, and she was not the laissez-faire type to send me out with unrestricted funds to curate my own wardrobe.
To her credit, my sole sartorial mission in junior high and high school was to look as weird as possible. Dressing rooms, already zones of buzzing fluorescent self-scrutiny, had the plural tragedy of mom's patient disapproval waiting beyond the curtain. You can't just come in here with me. I don't want to try a size up. It's supposed to fit like this.
My hide has toughened and I make my own money now. These shopping trips now can be a breeze, almost calming. "You're really going to get that?", she asks incredulously. "I am!", I chirp, my feelings intact. Usually she smiles at this point. We are hard on our mothers.
Using classic misdirection, she managed to get her credit card to the cashier first. I winced. The jeans in my stack of treasures were full price. A guilty relief. I make my own money now, but I don't make a lot.
I'm embarrassed by my interest in clothing sometimes - seems a frivolous hobby for a girl with brains. But like I've said before, clothes can feel like armor to me and I'm not about to bring ill-fitting jeans to a gun fight. Tonight I have a speaking engagement for which I am woefully unprepared, but instead of making note cards or darkening a blank Word doc, I am mentally going through my closet. As if in picking the right dress, I can withstand the punctures of a hundred pairs of eyes.