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Shop 'Til You Drop

Veena Thomas

After an exhausting day of shopping with a friend from across the river, I realized that shopping is a waste of time.

On Saturday, I went to the mall as an escape from campus, classes, a schedule, everything. I was tired of following my daily planner. I needed some time alone, free to do whatever I wanted to do. When I feel that life is too structured, or that I need some time to think, I walk aimlessly around Harvard Square. So after class on Saturday, I had every intention of doing the same thing.

But as I approached the T stop, the Galleria bus arrived. Hmmmm, I thought, I've always wanted to hop onto a bus and get away from it all. Granted, going to the mall might not be as adventurous and daring as, say, driving away to California, but in my straight-laced existence, randomly shopping counts for something.

So instead of bravely wandering around Harvard Square, I spontaneously and daringly got on the bus to the Galleria. (Okay, my life can be very tame some times just humor me.)

Upon arriving at the Galleria, I realized that this was my first real solo mall trip. I could spend as much time as I liked browsing, since there was no hurry. I tried on some clothes that I would never buy, and that I would be embarrassed to wear in the open. I liked this solo thing. I spent probably unnecessary amounts of time deciding between a bracelet that cost four dollars and one that cost fifty cents more. I knew I was wasting my time, but I did not care; I could spend so long deciding because of my freedom and independence. I reveled in the decision.

Or maybe I am indecisive and took so long because no one else was around to decide for me. Perhaps a bolder person would have asked the opinion of the sales clerk or the nearest stranger, but I preferred to let the voices in my head debate. The same situation held later. I struggled to decide whether to buy a fifteen dollar sweater. I thought of all the other things I could buy with fifteen dollars, and whether I needed another sweater. I have no qualms about spending fifteen dollars in a restaurant, so why was I stressing out over a sweater that I could keep forever? Maybe because if I decided later that I did not like the sweater, I would still see it hanging in my closet, whereas I won't remember the meal after a few days. To quiet the voices in my head, I bought the sweater.

Sunday, I went shopping with a friend. After I spent fifteen dollars on lunch (hey, I could have bought a sweater with that money!), we went to the Gap outlet store where again I struggled deciding. But this time I had a real, human voice of reason with me who gave me her opinion. I had not realized just how exhausting shopping is. At the end, I just sat on the floor while my friend tried on jeans and I refused to move.

I thought about the whole reason behind shopping, and realized it was useless. As long as you are warm and comfortable, nothing else should matter. Colors, styles, patterns it's crazy. The stores have more clothes than anyone could possibly buy, and still people cannot find what they are want. Somehow I doubt that anyone besides the wearer cares that much anyway. I do pay attention to what other people are wearing, but how much does that matter?

If I come across a nicely dressed person on the street, I think to myself, "Hey, that's a nicely dressed person," and then we go our separate ways.Besides, many people don't notice what others wear, or what they wear. I find myself paying more attention to others' wardrobes than they do. When I noticed that someone wore the same shirt two days apart, I knew it was time for me to get a life. When I was younger, I would worry about when I had worn what shirt, until my mom pointed out that if I could not remember, chances were that no one else could remember either.

So after spending so many hours shopping, I finally concluded that it was useless and that I didn't really need the clothes. But that didn't stop me from keeping them. I still love shopping I just don't want to see a store for another month.