I am going to make a confession, something that may be considered taboo considering my gender. But here goes…
I hate shopping.
And probably more than I hate actually shopping, I despise crowded shopping malls… and trying to find a parking spot at said mall.
There I said it. Wow, that felt good. Ok, so I haven’t always hated shopping. I have fond memories of day trips to the mall with high school friends, sipping on Orange Julius and eating greasy pretzels, people watching and trying on clothes just for fun. But now, shopping has become a chore. It has been downgraded to something that needs to be checked off my never ending to-do list, getting shuffled alongside tasks such as registering my car, or stocking up on canned goods. It’s a chore because I can’t do it whenever the natural urge arises like the bygone days. I have to reserve all of my buying power for 2 or 3 trips to civilization per year, and when it comes time, I’m usually towing my husband or dad with me; they’ll follow me around looking lost until I go tell them to wait at the food court. Meanwhile I madly try on piles of clothes and end up buying something not because “I fell in love with it and just had to have it” but merely so I can own something fresh that doesn’t have a stain or a hole in it. About 20 minutes in, after I feel like I have some momentum going, I will inevitably get a text message wondering if I’m nearly finished (no pressure or anything!). Thank goodness for online shopping, which is where I accomplish the majority of my first world errands prior to my trips off the rock.
My husband and I typically map out our travel schedule for the upcoming year fairly far in advance because we have a rather large list of people to try and catch up with who are geographically diverse. My husband’s sister lives just a short hop across the pond in Miami. His parents divide their time between Australia and Miami, so they’re not too hard to catch when they’re in this hemisphere. The rest of his family and old mates live in Australia, so that warrants a trip every few years. My family is spread out between the Canadian border and Portland, Oregon, which gives us an excuse for a reprieve to the beautiful Pacific Northwest during the long hot summers of our island home. Then we usually try to sneak in a surf trip or quick getaway on top of that. So we’re looking at a few decent trips per year on average (side note: I’d have a disastrous time moving back to the states after living abroad and realizing that most other countries in the world get more than two weeks of vacation per year. I have no idea how we’d manage our travel schedule based on the US standard allocation of precious vacation days).
Because of these trips, I am usually planning well in advance what I need to be shopping for. I am a notorious list maker. I have lists, and I have lists for my lists. I keep waaay too many bookmarked pages on my web browser, with folders such as Things to Order for my Next Trip to the US. And whoever we are visiting will start receiving packages weeks prior to our arrival as though Christmas is on the horizon.
My dad went through a fairly routine surgery (OK, maybe open heart surgery isn’t quite routine, but I think it was downplayed to save me angst) and upon spending an extra week in the hospital consuming nothing but clear liquids, we quickly realized that he would benefit from some stay-at-home help while he recovered. Although my sister is only a few hour’s drive away, she’s a full time working woman with a new job (and, you guessed it, only 2 weeks time off), while I’m off gallivanting around in the Bahamas. Actually, not really, we islanders still need to pay the bills and our bar tabs, but I do have some flexibility to work from my laptop. So when the discussion was finalized, I was to hop on a plane in fairly short notice.
My husband and I sat down at our weekly business meeting on our porch to hash out the details. We were discussing what we needed to think about ordering online to send to my dad’s house so I could mule our goods back with me. Since I had just spent $350 on shipping and duty to my rock for an order that cost $530, we needed to think long and hard about this and make the most of my trip.
“I honestly don’t really need anything from the states at the moment,” I said with a furrowed brow, mulling intently on which essentials I was lacking at the moment.
“Yeah, me neither,” he replied.
“Well, if you think of anything, just order it,” I said.
T-minus 4 days prior to departure: Whilst procrastinating on making business flyers on Vista Print, I innocently switched over to a brand new browser tab, just to see what I might come up with.
Now that I think about it, I could probably do with some new yoga pants. Maybe I should just take a quick peek at Lululemon. Ugh, that’s right, $99 for yoga pants. Well, maaaaybe… no, no no! But while I’m here, let me just look at one of their cute strappy sports bras. Click – ordered.
Ok, now let’s look at Old Navy for yoga pants instead. Ooooh! A sale! I’d better act fast. 5 pairs should be good, different lengths, colors, etc. Can’t keep wearing the same outfits to yoga class. Click – ordered.
Shoes. My sandals are falling apart. I need a pair of black flats. Scrolling through thousands of options at Zappos… (How can there be SO many different styles of sandals??) Finally, have 6 tabs open between Zappos and DSW. Narrowed it down to two. Can’t decide, will have to order both. I can always return stuff, right? Click – ordered.
Wait, I need a new pair of my favorite trail shoes, and I keep forgetting it’s going to be winter where I’m going, back to DSW for one more order, thank goodness for free shipping.
Spices. I love cooking Indian food, super easy with the base ingredients available here but I need to stock up on my staples. I’m almost out of coriander and cumin seeds, so let me pop over to Spice House. I heard cacao has great benefits in smoothies. And I just read that article that regular cinnamon is from China and has toxins in it, you’re supposed to use Ceylon cinnamon. Oh, and maybe some some ground chipotle too. Click – ordered.
I should check my folder of “Things to Order for my Next Trip to the US.” That’s right, there’s a landscaping book about tropical gardening that I’ve been wanting to order. Anything else from Amazon while I’m here? I can always come back because of my trusty Amazon Prime and free expedited shipping. But I also need a USA SIM card for my phone. My cell phone bills are exorbitant whenever I travel. Research, research, research….
I’ve been battling with getting the shakes from caffeine, maybe I should look up a coffee substitute. Diving into this topic, now reading that Capamo made from the Maya Nut is a great alternative. Let me try two different brands, just to see which I prefer.
Dog collars, that’s right, the pups are probably due for some new ones! Three preppy Nantucket style doggie collars from Up Country, comin’ right up. And I probably need more of my specialty shampoo….
If you thought that by living on an island you could get rid of your inherent desire to shop, think again. Internet marketing has bypassed billboards and shopping now has no international boundaries. Yes, I’m a sucker for a sale. And shopping in my PJ’s? Oh lawd, watch out. Stop enabling me, Internet. When I click BOOK NOW and that flight is confirmed, it’s game on. It feels not unlike that moment in bull-riding when the bull is released into the ring, charging into the space, full of adrenaline. That’s exactly what it is, I’m charging (my credit card), full of adrenaline, I just don’t have a crowd cheering me on. Most folks spend money while they are ON vacation. I choose to spend all my money before my vacation. Not sure who’s doing it right, but at least I can pack light on my way there.
*This post was originally published on Out Island Life.