It took two attempts and a two hour wait on the second try to get a New Jersey driver’s license with a neutral facial expression required, eye glasses prohibited, and indents on both sides of my nose inevitable. Apparently, residents of New Jersey are obligated to look like serial killers, or at the very least, exhausted and unhappy in their driver’s license photos. Actually, I think the wait might have helped. By the time they called my number, I was on the edge of clinical depression.
After leaving the Motor Vehicle Commission, I went to Nordstrom because, well, just because.
Holy moly. Just. Because.
It so happens that Nordstrom is having their Anniversary Sale, which means as a store credit card holder, I can buy exclusive items behind exclusive curtains at exclusive prices. What I thought I might/maybe/possibly/perhaps buy was a pair of Birkenstock sandals I’ve had my eye on because I do a lot of walking in my new hood, but before I hit the shoe department, I took a quick peek upstairs in the women’s department because, well, just because.
I secretly hoped I might find a great deal on a bathing suit. There are a few weeks of summer left, you know. Sadly, the swimwear department – what was left of it, anyway – was a hot mess of random and too skimpy for me tops and bottoms. As I turned around to head back downstairs in search of sandals, my eye caught a frenzy of shoppers behind a curtain. I walked toward the commotion out of curiosity, and what I found was astonishing. There were racks upon racks upon racks of…winter coats! Winter coats, people! WINTER COATS! It’s JULY!
Now listen. I grew up in Massachusetts. I also lived in New York City for half a dozen years before moving to South Florida. I know what wicked cold feels like, and I know what’s required to get through a Northeast winter, but I’ve been living in the Sunshine State for over a decade. On my tropical planet, Uggs are for ice skating rinks and flip-flops are a 365-days-a-year, four-season, day or night fashion DO. Eleven years ago, I landed on a jet plane in Miami and promptly put my ribbed Gap turtlenecks and boxy, v-neck J. Crew sweaters in a plastic crate and forgot about them. A few weeks ago, I arrived in New Jersey knowing full well that there would be winter wardrobe shopping to do, but I had no idea it would happen so soon!
I’m no fool. I bought a three-quarter length, black North Face insulated parka for a great price, and I must thank Caroline, who was working in the dressing room, for helping me understand the timeline for purchasing such seasonal items as well as accommodating my “new girl” naïveté.
“Am I supposed to buy a winter coat now?” I asked Caroline.
“You’re funny,” she said. She mistook my stupidity for schtick.
“No, really,” I said. “Am I an idiot if I don’t leave here today with this coat?”
She paused for a moment and then said, “The prices will go back up.”
As the new kid on the block, I’m keen on listening to those in the know, and Caroline knew things. She helped me choose a coat style with the right length and thickness, and she assured me that with an appropriate scarf on top and strategic layering underneath, it might be the only coat I’ll need for the winter. We’ll see, Caroline, we’ll see.
With an extra-large shopping bag in tow, I headed back downstairs to the shoe department. Sadly, I didn’t find the sandals I was looking for, but I want you to know that I stopped short of buying boots, even though there were many winter-inspired footwear styles to consider. I’m not ready for boots any more than my toes are, so my new North Face friend will have to hang in the closet all by herself…for now.
I did, though, take a stroll over to Anthropologie, which, coincidentally, is located in the same mall. I won’t spare you the details of what happened there. Just know that I’ve been under a lot of pressure lately. And my driver’s license photo.
*Proud Shopaholic since at least as far back as this caricature drawn at a bar mitzvah in 1988.