Saturday, March 24, 2007

So Sari, A New Me

After years in recovery—teamed with years in therapy-- you can begin to believe that you have a handle on yourself. That you know some stuff and that you are onto your own tricks.

Part of this is about transferring addictions but if you’ve been around awhile that’s no surprise. I quit smoking, then drinking, then starving, getting weighed, diet pills, exercise bulimia, obsessing over wearing a certain size or the number of the scale. After most of that felt calm I saw the men stuff, the relationship issues were there all along of course, but then not dating or actually learning TO date: go out with a nice somewhat boring man, participate in a fun social activity together, share only the smallest amount of personal information, come home, say thank you at the door and do the same with a different person the next week. Dating. Who knew?

OK, so there was that to work on: more therapy and alanon and ACOA. Then of course noticing the money and the shopping and not earning enough money and not saving any money...addiction by any other name is addiction.

But here is the latest peek at myself. I’ve been looking at handbags—an old love and a fashion object. About two weeks ago in the Sundance catalog I saw a tote bag that was described as being made from old Indian Sari’s...the photos showed theree of this bag, different colors and prints, it had a long leather strap that looked like it could go across the body. Hmmm. Only $98. Of course that’s over $100 with tax and delivery but still I had paid much more and there was something about the soft fabric and the old saris, I mean it would have some other—older Indian—woman’s karma right? And for spring/summer...this soft bag across my body with kahiskirts and jeans and sandals. A nice look.

So I order the bag...takes seven days. I say “expect it in ten”…I’m already trying to manage my own desire. I wait the week and three days. I pass up other purses when I shop, “Nope, the old sari quilted bag, slouched just so across my body, the worn leather, --it will be burnished after several wearings"—I can feel it all and UPS hasn’t arrived yet.

But then it does. I come home to “the box”. Here it is. I’m excited. How soon should I wear it, I wonder. But then I open the box and there is a lumpy, kind of laundry-bag looking sack. It is made of old fabric yes, but the bag part is huge and the strap is cheap thin leather with a shiny surface. It will never soften or burnish. I sling it across my body and I recognize the look. I demonstrate for my husband: I bend and scoop, bend and scoop. It looks like the kind of cloth sling/sack that women wore to pick cotton. This is not chic, not cool, not very nice, has no Karma. I’m disappointed.

But it’s what happens next that surprises me. I know that I don’t want THIS bag, and I want my money back. That is clear. My husband, laughing at my cotton picking imitation says, “Send it back and get something you like.” Yes, of course. That makes sense, that’s the right thing to do. But something is holding me back. I try the Sari hunk of cloth bag again. I put all my regular purse contents inside it hoping that somehow my things inside will transform this into MY purse. Nope. It just looks even droopier and like an old laundry bag.

So what’s holding me back? It’s not until I am filling out the return form and packing the Sari bag in the carton to go back to Sundance that I realize. It’s not just the bag I have to return, it’s the new identity that I have constructed in my head. I get it: in the ten days from ordering the bag to seeing the actual object, I had constructed a new me to go with the bag: I was going to be causally chic, I was going to BE the kind of woman who wore old sari cloth with khaki and denim and simple sandals, I was going to be the slightly bohemian, somewhat hippy-ish chick, that tossed a bag like this across her body and…

And what? Laughed more, worried less, sat in coffee shops and didn’t sweat the to-do list, was able to toss my hair back (my hair barely touches my ears) and laugh, listen, be still and relaxed. I wanted to be relaxed and this silky sari-quilted bag was supposed to bring that to me.

And now I had to send that and her back with the frumpy, lumpy bag.

In ten days I had created a new me and done a kind of geographic cure without even leaving my house. And then the UPS man delivered reality right back to me.

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