An interesting thing happened. For Christmas, I received a gift card to a woman's clothing store.
Anyone that reads this blog knows that I generally buy my clothing from a thrift store. I find nice clothes there, really nice stuff. I'm careful. I choose carefully. Good labels. No flaws. I look for colors that will match with things that I already have. I dress nicely, but I also dress cheaply.
There is a reason for that. Part of it is that I read about a small boy in India who worked in a clothing factory. He was killed by the men he worked with because "he was annoying". He was the same age as my beloved little grandson. Why should a five year old be working in a factory? That glimpse of another world struck me as unutterably heartbreaking, that a child should be slaving away in a dirty factory around unkind people for no other reason than to fulfill this world's demand for some new piece of clothing or some plastic geegaw.
Another part of it is that I have listened to voices telling me from my earliest time what I deserved, what I didn't deserve. 'All good things must be earned'. If you didn't earn them, you didn't deserve them. A marriage to a man who became convinced that he deserved better. His wife who believed that self same thing from a very secret place in her own heart. Raising kids who I was convinced deserved better. I wanted them to have everything but knew at the heart of it, I had nothing at all to give them. Now they are grown and they have done better for themselves than I have ever done. It's a shocking realization. I am awed by their successes. They have struck out on their own paths and they are good paths, amazing paths.
It is just Tim and I, and we have no need to be as careful as I am, but still, I think about a little boy in India, gone all these years, and really, the things that I find in thrift stores are good enough for me. About how important it is to live within my means.
Anyways, I took my $40 gift card to the store after Christmas. They were having quite a sale. I found a long midnight blue cardigan with tiny flecks of gray and gold in it. The yarn was smooth and soft. I folded it over my arm and continued on. I found a sleeveless shirt with sweet detailing on the front that would be perfect under the cardigan. I placed them side by side and studied the effect. I was surprised at the pleasure I felt. I looked some more and found a bulky knit cardigan, charcoal gray. I studied it, and mentally matched it up with two shirts that I had at home already, a casual and a dressy shirt. After my purchases, I still had money left over. I finished my trip with a stop at my favorite thrift store. I found a pullover sweater, natural yarns. I also found a pretty flannel tunic. I also bought three books.
It was quite a luxurious day.
In the days since, I've been thinking about that a lot, about the quiet little part of me that celebrated those clothes. About the more dominant part of me that feels undeserving or that I owe a debt to the rest of the world. I don't know what it is exactly, but there is this reluctance to do anything nice for myself. A swirled whirl of old thoughts mixing with the satisfying new experience of buying a new sweater and finding a shirt that matches perfectly.
I went through my drawers and weeded out old clothes to be given to the thrift store. I kept the things that I loved, my favorite cardigans and their matching shirts. My tee shirts. My little collection of comfy flannel shirts . My favorite jeans. It is an unaccustomed feeling, to keep things because I love them. To discard the things that I don't.
This is a strange post. I know it is, but thoughts have been whirling around my mind. After this period of self indulgence, and a week of half days (so far, anyway), we had a meeting yesterday, just before I left. They want to extend us until March.
There are eight more days on my countdown app. This would add at least 42 more days.
I thought about the trip I have planned to go see my son and daughter-in-law and my three year old grand daughter. I have a bag in the corner of a bedroom. When I am out and about, I see things that remind me of that little girl. I get them and I drop them into that bag for my next visit. I've accumulated quite a lot of very exciting things in that bag and I was really looking forward to my trip out to them.
But, I know that I can make that week off a precondition of my employment. They did that before. Their call had been unexpected, and I had some plans I wasn't willing to change and they wrote it into our agreement. They'd probably do it again. Unless, of course, they are fed up with 'the voice of the people.'
Tim doesn't retire until March. We'd both be retiring about the same time if I took the extension. That seems sensible.
I give a ride in to my son-in-law. This would give him six more weeks, a bit more time to get his own transportation problem sorted out.
I thought about my trip overseas. It would delay that a few weeks, but I'd be socking extra money away. It would make me feel less guilty about the expense of walking out of my life for a month, something I have never done before.
I think about all these things weighing them, turning it over and over in my mind. about the fact that accepting the extension simply makes sense, but....
...I just don't want to.
And it makes me feel selfish to say that out loud.