Pleasure

my perfume shelf

I’ve gone on a streak lately of buying myself items I’ve either wanted since childhood, or replacing items stolen/gone/cherished from many years ago. Yesterday, in one of my rare trips to the MegaMall (Mall of America for those outside Minnesota) I replaced a leopard print umbrella that matched one my first college roommate stole. I may yet find and replace the red velvet dress that, according to my second college roommate, has been at the dry cleaners for around 16 years now.  My perfume shelf now has an assortment of Walgreen’s classics: Muguet, Preferred Stock, a knock-off of Obsession that I wore in the 7th grade (my mother hated that) and some Love’s Babysoft Jasmine Musk. I’m still hunting for the remainder of the Love’s line, especially Rain. I know it’s still in production.

I don’t have a total list, and some new stuff has crept in to this strange little collection. I finally bought myself a disappearing TARDIS mug; I’ve wanted it since I was 12 and saw it offered on a PBS fundraising special. (My father did not consider this sufficient grounds for donation.) I also nabbed a digital keychain so I can make a techy Doctor Who fan necklace. I’m finally indulging in getting the pretty, lacy, Goddessy items that were looked down on when I was young – and I love them. I love how I look in them. I’m just as potent in clothing that reflects my inner aesthetic as I am in clothing that is all solid colors and straight lines. And I feel better in that clothing.

Obtaining these toys and baubles – while carefully monitoring my intake to avoid clutter/hoarding – is prompted by the Artist’s Way work I’ve been doing. It does seem like replacing cherished childhood books and wearing a lily perfume heals the wounds and cuts in my soul over time. It also prompted a realization in me, based on what I’m taking in with great care, and what I’m pushing out after minimal consideration:

I’ve spent a good chunk of my life buying what I’m supposed to, instead of what I actually want. I can only imagine the money I’d saved if I’d just gone ahead and let myself have the shinies that I truly wanted. I have scores of books on broad subjects, and yes, I cherish reading above nearly all activities, but many are ones I grabbed because I felt it virtuous to make an effort to be informed, not because I felt any core desire for knowledge on the topic. Until my 30s, most of my clothing ranged from comfortable hippyesque to business utilitatarian: whatever fit that wasn’t completely terrible. I didn’t enjoy clothing, because there was pressure on me at home not to enjoy it, even though it was obvious I absolutely loved finding new outfits and stuffing my closet. It was billed as “shallow,” and therefore to be disrupted. The approach was very black and white, and did not take into account that it was one of many interests I had. I feel gratified now at what I’ve made of my interest in clothing, and the knowledge that digging through thrift stores, discount racks, consignment stores and yes, even department stores actually does have a benefit beyond myself.

Enjoyment finds a way to bubble up, but it seems like anything that brings any enjoyment at all is immediately dubbed a “guilty” pleasure, rather than just a pleasure. If the movies we watch aren’t “smart” enough, if the stuff we eat isn’t at exactly the right fat/protein/carb count, if a massage or spa time feels remotely good, we immediately call ourselves shallow, call the pleasure “sinful” and make ourselves feel bad for feeling good. The end result is a bizarre, defiant overindulgence of our favorites of those pleasures, as though making ourselves bad somehow compensates for the simple act of liking what we like.

That’s fucked up.

So right now, I’m taking tiny steps – a toy car here, a sketch class there, maybe even sock back some money for the Aikido classes I begged for as a kid – to reclaim what I was convinced I should deny myself.  I’ve overindulged the wrong things, things I didn’t really want for years. I’m in a unique position to give myself these indulgences, to spoil my child self, and I’m doing exactly that.

I’ve also spoiled my adult self here and there. You should SEE the pumps I bought for fancy nights out.