“My mama told me, ‘You better shop around.'” — Smokey Robinson
I love to shop. I love shiny new things, ideally with that new-thing smell, and most definitely with that new-thing fascination– even if I bought them secondhand (because, they’re new to me).
I’ve spent hours in dressing rooms, trying things on to see if they fit — not just my body, but my life. I stand in front of the mirrors, turning this way and that; analyzing myself from all possible angles, fantasizing about the occasions that will justify the investment, and often relieved if the outfit proves unworthy.
But if the item in question is really special, I may splurge on it, faithful that the perfect occasion will arise. Often, these items languish for years in my already-overstuffed wardrobes before they see the light of day; the new-thing smell long since gone, along with the fascination.
At times, I stumble upon something I’m not even certain I like, but quickly becomes indispensable. But at other times, I luck up on that rare piece that is both exceptional and practical. These are the items you wish you could wear every day of the year — and might, if every occasion and temperature permitted.
Surely, you have a few of these items: that pair of jeans that makes your ass look like perfection; or the sunglasses that never look pretentious because they’re the epitome of cool. Boots that make your legs look a mile long, yet you can walk in them for miles because they’re so comfortable. These are the coveted classics.
For me, it’s a black leather jacket with rose gold hardware that fits me like a glove, and feels as soft as one. I searched for it for years, not even knowing for certain what I was looking for until the moment I found it.
Perhaps if I’d spent as much time dating as I have shopping (or shopping for things to wear on dates), I’d have realized earlier how similar the processes are. There’s the same deliberation and fantasy while trying to decide if it’s worth the investment. Sadly, there’s a perverse but similar contemplation, when determining whether the hemline you wish was a hair shorter or the voice you wish was a bit deeper is a deal-breaker.
But when I found myself on a date with a cute and charming attorney—with a disarmingly Obama-esque vibe—earlier this week, I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps I’d lucked up on that rare find. I’ll call him “The Counselor.” Trust me when I say he was not a hard sell.
Truth is, I’d been eyeing this one for a while. We’d lightly flirted on Tinder for weeks, while languishing on respective vacations half a world apart. While I wasn’t reserving a spot for him, I was certainly hoping he’d follow through upon his return, because there was an instant ease with this one, even via text. And, assuming he was actually the guy featured in his pics, he was cute; the kind of cute that doesn’t need to grow on you. (Coincidentally, so am I, so we already had that in common.)
In person, he didn’t disappoint. Sure, he looked a bit like one of my least-favorite exes (okay, so maybe I do have a type), but definitely no deal-breakers. He’s an entrepreneur, community organizer and former (Democratic) politician, and single father, successfully co-parenting an adorable five-year-old. Plus, he knows his way around a good red wine. Things were looking very promising…
But sometimes, a seemingly perfect find can be tragically flawed; flawed enough to know there’s no point in taking it home—at least, not today. After nearly 6 hours of conversation, the Counselor was definitely winning me over, despite the fact that he’d extensively Googled me—and found enough about me to even Google my mom(?). While concerned by his enthusiastic investigating, I was still cautiously optimistic—right up to the moment he admitted that he’s only separated, not divorced.
As the child of divorced parents, I understand how painful and complicated separations can be, especially when a child is involved. But when anyone tells me they’ve allowed a separation to drag on for years without filing for divorce, I have to question whether they actually want to be—especially when they’ve already reached an amicable co-parenting arrangement. When both parties are willing, it’s simply too easy to divorce, especially when one of those parties is a practicing attorney.
As a woman who once placed herself in the devastating position of falling for a separated but never divorced single father in the past, it’s simply a boundary I’m not willing to cross again. Ultimately, the love wasn’t worth the heartbreak—and I learned that I’m worth more than just the waiting game.
Sometimes, even the best-looking buy on the rack just isn’t destined to fit. As a confident shopper, this may be disappointing; but it’s far from heartbreaking. There is always another season, another store, another favorite waiting to be found. There is always the possibility of a better fit.
As a dater (finally) gaining her confidence, I guess all I can do is keep shopping around.