I got my hair cut on Wednesday for the first time since November. Last fall, COVID numbers were soaring, so John and I decided to hunker back down and keep our excursions to the grocery store. It's been a lonely winter, even with my best friend around.
After my haircut, my amazing stylist (she is an artist and also a wonderful therapist at times) and I took a walk around the neighborhood, since we hadn't seen each other in a season. She's incredibly fashionable, kind, and witty as hell, so I always expect a good conversation. A pair of hip, lace-up-bottomed pants displayed in a storefront window caught her eye, so we paused to study them. She joked that because of all of our work loss (she's also a bartender), she'd have to stick to window shopping for now, and that she even "window shops" at online stores, dreaming of all the cool clothes she'll eventually want to purchase. I confided that at the beginning of the pandemic, I spent money exclusively on groceries, prescriptions, and yes, Disney Plus, and that's all I allowed myself.
Mid-summer, John and I had a call with a trusted family friend, who gave us the go-ahead to get takeout once a week or buy a new item of clothing if it gave us a bit of a mental lift. His justification: "What's the point of holding on to every penny if you're miserable?"
When we got off the call I remember bursting into tears and asking John, "Can we get takeout tonight?" Those of you who know me well know that we got Pho. It was the highlight of the last several months. Remember, this is back when we had a full day's worth of sunlight. My college self would have scoffed at me if she was in the room that day. Remember when we lived off of coffee and ramen? You've gone soft on me!
Yesterday, on a long walk, I allowed myself to step into an art shop for a moment. I starve without art, without color, without eccentric and beautiful things around me. A year ago I wouldn't have admitted that, but my college self is right; A year of isolation and stress has certainly changed me. Budget in mind, I picked out a small art print and a pair of odd cutlery earrings. The cashier jokingly called me "The Winter Ninja" since I had a dark mask, dark blue eyeliner and a black beanie cap on. We shared a laugh, and for a moment, I felt normal, or whatever I think normal feels like these days. My face hurt from smiling while John hung the print on the wall near my sink. (It's a JSalvador painting of my favorite Marvel heroine, Jessica Jones. More on PTSD later, though. I have plenty on that. Don't rush a good thing!)
Back to my walk with the stupidly, all-around wonderful stylist-bartender-counselor-trend consultant-friend. She agreed that finding small ways to connect with the things you once loved is a brain saver. A well placed candle, a rearranged reading nook, that one bottle of nice wine you've been saving for 6 months while drinking toilet hooch in the meantime to save money (okay, not toilet hooch, but $2.99 wine is a close second)...all of these things are important. I found that I might not even need a tangible fix. Sitting in the park reading a book this summer felt like a vacation. I got a free app that identifies flowers and plants on site, and that's provided hours of entertainment. (Seek! Get it!)
In "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron, the author argues that observation is the key to sanity. The chives are growing back in after the winter freeze! The gecko really ate that insect up quickly! The rain sounds nice today. That print looks dope over my sink, and I get to look at it every day. All of this comes back to yesterday's post: the desire to live can be beautifully colored with rewards and surprises.
I hope you have time and metal/emotional space to reward yourself with something small and meaningful today. Drop your favorite treats (material and otherwise) in the comments if you like. It might inspire others.
Until tomorrow, stay safe, stay well, and stay kind.