The Purple of Life

She told me to hold on to the purple in my life.

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Location: Chicago, United States

I'm a 37-year-old editor and city dweller, wife and mother, moderately liberal and radically optimistic. I would fill my perfect day with a cup of coffee and the Op Ed section, a flea market and the playground, a run along Lake Michigan, a walk through the neighborhood with my son and my greyhound, a Cuban dinner and a bottle of red with my husband, and an evening flight to some European city. I wouldn't be picky about which one.

May 11, 2006

Only boys who save their pennies make my rainy day

Lately I’ve been feeling like quite the material girl—lusting after all these things that I want to buy. I ordered this bag from Target and when it arrived I considered bringing it to bed with me that evening—I love it so. (Don’t even read that Josie person’s review; she’s sadly misguided.) I also purchased this book from Amazon and am anxiously awaiting its arrival. Last Saturday John and I went downtown to have an H&M experience, during which I found a very flattering white cotton wrap-around blouse, short-sleeved and lacy, and some gray linen pants for work. And this week I am contemplating joining the masses and outfitting myself in a pair of light-blue or green Cayman Crocs, which are ugly to the point of being darling and look supremely comfortable, especially for walking the dog and camping.

I want, I want, I want. I feel kind of guilty when I get into one of these shopping jags—it usually has something to do with the change of seasons—but they don’t last long, and it’s not like I’m slapping down the plastic at Barney’s or William Sonoma. Still. I already have so much.

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Even when I’m not actually shopping, I always like to imagine what I’d choose if presented with, say, all the watches advertised in a newspaper flyer from Marshall Field’s, or all the sandals in the window of my neighborhood shoe store. If I had to pick one pair, which would it be? For some reason, this exercise in pretend decision-making is quite satisfying to me. Lately I’ve been doing it with tulips: “If I had a house and could plant three colors of tulips in the yard, what would they be?” For now I’ve settled on red, peach-orange, and dark purple, although of course that could change between now and whenever this fictional yard becomes a reality. We have enough on our plate trying to keep the pigeons from nesting on our back deck; I’m not sure we could handle much more nature right now.

—*—

Continuing in the theme of materialism: John and I have always been a bit slow when it comes to upgrading our technology. We didn’t buy a DVD player right away, and until last year we were sharing one cellphone. We still don’t have a CD burner or caller ID (the latter is because we’re cheap). And this past January, after John won his fantasy football pool, we finally bought an iPod. I had never been too interested in having one of these, since I’m not one to zone out with earphones during my daily commute; I like to be able to hear what’s going on around me. And I’ve never required music in order to go for a walk or jog. But I have to say, this little iPod nano is working valiantly to change my mind about all of the above. I don’t use it if I’m walking alone at night or anything, but how soothing is it to start your day by listening to Sufjan Stevens as the train shuttles you to work? Or to blast through a workout mix of U2, Moby, Led Zeppelin, and (yes) Young MC as you cruise along the lakefront path in the sunshine, keeping time to the beat?

It turns out that the worthy iPod can provide a soundtrack to the most mundane moments of life. It adds a sort of poetry to the scenery passing by out the train window. It makes me happy to bring Sarah Harmer to the post office with me when I have to mail a package. When I put the iPod on shuffle and it comes up with Bruce Springsteen’s “Tougher than the Rest,” I am catapulted back to 1999, the summertime, sitting in an old red Saab next to a boy named John. We’ve been dating for a few months, and we’re heading up to northern Michigan on our first camping trip. It’s hot and sunny and my tanned arm is resting outside the car window, and I’m realizing that I kind of like Bruce Springsteen, which is good since John owns almost all of his CDs. A few weeks later, John will make me a mix tape (a mix tape!) that includes some of the songs that are now on our iPod, songs by Fleetwood Mac and Dave Matthews and the Jayhawks and the Indigo Girls. And each one of them, including this one by the Boss, has the power to transport me back to a time in my life that I sometimes forget to remember. Technology can be a very good thing.

3 Comments:

Anonymous lori said...

I'm with you on those dark purple tulips...

Also, we share the lack-of-technology thing. We didn't get a DVD player until a year and a half ago. And it was a gift. And, sadly, I have no iPod. I can't write when there's music playing, and I no longer get to walk to work. Bah!

11:56 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

After coveting my husbands ipod for months, he got me my own for valentine's day. Now I don't know what I did without it.

Also, I heart tulips--especially white ones.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous "Jen in Boston" said...

I feel guilty about the materialism thing too. I have a Cole Haan bag on my wishlist that I have every intention of ordering this week.

8:51 AM  

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