Recently I had to travel for work. As an academic, I've adopted what I like to think of as rumpled chic. I'm hoping to affect the absent-minded professor look. In all likelihood, I actually need a serious fashion intervention, but who has time for that between work and dealing with special needs kids?
So, at 7 o'clock the night before my early-morning departure, I realized that none of my business wear, or at least not enough of it to pull together a complete outfit, fit anymore.
Exhausted after a day full of teaching and grading and an evening of making dinner, giving baths, and mediating sibling strife, I knew I had no other choice. "I'm going shopping," I said to Ren, grabbing my keys and wallet.
"Ok," he responded unfazed, surrounded by three kids who still needed to be put to bed. This isn't the first time I've had to go shopping the night before a trip.
Thank goodness for holiday hours. The mall was open later than usual, and the clerk at the department store made it her mission to get me into shape. But first she had to give me a hard time.
"You're an educated woman," she said in a thick German accent, unexpected in the rural Midwest. "Why aren't you prepared?"
Ah, that eternal question. Why wasn't I prepared?
I wanted to explain about Sky and Stow and the diet and the doctors' appointments and the therapies, but what good would it do? Have I ever really been prepared?
In the end Rita helped me find three pairs of pants, three blouses, and two jackets. She walked me to the shoe department to make sure the shoes I bought would have the right size heel. She steamed the jackets and reminded me to put socks in the folds of the pants to avoid creasing when I packed.
I know how to do all these things, but it was nice to be reminded just the same.
If it hadn't been for Rita at the mall, and Ren, who graciously sewed a new button onto my coat at the eleventh hour (once I figured out where I'd stored the coat after I last wore it two winters ago), and Stow's speech therapist, who brought dinner to Ren and the kids the second night I was gone, things wouldn't have gone nearly as well.
"I hope that whatever you wish to happen happens," Rita said to me as I walked away, purchases in hand.
"Indeed!" I thought.
Though I'm not sure what I that is anymore.