Saturday, October 18, 2008

Suburban Outfitters

When the possibility of moving to Durham first came up, one of my very first acts was to look up whether or not there was an Urban Outfitters in the area.  There was.  So I told Willie I'd consider the move.

Now, I know that Urban Outfitters is over-priced and overly-trendy and that their whole look, as illustrated in their catalogs, is the coked-out waif who lives in a forest with her rocker grunge boyfriend and and that they spend their time typing on their vintage typewriter and eating off of plates in the shape of birds.   And it's not even that most of my wardrobe comes from there.   I'm a much more equal opportunity shopper than that.

But, somehow knowing that I could make the 20 minute drive to Urban Outfitters if necessary was comforting.  Like finding your same brand of rice in another state.

Well, yesterday, the trek to Urban was necessary.  Necessary because I had plotted it out two weeks ago and had been looking forward to it ever since.  I wasn't going to go crazy; I had a little list of possible things I "needed" and was mostly excited to see what kind of Urban Outfitters it would be (as there are better and worse ones).

Because of the chickenshit bingo law of high expectations, my giddiness was checked soon after the trip began.  First of all, driving to a giant suburban mall on some country-ish roads to go to "Urban" Outfitters felt somehow wrong.  There was a traffic jam just driving into the mall (what recession?), and I had to drive around to find a parking spot.  It was so un-waif-in-the-forest like. 

Then, like in any Urban Outfitters, I had to contend with the gaggles of teenagers and their moms who are buying them clothes.  Where was my mom, I wondered.  

Of course, I spent way too long in the store,  picking something up, deciding I couldn't live without it, carrying it around, and putting it back.  I changed my mind about 37 times and stayed long enough so that I heard the mix cd one-and-a-half times and saw the staff do at least a couple rotations of greeter to dressing rooms to cash register.

As I finally made my way to the cash register to get only what I needed (Wonder Woman t-shirt costume, thermal shirt, plastic bracelet with saints on it, yellow scarf), I felt tired and dirty and lonely amidst the southern suburban teenagers.  I longed for the Urban Outfitters in Chicago situated on streets in neighborhoods with sidewalks accessible by bike or public transportation.  I started composing invitations to my UO pity party.

And then she appeared.   Her name was Karina, and she was the employee at the end of the register counter.  It started with a conversation about a scarf which led to layers which led to cold which led to Chicago which led to her hailing from Texas and moving here a year ago just for the adventure which led to me wanting to get her phone number and ask her to hang out all the time but that's weird, so I didn't.  

In the two minutes that I spent with Karina, she wasn't too preppy, and she wasn't too hippie -- she was just right.

Who knows if I'll see her again, who knows how often I'll go back to the mall, but all it took was one normal-seeming person working in a store I hate to love in the middle of some giant suburban mall in South Durham to feel like maybe, just maybe, things will be okay.


Ashley said...

The mall can really make you feel lost, it's weird. You should create a secondary, no-waifs-in-the-forest-allowed, blog, where you rate shopping in the area (A Naomi-yelp, if you will). You could create little business cards and give them to people like Karina, so you're all professional (and not fear that you're being creepy), but still create a circle of good people. You're a great writer. Just an idea...

Naomi Jane said...

Ooohh, good idea, Ashley! I love the yelp and card idea. Thank you! I know you know my Urban problem....

Claire Just Claire Like Cher said...

Okay, between your incredibly hilarious and apt description of Urban CatalogWorld and the "chickenshit bingo law of expectations" (which is much funnier than Murphy's Law and must now be used frequently by all), I was sitting here laughing out loud at my Monday morning work desk. Thanks, because lord knows we needed that. It was Katie who spotted the new blog entry -- you are our lifeline, just as Karina can be the sign that Durham will be okay. LOVING the blog, and want more details (of course) on the (sub)Urban picks and such. Big ups to you always...