Saturday, January 8, 2011
Waiting in Lines at H&M: Where Sarah Learned the Art of Letting Your Mind Wander
Today I went on an artist's date. I woke up a little panicky. About what, I'm not sure. Taking myself on a date isn't exactly like going on a typical date. I mean, I'm pretty comfortable with myself, I don't mind if I don't shave my legs, and I don't have to worry if I think my jokes are funny or if I have food in my teeth- because I know my jokes are hilarious, and so is having food in my teeth. But seeing as I get panicky over most things, I rolled out myself out of bed and told myself to got over it. I showered, dressed, procrastinated, brushed my teeth, and procrastinated some more. I trudged downstairs and said a disgruntled goodbye to Emily. I headed downtown to Powell's for some quiet reflection surrounded by my three dearest friends- words, characters, and can't-turn-the-page-fast-enough plots.
I perused the variously themed rooms- Rose, Purple, Green; Children's, History, Classical Literature. After searching in vain for this beautifully illustrated copy of Emily Dickinson's My Letter to the World and purchasing a short book about writing novels, I perched myself in the cafe against the wall of windows, across from the Buffalo Exchange. In front of me was a vanilla latte and a copy of Emma. To my right was a devout chemistry student taking up three seats with her work and listening to Lil Wayne at a level most otolaryngologists would disapprove of. The garbled hip hop did not frame my reading of Jane Austen well, but there wasn't anywhere else to sit, and after a while you just get used to things like that. It wasn't until she left to go to the bathroom, and my brain let out a sigh of relief, that I realized I wouldn't be able to ignore her quite as successful when she returned. So I packed my things, took a final sip of that vanilla latte, and headed to Antrhopologie to see what sorts of inspiration awaited me.
I love Anthropologie, to point of hating Anthropologie. I used quite a bit of restraint, but seeing that "Sale" sign by the front door was rather ominous. Artist dates are not excuses to buy things you don't need, however, so I kept myself to the books and little trinkets that tend to set my imagination afire. There's something about perfume puffs and the tinkling of those delicate tea cups that I simply can't resist. Surrounding yourself with beautiful things can do nothing but aid in the creative process... Right? I left with beautiful copy of Anne of Green Gables, a book of inspirations by Paulo Coehlo and a delicate, tinkling tea cup.
Next I took myself (and my newly acquired books and china) to H&M, where I had a gift card to work my way through. People in Portland are a little intense when it comes to H&M. Really, the dressing room lines, the clothes scattered every which way and the dazed looking employees are a little silly. But I struggled through it, finding some very preppy things to wear to a "Soul Dance Party" tonight (very well then, I contradict myself).
I should mention that I forgot my phone this morning. At first blush, this was a panic-worthy revelation. But a few hours and some deep breaths later, I realized that I could, in fact, get along fine without it. It wasn't until I stood in line for a dressing room at H&M that I really started to miss the little guy. But, as 5 minutes turned into 15, which turned eventually turned into 30 and so on, I noticed something odd taking place. Rather than distracting myself with Facebook statuses and Twitter updates, I was... thinking, imagining, conjuring and creating. Recently I've been worried about my lake of creativity and increasingly shortened attention span. But just 3 hours without my phone, and I was coming up with ideas for a novel, framing new blog ideas, and thinking of how very much Emma and I are alike.
I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be getting out of these artist's dates- I'm not exactly short on alone time and the concept was beginning to feel a little trivial. But the process of intentionally carving out a block of time where you are forced to communicate with no one but yourself- even if you're doing something you might be doing otherwise- can be truly monumental. It's just like creating space and time for a couple to come together to reconnect, communicate, and get to know one another again. I had almost forgotten how wildly my mind can work when it's allowed to wander at will. It was refreshing and encouraging to know that I am always a fountain of new ideas, I just need to allow opportunities for my imagination to do what it does best.
What started as an apathetic attempt to fulfill a goal I'm being held accountable to, turned into a really beautiful experience of getting back in touch with the parts of myself- my nuances- that are lost, forgotten, and overlooked on a daily basis. This is an artist's date at the core and I highly recommend them for anyone wanting to recharge, reconnect and remember the little qualities that make them extraordinary.