Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Head Takes a Trip to THE City

I live in a city. One with skyscrapers and night clubs intermingled with vegan delis and art galleries. But our shopping it not good. The smaller boutique shops are full of cheap, trendy items that fall apart of leave me itchy from the synthetics, and we simply don't have any department stores. Sure, they are in more suburban areas of the city limits, but we were looking for the whole enchilada. My mom had heard tell of a mythical multi-story discount clothing store that was nestled in the heart of our local metropolis, so we decided to trek the 45 minutes on the freeway to THE city to discover its earthly delights.

Hint: There's a hideous orange bridge that we seem inclined to call golden, and there are a higher than average percentage of people who are not allowed to marry. Yet.

We left my city at about 8:30am. My mom drove, and my geographically talented boyfriend navigated. I sat in the front seat with my head still and my sea-bands firmly pressing into that magical pressure point that was keeping me from feeling too barfy. With an umbrella, two joints, a couple cough drops, a soma, a super-motrin, two pairs of earplugs and menthol chapstick in my purse and three icepacks and eight bottles of water in the cooler, I felt as prepared as I could get. We hit traffic and my mom stressed a little. Not sure if it was the pitch to her voice or the stop and go motion, but my head started in on me right then. I got out an icepack and wore it for the rest of the ride. Once we got up there, there were more navigational adventures, which I tuned out. I'm not good with maps. Or bizarre six-way stoplights with vague lane changes.

We landed in the ridiculously overpriced parking garage in THE city at about 10am. We got a small breakfast and headed to Ross. It was four stories. We were there for about two hours. It was not fun. The money you save on clothing is taken out on your sanity. It was crowded. The aisles of racks of clothes are so close together, two people have to practically hug to get around each other and not knock anything over. There were a lot of people there, too, for a Tuesday. I was hoping to find the place deserted, as it often happens in my city on weekdays, so I could browse the racks slowly and quietly. Instead, there was a lot of people, wearing gallons of cologne and all either walking slowly in front of me or walking so closely behind me that they stepped on my shoes (twice!). And of course, there were the standard staples of the department store: harsh lighting and soul-sucking sessions in the fitting room. I spent the last 30 minutes of our visit sitting on the floor in housewares with my sunglasses on, just leaning against a wall. Sucking on my water bottle and fighting back the tears (mostly successful), I wished my eyeballs would just fall out of my head already.

I was hoping to be able to medicate myself effectively while we were up there, but I was already way past soma or ibuprofen, and there was nowhere discreet to smoke. We were in such a busy area, there was nowhere to go that did not have forty-thousand other people already there. I considered asking a cop if there was anywhere I could go, but my mom convinced me not to. In hindsight, I really should have. The worst he could have said was no, since I would only be asking for a place to legally medicate. Next time.

So, without anywhere to smoke and my head giving me a right beating, I was given the opportunity to leave. I suggested that we instead get lunch, thinking that if I got some protein and a little caffeine in me, and could just sit for a little while, I might be good enough to hit another store. It took me twenty minutes to decide on what I wanted, with a headache confusing me and nausea convincing me to put down everything I picked up. I finally settled on an albacore tuna salad and a couple spicy tuna rolls from this awesome little grocery store deli. I sat and ate and sipped my soda. I felt better. We went to Old Navy and shopped for another hour or so, which officially tired everyone out.

I rode home in the passenger seat, sea-bands fighting my nausea for me and the last cold icepack in the cooler on my head. I was in a hell of a lot of pain, after all that, but happy. I'd found a new purse, a cute summer dress and a pair of earrings. I'd spent a good part of the day with family, laughing and being silly. And I knew for sure I'd sleep good that night.