The idea began in February 2009 over lunch with my friend Elissa, someone I like but rarely see. She walked into the restaurant wearing a fitted black coat with a high collar. Black Lingerie
“Wow,” I said admiringly. “Some coat.”
She stroked the sleeve. “Yeah. I bought it at the end of my no shopping year. I still feel a little bad about it.”
Elissa told me the story. After leaving India the year before, she decided she had enough stuff, or too much stuff. She made a pledge that for a year she wouldn’t buy shoes, clothes, purses, or jewellery.
I was impressed by her conviction, but she shrugged it off. “It wasn’t hard.”
After that, I did some small-scale experiments of my own, giving up shopping for Lent for a few years. I was always surprised by how much better it made me feel. Blue Lingerie But it wasn’t until New Year’s Day 2017 that I decided to follow my friend’s example.
At the end of 2016, our country had swung in the direction of gold leaf, an ecstatic celebration of unfeeling billionairedom that kept me up at night. I couldn’t settle down to read or write, and in my anxiety I found myself mindlessly scrolling through two particular shopping websites, numbing out with images of shoes, clothes, purses and jewellery. I was trying to distract myself, but the distraction left me feeling worse, the way a late night in a bar smoking Winstons and drinking gin leaves you feeling worse. The unspoken question of shopping is “What do I need?”, but I didn’t need anything. What I needed was less than what I had.
And so I decided to follow my friend’s example. My plan had been to give up what Elissa gave up – things to wear – but a week into my no-shopping year I bought a portable speaker that resembled a very large button. Then I realised my mistake: a no-shopping year should definitely include whimsical electronics, and so I came up with my own arbitrary set of rules. I wanted a plan that was serious but not so draconian that I’d bail out in February, so while I couldn’t buy clothing or speakers, I could buy anything in the grocery store, including flowers. I could buy shampoo and printer cartridges and batteries, but only after I’d run out of what I had. I could buy plane tickets and eat out in restaurants.Brown Lingerie I could buy books because I write books and I co-own a bookstore and books are my business. Could I have made it a full year without buying books? Absolutely. I could have used the library or read the books that were already in my house, but I didn’t, I bought books.