For all the years in recent memory, Thanksgiving meant spending the day at Henry’s family’s house and occasionally making it over to my Dad’s for desert. The next day began before dawn, with 5 am or earlier meetings at Starbucks and coffee to kick start the adventure. The day would be spent in and out of the car, in and out of the stores, picking up all the Christmas gifts I could find and a new pair of shoes from time-to-time.
This year, I celebrated Thanksgiving with Kevin’s mom’s side of the family in the morning. Followed by a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at my Dad’s house where I got to see my stepsister and meet her, now, fiance. The day ended with a quick pop-in for snow cones at Kevin’s Dad’s. The following morning didn’t start with any early morning alarms or the pushing of crowds through the stores. It was relaxing, with waffles for breakfast and YouTube on the TV.
But, with the urge to see what was out there, and quite possibly the fear of missing out on a great deal, we eventually made our way out to explore.
I have never been one to enjoy crowds. People in close quarters annoy me. The things they talk about, the way they move, even the things they wear, all of it finds its way under my skin and takes the form of an obnoxious irritating rash. Given this, my love of Black Friday shopping makes no sense. That is until you consider how I dislike spending money and love a good deal. Plus, shopping for others has always been a favorite of mine; getting that perfect gift and watching the reaction on their face when they open it – like the year I got my nephew shark slippers.
Together, Kevin and I wondered the mall. My face displayed the constant state of annoyance that my body felt. The one thing I wanted to do that day ended up being the last place I wanted to be.
I felt guilty. Guilty that I had not reached out the my usual Black Friday shopping partner to at least tell her I was sitting this year out. I felt like a traitor, that I was taking memories from another time and replacing them with something else. I felt overwhelmingly sad as I passed by things MJ would have loved and I had no reason to buy for her any more.
MJ had been my best little friend, she was less then a year old when we first met. I remember snapping selfies with her before she was could even talk. I had watched her grow up over the last nine years, she was Henry’s niece. MJ and I were two peas in a pod, we had matching t-shirts, Halloween costumes, and would occasionally do full blown outfits. We would go shopping. She’d join me to my friend’s kids birthday parties and I always made an appearance at hers. Around Christmas time, she was one of my favorite people to shop for. But, when I ended things with Henry a few months earlier, that ended our relationship too.
I was uncomfortable and too ashamed to admit it, so I pushed on.
As we parked the car in the Target parking lot, I pushed back the tears and said everything was okay. That was a lie. Inside I was having this endless battle with myself. The want to be able to do the things I had before without all of this heartache and pain. The desire to go home and curl up in bed. The need to be better then that. Morning the part of my life that was forever changed.
And there I sat, in the Target parking lot, tears rolling down my cheeks as I told Kevin everything that was “wrong.”