Happy Monday! I’m getting ready to fly out to Taiwan tomorrow. The house sitters have been briefed, cameras have been turned on, and I just need to get to the airport and meet with my sister and her boyfriend to take the flight to Hong Kong then Taiwan. ADVENTURE! I’m trying not to feel too anxious about it :-)
So, today’s post is going to be brief, and I will not be blogging/streaming regularly until I get back and have recovered. I might do a one-day a week post until June, since I will be quite backlogged in my work and need to put some major focus time in.
But enough of that…I want to tell a story about MY NEW FAVORITE SHIRT!
ONCE UPON A TIME IN PETERBOROUGH NEW HAMPSHIRE…
I was in Peterborough, NH picking up my contact lenses, and figured I might go shopping for family gifts. I also decided to look for fun socks, so I started checking out the women’s clothing boutiques in Depot Square. If you know anything about socks, you already know that the men’s sock selection is mostly a colorless landscape devoid of fun, so you have to go to the WOMEN’S section and hope you can find awesome socks that also fit your enormous man feet. Luckily for me, I’ve been investigating my gender identity for the past year and have recently become comfortable enough to look through women’s clothing boutiques without being self-conscious about it. It’s fun to figure out what I like and don’t like, then chat with the staff about their philosophies on style and clothes.
Anyway, I first stopped at Anytime Apparel to see what they had, but they were out of fun socks, so the owner (a very cheerful woman who appears to also collect vintage Barbie toys) sent me across the street to Alice Blue Boutique. There, the shop keeper greeted me with an apologetic tale of the realities of running a business in a touristy area: the busy season is from May to December but they are not fully stocked any other time. Fun socks WOULD be available in a month. This was disappointing news, but she pointed out another store, Joseph’s Coat, just down the street that she thought also might have fun socks.
I thanked the woman and started to leave, but then took a quick look around the store…it was fabulous. I liked everything I saw. The colors were fun, but nuanced. There was a very pleasing layering and proportion to all the pieces I saw on display without being boring. I was officially intrigued, and commented that this store was amazing out-loud. Another customer in the store nodded emphatically and said, “Yeah! I love this place and want to buy everything here” on her way out. I was out the door and on my way to Joseph’s Coat when something inside me said, “YOU NEED TO GO BACK INSIDE TO SEE WHAT IS UPSTAIRS”, so I returned and asked the shop keeper what was upstairs (I had seen the little sign that pointed up the stairs). “Oh, there’s lot’s more upstairs, more clothes and all kinds of stuff” she said, so I said “I want to make sure I don’t miss anything!” and poked my head into the space.
It was, as one might expect, more women’s clothes. There were pants and tops and cute dresses and lots of stuff, all of it exuding a wonderful put-togetherness with regards to color, layering of shapes, and proportion. This I found noteworthy. When I walk by a nice luxury clothing chain and peer through the window, I like to look inside to see what they are doing with the colors of the season; a designer selected and mixed every hue with an exacting eye toward outstanding color harmony across all ensemble pieces within the context of the retail environment while still being on-brand. The retail space itself is ALSO designed to harmonize with the clothing, so overall the effect can be quite pleasurable. In a more typical department store, the color harmony goes out the window; the colors are actually quite terrible, with yucky off-hue base tints that clash in a sea of flat-looking dyes on mediocre fabrics cut into someone’s half-baked idea of a shape. I used to think I had no idea how clothing “worked” and despaired to ever understand, until the day I realized I could apply my own visual design training. When I fall back on that, I do not require a knowledge of fashion to figure out what I like and what I don’t.
This boutique had it going on in in the way I definitely liked, and just about everything I looked at provoked a positive dialog with myself: “I like this! Why do I like it? How is this different? That’s an interesting silhouette!” I know it might sound a bit weird for me to say, but I felt that I could find clothing in this store that would help define a better version of myself. There is something about the collection of clothing in this store that tickles my visual design sense while appealing to my desire to balance a solid foundation with style without becoming stodgy. I am not well-versed enough in clothing to know what exactly is behind these impressions, but I AM smart enough to know that I should pay attention. So I paid attention.
Since I’m not expressing as a woman, there was nothing I really was looking to buy for myself. This made me a bit sad because I wanted a souvenir of this visit, but then out of the corner of my eye I saw a pile of T-shirts that were on sale. I gasped out loud when I saw this:
OMG. Is that a Tyrannosaurus Rex spewing out colorful flowers from its mouth with a mighty RAWR??? That is exactly how I feel when I am in my best mood! RAWR is my online forum battlecry when rallying my friends to take on a new challenge, half ROAR and half HOORAH and another part MEOW all rolled into one. This was to be my souvenir! Forget everything I just said about nuanced style and color harmony…THIS SHIRT was the BOLD EXPRESSION of my very soul!!!
I excitedly brought the shirt downstairs, having picked the LARGE size, but forgetting that it was a woman’s large. The shop keeper said diplomatically that the larges run small, and that there was an XL she would get for me if I wanted to try on the L to see if it fit. As predicted, the L was a bit snug over my other t-shirt, but the XL was fine! SUCCESS! It was shaping up to be an EXCELLENT day, I thought!
“Do you have another card? This one was declined.”
Hm, that was odd, as I knew that this card had plenty of credit on it. I provided my business credit card, and it too was declined. I didn’t have cash, I said in response to her inquiry, but asked if there was a bank nearby that I could withdraw money from.
“Hm,” said the shop keeper, “You know there was a vendor update today and it might not be your cards but our connection. Tell you what, you love that shirt so much I’ll just give it to you!”
I was stunned, and said no no that wouldn’t be right, and I could go to the bank and pay her. But then the shop keeper (who was the co-owner with her mother, it turns out) told me a story about this ring she saw at another store that she really liked and the owner just GAVE it to her, and this act made both the giver and her feel really good. Paying it forward, I said, nodding enthusiastically. Paying it forward, or perhaps just being generous in the moment, is a wonderful thing to practice and I felt a surge of blissful happiness at being the recipient of such an amazing shirt, a shirt that happened to be made just for me to see right at this moment. So I promised the shop owner that I had a blog and a youtube channel that had some followers, and I would happily share the wonders of this store with all. Worth visiting, by any means, on your next trip to Peterborough, New Hampshire!
I did make it to Joseph’s Coat after acquiring the t-shirt, and it’s a fun place too, but all I really care about right now is this TYRANNOSAURUS RAWR-A-SAURUS SHIRT and the cool place I got it from. Let me pay it forward by wholeheartedly endorsing my experience at Alice Blue Boutique. I’m planning on returning with some friends to scope the place out again and see if I can figure out what it is I like so much about the clothes there. It is a moral design imperative!
In today’s WHATS UP DAVE, I talk a bit about the same story but also go through a few of the other things that happened this past week through photos. That’s it for this week; I’ll blog and vlog as I can during the trip!