So needless to say, poetry did not happen this weekend.
That’s because my roommate Chelsea and I spent all day Sunday moving into our new apartment. It took us three trucks, two cars and one SUV, and two of the trucks had to make a second trip. We had a lot of help from our wonderful friends and family, so the process of actually transporting everything went pretty quickly and pretty smoothly. There was, however, one minor casualty: Chelsea’s desk bit the dust in a nasty cornering incident. Our new place is a circa-1900 duplex with narrow stairways and even tighter turns. I think that they must have just built the furniture in the rooms way back when.
Of course, after everything was in the new house we faced the monumental task of reorganizing all of it; provided we could find it, of course. Chelsea and I knew which of our boxes we had packed, and what was in each box; but the darling people helping us didn’t, so kitchen boxes ended up in the living room, bathroom boxes were in bedrooms, bedroom boxes were in the kitchen, etc. Then there were the inevitable organizational tiffs about how best to arrange the furniture and the cabinets. After many, many frenzied hours failing to prioritize, Chelsea and I went to Walmart to try and pick up some miscellaneous things we needed, like Command hanging strips and extension cords and things of that nature. This was a bad idea. We ended up getting the wrong things because we went to Walmart at 10:00 at night and we were so tired we could hardly walk.
I don’t work Mondays, so I spent yesterday running around town trying to find more necessary housewares and things. When I wasn’t doing that, I was unpacking, curling into a little ball on my bed, unpacking, fighting with absurdly placed shelves in my closet, and more unpacking.
It’s amazing how much stuff a person can accumulate in a year. When I graduated from college a year ago, I could fit all my non-furniture belongings into my Hyundai Elantra; PLUS some small shelving. This year, not so much.
The bulk of my stuff came down to two things: clothes, and books. The books are obviously self-explanatory. My library is my pride and joy, and I don’t care how many people tout e-books to me. I am a collector and few things thrill me more than to see my collection growing, even if it means I have to buy another bookshelf soon. It fills me with a sense of accomplishment to see my wall of books, and the great thing about books is that you don’t need any kind of wireless signal or cord to enjoy them, which is useful when your internet provider takes four days to transfer your service to your new apartment.
The fact that I have so many clothes shocked me for a minute. I like to shop and I buy fairly regularly, but I also cull my wardrobe often and make frequent donation runs to my local Goodwill. I’ve always kept my closet fairly trim. The past few months, however, it’s been getting fatter by the slightest increments.
The reason for this is my job. When I was in college and immediately post-grad, I was working in restaurants where I wore a uniform. Later I had a job in a pet shop that didn’t require a uniform, so I could just wear my own casual clothes. Now, however, I work in an optometrist’s office. Our dress code is not very fancy by any means, but I still need blouses instead of shirts, slacks instead of jeans, nice knee-length skirts, cardigans, etc. etc. Since I started here in January, my clothing purchases have been almost exclusively office wear. So now I effectively have two wardrobes: office and casual.
This, more than almost anything else, made me realize that I am a grown-up now.
It might sound silly. It is. I admit it. I don’t know why it seems so significant. I guess it comes down to self-presentation. In my casual wardrobe, I veer towards a strange combination of edgy bohemia. It’s been very fun for me to class that up (not that it wasn’t classy before…) for work. I can tell you it’s definitely taken a vintage turn. I am all about the skirts and the little black pumps. This may also be due to my recent discovery of Mad Men.
I guess the best way to explain the sense of adulthood it gives me is to say that when I dress for work, I don’t feel like I’m dressing up or putting on a costume. In college when I went business casual it never felt quite right. It was at odds with the very relaxed style I had then. Now, it’s not that my casual style is less relaxed; it’s more like I’ve got a better sense of how I fit into the office scene. It also helps that my boss encourages me to be be fashionable, because as someone who is helping you choose your next pair of glasses, I want you to trust that I will keep you chic. So I get to inject a lot of my own style into my work wardrobe.
And that’s really the way things should be. It gives me a sense of visibility in my job, which was the exact opposite of a uniformed job. I am Caitlin, and I am an optician, and I wear pencil skirts to work.