Remember the first time you experienced something and you got that “high” from it? That incredible adrenaline rush?
The first buzz, the first kiss, the first stealing your parents car in the night and getting away with it?
Okay, maybe only I did that. Mom, I’m still sorry.
Well, being that I have an addictive personality I have chased after many firsts hoping to get that same initial “oh my god, this is awesome” feeling again only to realize after puking in an alley from getting drunk, kissing the very wrong guy, and getting into a fender-bender that they’re called firsts for a reason.
Never, ever, EVER is anything as fantastic as that “first.” But, if we loved the feeling… we’ll try and capture it again and again no matter how long it takes.
I experienced this recently. Of course, now that I’m a Mom my idea of a great rush has changed dramatically.
It’s not about breaking curfew, getting drunk on Peppermint Schnapps’s at an Oingo Boingo concert or making out at the top of Mulholland Drive in a car that neither of us had a valid license to be driving.
The high I was after this time was all about one new, glorious, uncharted experience… taking a bag of clothing to the We Buy Used Clothing shop in Studio City.
As you all know my financial struggles have been, well, catastrophic. I’ve left agents, I’ve announced quitting my career, I’ve put a resume together for the first time in 20 years, and I have sought out any and all job leads.
I’m here to tell ya that this mama is very much gainfully unemployed.
Now, in the past when I had clothes to give away I always dropped them off at Goodwill, gave them to women shelters, or, when I’ve been able to afford having my home cleaned, I’ve passed them along to housekeepers.
But, these days I see possible pocket money in everything—jewelry, cd’s, and, yes, clothes.
So, for the first time, I decided to drive down Ventura Boulevard and hit up that shop where I had always noticed the prominently-displayed sign in the window saying, We Buy and Sell Used Clothes.
I found a parking place in front, filled up the meter, and grabbed my booty from the back. It was all going so smoothly.
I entered, Black Eyed Peas were playing on the sound system, and off I headed to the long counter where two young gals were standing.
Hi. I have some clothes to sell… I said, innocently.
She grabbed the sign-in chart and handed it to me.
This your first time selling with us?
Yep. First time. I’ve never done this. I mean, I usually just give it away, but, ya know, I thought why not see if I can make a few bucks. Mama’s got summer camp to think about.
Clearly, the kind girl could care less about why I was there or what stresses I had on my plate. She dumped my bag on the counter and started going through my items.
It’s strange watching someone you’ve never met suddenly examine your clothes like a detective. Kinda makes you feel vulnerable. I mean, did she think I was a lousy dresser? Tacky? Smelly? Shaped funny?
She studied each item, spreading them out, looking for rips, stains, loose threads. I watched, wondering… had I been a bad clothing owner?
And then, out came the calculator, and click, click, click, my items were being tagged and priced. It was awesome! She liked the jeans, the skirts, the blouses, even a purse. She tallied up the figures, and offered me my part in either cash or store credit.
I received my 40 bucks, and skipped on out. Oh, yeah, mama’s gonna make Hannah a yummy dinner tonight.
I went home and thought, what else don’t I wear? Hell, what do I wear but I can get rid of? I dipped into every nook and cranny and grabbed at items.
And then, I had a brilliant idea. Why not ask my friends for their used clothing? I mean, this is no time for pride, no time for ego, this is time for raking in the dough!
I sent an email to friends and family saying that I would gladly take off their hands any used clothing that they no longer wanted.
If you’re doing a spring cleaning—I’m your Goodwill, your shelter, your housekeeper.
I could hear the sound of calculators clicking now. Hell, maybe this could be a new career!
The emails started coming in, Hey, Susan, I have a few bags to give you. Come and get it!
It was so cool. I hopped in the car and made my journey to people’s homes where they kindly left their bags out front for me to pick up.
My trunk was full and I was feeling the rush. Used Clothing shop, here I come!
And then… the buzz slowly started to get tweaked.
For starters, I had to circle around and around until I finally found a parking spot a few blocks away. I didn’t have change so I had to use a credit card to fill the meter.
I started to take out the bags but they kept tearing, clothes spilling out as I dragged them up the block to the shop.
I headed inside. Taylor Swift was playing on the sound system and the girl behind the counter was NOT the one I had met the first time.
I headed over, dragging my bags like dead bodies across the floor.
And there, on the bench, were a sea of other people with their bags. Waiting. I signed-in and took my seat at the end of the bench.
I looked at the other people who were there to sell their loot. They all looked 20 years younger than me. They were busy texting on their iPhones while tuning out Taylor Swift with their iPods.
I was i-less.
An hour later it was finally my turn. I had to rush outside to fill up the meter again, swiping my credit card.
Back inside the girl with her hair in a bun and long earrings started going through my bags.
Barely looking at the items, and chatting with her friend behind the counter, one by one she tossed my goods to the side in the “Pass” pile.
I watched in shock, bag after bag emptied and then filled again.
Yo, where’s the calculator? Where’s the click click? What the hell is wrong with that dress? That’s an awesome friggin’ dress! What the hell is going on?!
My mind was spinning— this was bad trip indeed.
After the last bag was dumped and then refilled she looked at me.
Is that all you have?
She pushed the bags toward me, grabbed the sign-in sheet and called out the next name, “Simon?!”
I stood aside, slowly gathering my bags as I watched Simon, a Justin Bieber look-alike, place his three items on the counter. She grabbed the calculator and clicked away.
Simon scored a sweet $60 bucks.
I didn’t make a dime. In fact, I lost money. Three bucks on meters, and about $20 on gas making the rounds to people’s homes. And now I had a car filled with used clothing to get rid of.
I got in my car and I cried. I admit it. I cried over everything—my life, my shame, my exhaustion.
I went to pick up Hannah from school. She jumped in the car and saw all the bags. Peeking out of the top of one of them was a purse my mom donated to me to sell. It was black and gold and shiny.
Hannah took it out, beaming, Mommy, this is so pretty. Can I have it?
I looked at her, loving this girl more than words can ever say, and smiled,
You certainly can, baby. You certainly can.
One high that never ever gets old or fades or disappoints is the joy in my daughter’s eyes.
I’ll stick to chasing that.