Which label shall I wear today?...
I was flicking through a yellow press publication on the train the other day, when I came across an article about Adult Orphan syndrome.
Ever since daddy passed away I have been repeatedly reminded of my new ‘label’ by various people, who evidently took it upon themselves as a duty to point out the obvious.
The article was worthy of its ‘yellow press’ origins. Having stretched for half a page, it was a piece of writing about nothing, just a painful reminder to me. But annoyingly it stuck with me for days.
Later that week I was card shopping. I needed to pick up a Valentine’s card for Mr Chateauneuf and a couple of birthday cards for family members.
I take card shopping very seriously. A card means something, it says so much about what you think about the person.
So selecting a Valentine’s card for Mr Chateauneuf was no small challenge for me. It required maximum concentration, the right frame of mind (i.e. not immediately after a fight with the man in question) and an enormous card store to shop in - the bigger the better.
To my utter pleasure and delight, Clintons on Cheapside take Valentine’s day seriously and their cards selection splashed out on the whole wall, taking up a whopping 1/4 of the shop. I was in cards heaven.
As I started browsing the love selection, I quickly worked out that the cards were divided into categories of ‘Husband’, ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘Fiance’. There were, of course, other ones, like ‘to my Valentine’ or ‘to the one I love’. For the first time in my professional card shopping career, I got lost.
I didn't want to get a ‘Boyfriend’ card as it somehow felt tacky and year 7. Other generic ones seemed just too… well, generic. They were sitting there on their shelves, mocking me, challenging me. None of them felt right. In a 1000 sq ft Clintons shop I couldn’t find a card.
I left the store without a purchase and decided to clear my head. Suddenly it felt like the whole world wanted to define me, to give me a label - girlfriend, stepmom, adult orphan…
I couldn't help but wonder, why do we strive for a definition? And if the definition is so important, then who really benefits from it?
I headed for the one place that I knew would cheer me up - L.K. Bennett shoe store. Shoes don’t want to define me, they don't care who I am and what I’m worth. They are simply pretty things that want to be worn. And in return they make me feel taller, slimmer and better; they are real friends.
As I slipped on a new season fern printed leather pair of courts, I felt like my old self again. It dawned on me that it didn't matter what they wanted to call me, it was all about what I thought about myself.
Yes, to the outside world I am a stepmom, a girlfriend, and an adult orphan. But to me, I am a woman who loves, works, writes, shops, has dreams and a mild addiction to laundry products; who doesn't drink ordinary tea but Lady Grey and who is proud of her roots.
I left the store with a new pair of shoes, an upset credit card and a big smile on my face. There was only one thing left to do. I walked into Clintons and picked up a card. It not longer mattered how they labeled it. It was Valentine’s day and I had another excuse to tell Mr Chateauneuf that I loved him. And had a girlfriend, who is fabulous.