You. Are. Here.

by Mel Miskimen • Guest Writer { View Profile }

Sixty to eighty percent off! Storewide clearance!!

Two exclamation points? Wow. They must really mean it. Armed with a checking account in the black and the truth that I was no longer a size 10, which rendered the contents of my closet moot, I headed out to a unfamiliar mall for some serious hunting and gathering.

You. Are. Here.

I was a red star between two heavy black lines, next to a conglomeration of color-coded squares attached to a central polyhedron. And just exactly where was I? I used to be right in The Gap, so much so, that I was The Gap. Everything in there screamed, “Mel!” I knew exactly what I wanted, what fit (almost everything) what looked good. Bing. Bang. Boom. Done. But now? At 56? The Gap seems to have widened to a chasm.

I liked to believe that J. Crew was in my neck of the woods, but, sadly, no. Those cashmere sweater sets that looked so good on Michelle Obama, the ones with the ruffle details? On her, fabulous. On me? Wilted lettuce. I scratched off a pencil skirt. How about something in a wide marker?

Victoria’s Secret? Shut. Up.

Forever 21? That train left the station back in 1976, and it ain’t comin’ back.

White House Black Market? I have so much black in my wardrobe, I look like I’m on funereal stand-by.

You. Are. Here.

Right in between old-enough-to-know-better and what-was-I-thinking. Right across the street from if-this-is-a-medium-I’m-screwed and If-only-they-made-a-size-11. Shopping used to be fun. Now? It’s right up there with shoveling snow and that feeling I have when I’m coming down with the flu.

You. Are. Here.

Yeah, sure. But, the question is:  Now that I’m here, where do I want to go? Talbots? Brooks Brothers? Who am I? My mother?

You. Are. Here.

2011. It’s a new year and a time for me to make goals. What are my goals? Do I have any? Well, kind of. I have dreams, wishes. To have a dream, a wish, is a little bit noncommittal and left up to chance – something I want to come true right after I blow out the candles on my birthday cake. Something that I leave up to the Universe to bestow upon me if it deems me worthy, or a good girl, in the case of Santa. And if it doesn’t come true? Well, it wasn’t my fault. It wasn’t meant to be.

But a goal is serious and the responsibility to attain it, rests on my slouching shoulders. And maybe it’s because my goals are not off-the-rack, one-size-fits-all kind that I have a hard time pinning them down, let alone trying to come up with a plan. They’re more in the category of some-assembly-required or batteries-not-included and once attempted, they can and usually do fall victim to operator error.

Like, OK, I’ll throw caution to the wind, here. One of my goals? To be a guest on Oprah. Which is like saying, “I want to be confused with Michelle Pfieffer.” Not. Going. To. Happen. Unless I master the art of mass hypnosis. (Now, there’s a goal.)

Another goal? I am going to write a best-selling book. Check.

It’s in a file on my desktop, where it waits for me to take the brave step of sending it out, which takes a lot of courage, like taking that innocuous looking pair of pants into the fitting room and facing a stripped-down-to-my-underwear-and-socks self in a three-way mirror. Do I want the truth? Only if it’s given by a nice, wonderful sales associate who can tell me what I should do, where I should go, what fits, what doesn’t. Does this manuscript make my butt look big?

You. Are. Here.

Where? On the cusp? On the verge? I’m on the downhill side of 55, heading full steam into my sixth decade, with sort of a clue as to what I want, kind of a plan how to get it, but no idea where I’m going or what I’ll be wearing.

First Published March 16, 2011

Share Your Thoughts!


Nicki OFarrell03.26.2011

Love your story. I'm not quite there yet but I can sometimes relate. Good luck with your book. Send in that manuscript! Not that I can talk. I've been writing off and on for my whole life and I've only just submitted my first article to I think I'm hooked.
Nicki O'Farrell

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