The other day at the grocery store I was accused of not paying for my sandwich. After checking out I walked through the store and headed outside to eat. A woman came over and stood next to me and then after an awkward moment of silence she asked if I had paid for the food. I said yes. She said that she had seen me come outside, but she hadn’t seen me go through the registers. Did I have a receipt? I hadn’t asked for a receipt. I told her which clerk had checked me out, and she went inside to confirm, and it was fine, and I could have gotten upset, but I understand how appearance influences perception, and the bottom line was that with my ripped clothing and unkempt dreadlocks, I looked like the kind of person who might steal from a grocery store.
The way I’ve been looking is now incongruous with the kind of life I am currently trying to lead. So I decided to buy some new clothes. I haven’t done that in at least three years. Just thinking about walking into a clothing store actually made me really uncomfortable, and I realized that this is yet another unexpected way in which I’m being pushed to grow as I go through this transition. The way I dress has actually been an unspoken insecurity for a long time. I was in 7th grade when I stopped wearing what my parents bought me and started dressing the way everyone else in middle school did. I always felt like I was doing something wrong. I wore only grays and dark blues because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.
I set out on the mission armed with a sketch inside the back cover of my notebook mapping out the thrift stores of Boulder. My first stop was Rags Consignment. I walked in and awkwardly pawed through a couple racks of hangers. I didn’t even know what I was supposed to be looking for. A girl walked up to me. “Can I help you find anything?” “Um…jeans?” “Well, actually, this is a women’s only store.” “Ah. I see. Well do you think I could rock women’s jeans? Just kidding. I am leaving now.” Next, at a complex on the corner, I saw a sign for Wild Bird Depot or something like that. There was an X on my map at that intersection, and I was pretty sure that was the name of one of the thrift stores. I peeked inside and immediately realized that this was a bird seed store. Ok.
Eventually I ended up at a real thrift store with both women’s and men’s clothing. I started pulling things off of hangers randomly. I didn’t even know what size I was. I tried some things on and once I found a pair of unripped jeans that fit me, I felt a little more at ease knowing that I would be buying something. I stayed for probably an hour and ended up buying a few collared shirts, a sweater, a jacket, a black vest, a gray fedora. Nothing was more than like $12 but I spent a total of $93 which is more than I have spent on apparel over the past three years of my life combined. I got in my car with a shopping bag and drove away to an empty parking lot and put on some of the new clothes. It was weird but I looked good.