It's all in how you look at it
I went shopping recently with a friend for a card for my mom for Mother’s Day. Julie went with me to find a special card for my mom. We had so much fun going here there and everywhere in Target. We found the perfect card and small gift and a few bits and bobs for ourselves. This trip reminded me of a shopping trip I took one weekend with two different friends
Let the shopping begin
I went shopping with two different friends on two different days. The experiences were totally different and not what I expected even though we were shopping, my favorite pastime. I have known Julie and Tatiana for about the same amount of time. We have a lot in common individually but Julie and Tatiana are very different and don’t know each other. I expected that my shopping adventures with these two friends would be the same and tons of fun. After all, I was going shopping on both Friday and Saturday with different friends but it was shopping all the same. Instead of being the same, I learned that the person you are with guides the experience, not the experience itself.
Finding a lamp
On Friday, I went to Ikea with Julie. We were on a mission to find a lamp for her new room. Julie had never been to Ikea and it was one of my favorite places to shop. We decided to get some food first so we had the energy to shop til we dropped, Swedish meatballs and lively conversations. Julie helped me guide my chair around the multiple rooms of displayed furniture. We imagined ourselves in each of the different rooms. We chatted about what we each wanted for the future, a place of our own to call home. We laughed and talked throughout the entire store. “Hey look at this,” she pulled things off the shelves as we would try to figure out what they were for.
Target here we come
We finally got to the lamp department. What a disappointment, each lamp was individually priced, $30 for the base and $30 for the shade. Really? Are you kidding me; $60 for a lamp made out of plastic. That was more than she wanted to spend. Here’s an idea, let's go to the Christmas Tree Shop, they have lamps. Strike two, no lamps, now what? We came across some silly turkey hats. We put them on and briefly thought about getting them for Thanksgiving dinner but changed our minds. Shopping, just like I love. Since we couldn't find a lamp at either Ikea or The Christmas Tree Shop, we decided to go to Target.
I love Target, you can find anything there. At Target we found exactly what Julie was looking for in the clearance aisle, no less. Why didn’t we come here in the first place? It didn’t matter we were having a blast touching, feeling, taking pictures and just being girlfriends. I did not want the evening to end, but it was getting late and Julie had things to get done. Before we dropped her off we stopped at Dunkin Donuts and got Dunkaccinos. This was before my Starbucks addiction.
On Saturday I was very excited about another adventure shopping with Tatiana. I had never been shopping with another friend in a wheelchair, she is my only friend in a chair. How different could it be? We have lots of things in common, we had fun at camp every year and had both just started at the same college. As it turned out it was very different and not at all what I expected. Tatiana rolled up in her wheelchair. We were both excited to finally be hanging out and we both loved shopping.
We started at Target, our favorite store. We headed to the purses first, after all, they call me the bag lady what better place to start? Tatiana said she loved bags, but she didn’t look at a single one. We talked about classes in the aisle until it became obvious we needed to go to a new location, on to clothes! We talked about what she liked and didn’t like. She likes to get things without trying them on, just like my Aunt Candi; me, though, I gotta try it on. Once we were in the clothes aisle, things started to not be fun. We weren’t shopping, we were just there. Every time I showed her something, she says, “Oh that’s nice”.
Girls have got to eat
When I tried to look at other things, she became concerned that I didn’t want to talk to her. What’s up with that, I thought we were here to shop and have fun. She did need lipgloss, great I thought makeup! Finally, shopping, having fun, two girlfriends looking at makeup. We selected a bold purple and mild pink color. After we paid for our purchases we decided to eat. Red Robin, here we come. Tatiana had never been to Red Robin. I told her she was in for a treat, endless fries; can’t beat them. The waiter greeted Tatiana with an exuberant hug, turns out he is a friend of hers from college. We both decided he was cute but I found out he likes boys better. As soon as our food came, the conversation stopped. Weird. We were never at a loss for conversation in the hallways on campus.
There was so much I wanted to talk about, why was this so hard? We rolled away from lunch to continue our shopping adventure. I was beginning to feel out of place, that everyone was staring at us, two friends in wheelchairs shopping. Our final stop was JC Penney, one of my favorite stores. The jewelry counter was finally something we could buy! We chose matching earrings to remember our shopping experience. We were finally having fun, shopping, touching, and feeling; when her dad called and said he was waiting for her. Our adventure was over.
Same but different
I thought that shopping with girlfriends would be the same. After all, how different could this be, Julie and Tatiana are my friends and we all love shopping. Looking back, I realize that it was not the shopping that was different, it was me. When I was with Julie, I felt so comfortable, like a warm blanket on a cold winter night; but with Tatiana, I felt out of place, like I wasn’t myself, uncomfortable. I thought that everyone was looking at us, two friends both in wheelchairs and judging us, that we looked so weird and somehow abnormal. When really it was quite normal and what people expect. They expect that you hang out with people like you, not those that are so different from you.
Wanna go to Target?
What I now realize is that people look at me with my other friends too and judge us as abnormal but for a very different reason. I have always seen us as "normal". I have always had friends who are not challenged the way I am. People think they are with me because they have to be, it would be abnormal for them to want to be with me. This is further from the truth. I have the best time with my friends that know me, love me, and support me. Next time I am going to worry less about what I think other people see and just be me. Who wants to go shopping with me? I'll meet you at Target!
Video of Lisa and I being silly at Target. We are trying on sunglasses and hats during Covid Restrictions.
Thank you for reading until the end!
This is the view from my wheelchair, where miracles can make a difference. Always Strive for the Impossible. Come back next week to see what is on my mind and hear more about my experiences and The View From My Wheelchair.