I'm talking about the First Big Purchase. For some it may have been a Louis Vuitton handbag; for others, simply an item of clothing that was bought at full price from a chain store. A First Big Purchase is not characterized just by its expense; more importantly, it symbolizes the crossing of a mental threshold. Perhaps you believe that you have "made it" or are "worth it". Or maybe you're the superstitious type and place your faith in a certain article's trasformational powers — if you buy it, they will come...
My first time took place in San Francisco in the early 1990s. I was fresh out of college and looking to start a career as a television news reporter. The job I had at the time — assistant to the assistant of paper printing and videotape rewinding — didn't pay much, but I really
It was in the window of a Bebe store on Fillmore Street (before Bebe became a ubiquitous mall fixture, specializing in the type of clothing that could only be worn to a nightclub.) My First Big Purchase was a wool gabardine blazer the color of cranberries. Double breasted, with covered buttons and peaked lapels, the jacket was cut with shapely princess seams back and front. I had to have it.
Back in those days, it was unthinkable to take a purchase home at first sight. Instead, I made excuses to walk past the storefront, going to a certain coffeeshop while there were five others closer to my apartment. One day, I mustered the courage to walk into the store and try it on. The blazer fit like it was made for me. Yet, I hung it back on the rack.
As much as I tried to put the red blazer out of my mind, it was all I could think about. In my daydreams, I schemed of ways to stretch my budget to make it mine: eating ramen every night, avoiding buying gas, and making no other purchases for months. At the end of that summer, it was time to make my resume tape, a video of myself announcing a mock-newscast that would be sent out to hundreds of prospective employers around the country. That red blazer would complete the package.
Giddy, nervous, excited, hopeful, scared... those were just some of the emotions in my heart as I handed over my credit card to the clerk. The price tag: $198.00.
That red blazer was my go-to job interview outfit, and I continued to wear it weekly for years. Although it is probably a bit dated now, the red blazer is still hanging in my closet, a symbol of who I was and who I hoped to be.
Did you have a First Big Purchase? Or am I overthinking a piece of fabric?