It doesn’t seem like Pier 1 would be a good refuge for someone in the maelstrom of an identity crisis, especially if accompanied by a three year old. However, it worked for me.
I had taken my daughter to school on the city bus and was feeling urban and self-congratulatory about my “green” decision to save fossil fuels and expose my child to public transportation.
It’s possible I had a spring in my step.
We were almost at school when we ran into a former colleague from my law firm days. Hellos and genuine embraces were exchanged. I hadn’t seen her in years. She looked the same– bright eyes, J.Crew outfit, and rosy cheeks of the 100% Irish.
I could have gotten over her stylish appearance and characteristic high-energy level.
Then, when we exchanged updates. I learned that she is working full-time, raising her two young children, serving on the board of a prestigious legal foundation that helps underprivileged women, and traveling to Laos for vacation with her husband.
It’s not that I felt like I had to match her resume, because I can’t. But bells of insecurity began ringing before we parted paths on the sidewalk. And because we were still 10 minutes early for school, I made a snap decision to step into Pier 1 to collect myself before facing the cheery swarm of preschool moms.
That anxious, I-might-cry-feeling was percolating when I stepped inside and felt assaulted by the pumpkin spice candles and the Halloween decorations. Where can I cower in this store without Sadie breaking seasonal inventory?
“Sadie, follow me. Let’s go look at the sparkly pillows!” I forced a jocular tone in my voice, hoping she’d be willing to turn her back on the bedazzling skeletons and ceramic bats.
Gamely, she skipped ahead of me and plopped herself into that iconic Pier 1 staple, the papasan cair. Good, she’s contained, and now I need to contain myself.
I considered explaining to Sadie what was happening, but I couldn’t think of an age-appropriate way to describe “losing my shit because I am comparing myself to someone extraordinary.” I took a seat on the other papasan chair and took a deep breath.
I was strangling myself with questions like: what the hell am I doing with my life? Why am I not working full-time and serving on a Board? Am I lazy? OH MY GOD I AM LAZY.
This would have been a fine place for me to have a good soul-searching but for the glittery palm fronds and four-foot Eiffel Tower replicas for my three year old to scale. I steered her away, but then she nimbly fled to the picture frame section, where hundreds of frames lined up like they were awaiting the fire squad.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the Pier 1 employee who was stacking harvest-themed flatware keeping tabs on my poorly-supervised child.
You really don’t have time or space for this right now. BUCK UP.
I gave myself the tenderest pep talk in my repertoire.
For once, it helped.
I owed it to Pier 1 patrons and Sadie to wrangle her away from the breakables and postpone my cry. I saw the strange brilliance of Pier 1 as a place to have an existential crisis– there’s far too much shit in there to spend excessive time bemoaning my decision to step away from full-time legal work. With all those fragile consumer items, I simply had to get over myself and put my regrets on the back burner, which is exactly where they belong.