target has ruined me

I adore Target. I’ve been enchanted with it since college when I would make pilgrimages from Charlottesville to Richmond and walk out of the super chain with no less than $250 worth of clothes, books, music, cards, toilet paper, beauty products, shoes, purses…. I felt like I had to stock up because who knew when I’d be back in town. And I’d get compliments on the clothes I chose from Target. Girls would swoon and I’d immediately say, “I know, I got it at Target,” with a look of surprise on my face. And they would respond in kind, “No way.” Way.

Now that I live in Richmond and there are a total of 5 Target stores that I could frequent on any given day, I don’t. And when I do go, I can as easily walk out with nothing or with 3 pairs of Isaac Mizrahi shoes. It’s bargain shopping with style. They even have trendy bamboo plants for lord’s sake.

But Target has ruined me in love too because I don’t want to waste my time with high priced mediocrity. There is no reason why I shouldn’t want to Expect More, Pay Less in my life, in my love. Because I deserve that.

We all have out limits, our cutoffs for what you will and will not put up with. It’s our shopping lists of things to buy, or things to love. And we’ve written and edited and re-edited this list with every relationship we’ve ever known. Idioms and idiosyncrasies have been passed down from generation to generation, from friend to friend, from lover to lover. In the end of these relationships, these exchanges of self, we decide, “I want this. I don’t want that.” Our shopping list is culled from avenues and backstreets and backseats and rearview mirrors. We know our direction, we know our position, yet we’re waiting for and eyeing the motorcycle that zooms past, shifting us a little out of our lane. Because in reality, the shopping list is an excuse, a reason we give ourselves for kismet not working, for the stars not aligning, for having to pay full price and not being happy with the purchase.

I have this fairytale notion that when the ONE comes along, time will sort of stop, that every item will be on sale. I hope that nothing else will be as important as making it work, that you will move to the top of each other’s priority lists. I don’t expect angels to swoop down and choirs to appear, I just expect honesty and openness. And I expect this because this is my currency as well.

A friend recently said, “I can’t wait for the man who says, ‘I can’t believe I’m the one that gets to love you.’” I’ve said the same thing in my head a million times. In high school I remember walking around my kitchen one particular day, potholder in hand (probably baking), thinking about what the man I would marry would be doing at that exact moment. I don’t have those thoughts anymore. Maybe it’s because I’ve become cynical. Maybe it’s because I’ve become a realist.

While I don’t think about what a fictitious man could be doing at this exact moment, I do think about the possibility of him. And I do hope and imagine that he says, “I can’t believe I’m the one that gets to love you.” Because if he does exist, if it’s in the cards for me then it better be a good love.

It is a wistful, fairytale hope, a Little Mermaid or Cinderella story and I know it’s sold on the shelf alongside books and movies about monsters and criminals, but it’s not so ridiculous. Because as much as women want to be a little worshipped and absolutely adored, we want to do the same in return. And I say to my friend, “I can’t wait for the man whom I say to, ‘I can’t believe I’m the one that gets to love you.’” Because I am Expecting More and I plan to Pay Less. It’s what I deserve. And it’s what you deserve too.

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