A day before my Feldenkrais training resumed in Santa Fe, I drove to a shopping center to buy a notebook and get my hair trimmed. On the way out, I passed a Ross (Dress for Less) Store. It’s not a place I usually visit, but since it was right there and I had time, I wandered in. Perhaps I’d find a layering piece for the training for when temperatures dipped in the room. Within a few minutes I spotted a super fuzzy white fleece zippered hoody for $14. I tried it on over a short sleeve shirt. The fabric felt snug and delicious, yet the fit was unflattering. Moreover, it didn’t look as if it would survive many wash cycles. But, might I enjoy it while it lasted?
The spiritual ping-pong match began almost immediately in my mind. On one side of the net, Expediency and The Cheapskate had teamed up to play against Quality and Value.
“It’s such a low price,” cooed The Cheapskate, as if whispering a sweet nothing in my ear.
“Besides, you don’t need to wear it in public, just in your training,” said Expediency as he slammed the ball across the net.
“You’ll regret wearing it. You’ll wish you had bought something that makes you look and feel great,” whispered Quality.
“A low price is not always a good deal,” said Value, hitting the ball to the other side.
I’ve often been seduced by an item’s price, only to fill my closet with opportunistic purchases I don’t love. It’s a longstanding habit I’m trying to change.
“Buy it, keep the tag on and wear it around the house before making a final decision,” said Expediency, always eager to get on with things. It knows that when I’m tired, and in this case, also disoriented by Santa Fe’s slightly higher altitude, I’m more likely to heed such a seemingly reasonable statement.
Perhaps because it was the eve of my training, I had that back-to-school feeling and my inner child wanted a new item of clothing. That the fleece was so cuddly made it hard to resist. I bought it and subsequently felt a twinge of disappointment that I had let Expediency and The Cheapskate win the ping-pong match this time around.
A few days later, I wore the fleece over my sleeveless pajama top while meditating in the chill of a Santa Fe morning. After breakfast, still wearing it, I noticed I felt unusually warm, if not hot. Had I left the oven or the stove on? I checked the dials. I hadn’t.
I went to the bathroom to wash my face. Looking in the mirror, I noticed my cheeks and nose looked sunburned. I unzipped the hoody, pushed up the sleeves, and checked the rest of my upper body. Scarlet splotches covered my armpits and elbows. They were hot to the touch, as were my cheeks.
What the hell?! Was I allergic to something I had just eaten? Since my diet is healthier and fresher than ever, I didn’t think that was it, not to mention that I have only one known allergy, to the medicine Bactrim, which once caused a bumpy rash to erupt on my chest. I whipped out my thermometer and took my temperature. Normal.
Was it the garment, or some bizarre biblical-style plague that was being visited upon me? I removed the hoody and flung it aside as if it were on fire. I waited several minutes to see if the reddening would fade. Would I have to miss the morning sessions of my training to visit the emergency room, for the second time in less than two months? (thanks, Panic, for necessitating my first American ER visit). Seeking and receiving emergency medical attention was not a new habit I wanted to be developing. That my body was going berserk in frightening and unfamiliar ways within a short span was not lost on me. Clearly, it is trying to get my attention. Within 15 minutes of taking off the fleece, the red patches began to fade.
“Thou shalt not dress me in junk, again,” warned my skin, the exterior of the temple that is my body. “Thou shalt pay the price for rash purchases, for being cheap.”
I put the hoody, tag still on, into the store’s bag and returned it that afternoon. Since I have no interest in experiencing further physiological freak outs, I am going to move even more slowly and listen more carefully. Luckily, in my Feldenkrais training, I’m spending hours a day practicing exactly that.