My dear friend 苏菲, I miss shopping with you.  

Friends have known me to be quite the shopaholic.  My brother once said to me, “You shop til drop.”

Yes, I’m enchanted by the patterns, colors, fabrics, textures, silhouettes and the ability to express oneself via garments.  But there’s a deeper meaning to the process of shopping that I love so much. 

I met my shopaholic match in my friend Sophia.  By match, I mean that we both love a good bargain, enjoy the mere idea of even just going shopping and when that treasure has been located, there is a certain level of happiness and adrenaline that is parallel to none.

Numerous bus trips to Woodbury Mall by use of a great Groupon discount, fun excursions to scour the city’s nooks and crannies of sample sales, expeditions from the city to Flushing to explore not only the malls but also the tiny local specialty shops and more, we’ve discovered so many fun things along the way that have become great mementos.

Recently, we have both undergone a hiatus in our typical shopping patterns.  Opting to pare down our items, reducing clutter and thinking about necessity has been something we’ve both fallen into simultaneously.  And with the current COVID-19 situation, the new behavior has been reinforced even more due to the circumstances.

Though we haven’t shopped together in a long time now, I’ve realized that our shopping meant so much more to me than the accumulation of material objects.  

It’s the shared experience of traveling via bus, on foot, by subway.  It’s knowing the exact spot on the platform of the 7 train in Grand Central, our meetup spot before heading out to Queens.  It’s the stories we’ve shared, the support we’ve mutually offered.  It’s the times seeking out and searching out the city’s best sales where we’d learn about each other’s preferences and suddenly could pick out things for one another because we had come to know each other that well.  

Our shopping excursions have developed into the sharing of a delicious meal followed by three desserts because we couldn’t just choose one, to the laughter of both carrying a polka-dot umbrella and Longchamp bag, albeit in different color palettes, of course, on a rainy NYC day to brunch.  

It’s the knowledge and understanding that we would need to choose the seat with more legroom on the bus back to Manhattan for adequate storage of bags due to both of our tendencies to go crazy at the outlets.  It’s hearing the excitement in each other’s voices over the arrival to the lunch table of 烧卖 and dumplings followed by a subsequent trip for bubble tea though we were already too stuffed.  

Shopping, you see, was the initial obsession and initial interest that brought our friendship together.  And by virtue of the surrounding activities, shared time together and discoveries around food, family, friendship and just life in general, it’s created a friendship that I see as a treasure.  

I miss shopping with you, my friend.  But I miss you more.

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