A Little Extra

I spent this morning acting like a New Yorker while in New Jersey.  I snuggled the cats in bed while I sipped on my DIY pumpkin spiced latte, tanned my freshly manicured feet (Let’s be honest, that is all that I am going to reveal this Winter anyway), and stumbled into the local Dry Cleaners in tattered sweatpants to pick up my favorite sweater. Ahhh, welcome home to my favorite sweater!

For anybody who knows me, I am a royal pain in the ass to shop with. Put me in any clothing store - even my favorite - and I will meander around for a good twenty minutes, touching things and contemplating what it is I actually NEED before I even dare to try something on. Like most people, I have my shopping comfort zones. Unlike most people, I am constantly trying to break that zone and wander into something daring and different to reflect my sparkly, chaotic, worldly soul. Or, at least that’s what I tell myself. I usually end up walking away with a single item. Yesterday, I shopped for three yours only to bring home a discounted pair of sparkly Kate Spade earrings which, as you probably guessed it, I paired with my tattered sweatpants this morning.

I remember the day that I purchased that sweater. I was living in California and had just gotten a call back saying that I was selected to become an Advocate for survivors of sexual assault. This meant that I would spend six hours every week supporting men and women in the hours immediately following a sexual assault. It felt so spot-on for me to be the one holding up, talking to, laughing with, and comforting a complete stranger in what could, arguably, be considered one of the most vulnerable moments in their life. My mom gave me her Nordstroms credit card and told me to go get something that fit the “business casual” attire guidelines for the agency. I knew I would be working the overnight shift in a cold building so I figured I would start by finding a sweater - something cozy and comforting. Naturally, I took my sister with me.

My sister is much more sure of herself when she is shopping. She is clear about her image and what she likes but she is a designer so she has an unfair advantage. With her help, I eventually found a long, crocheted, beige sweater. It’s one of those sweaters that doesn’t actually keep you warm because the holes are so big but you throw it over a tank top, call the look hippie-chic, and imagine yourself as a layering goddess. It’s one of those sweaters that does not count as a whole “top” and, really, it forces way more wardrobe planning time than a sweater should require. I twirled around in the poorly-lit dressing room falling in love with this stupid sweater before I even looked at the price tag. Worst. Mistake. Ever. My sister sat in the room with me and explained how important it is to get something you love even if it costs a little extra because you will probably love it for a little extra time and I eventually gave in and purchased it. The budget my mom had set for me was completely blown on this damn sweater.

Fast forward six years and I am across the country picking up that same sweater. I don’t pair it with Uggs and leggings like I used to but it has incorporated itself nicely into my Autumn layers. It reminds me that, when I don’t trust my gut, I should at least trust my sister. In some silly poetic way, it is also the perfect example of how the women in my life help shape me. There are so many little stories like this where a girlfriend of mine has taught me something small but impactful. My morning coffee and to-do list routine is owed to my friend, Lauren, who is one of those insanely productive morning people. My skin care regime is something my friend, Isabel, suggested briefly while using me as a test model for her makeup artist interview. Those Kate Spade earrings I purchased yesterday were actually me just copying my friend, Kristina, who somehow always looks like a million bucks even if she spent the whole night drinking rose. The list goes on and on.

Today, I am living in New Jersey and commute to New York where I am a Case Manager for men and women coming out of our correctional facilities and into their first apartment ever. My clients have a long history of mental health challenges, substance abuse habits, homelessness, and incarceration. They face gigantic hurdles every day and the job is often tiring. There are some days where a client relapses and other days where a client celebrates three years of sobriety. It is an honor to continue to be welcomed into the vulnerable (and often times lonely) corners of a person’s life. I wish that all of my clients had the level of support that I get from the powerful women in my life.

April Hinkle