I do not impulse-buy. I look and look and then I walk away and wait for something to stick with me. If it remains a presence in my mind after an hour, I run back to get it.
There’s an exception to this. Travel. I like to buy something symbolizing my first visit to a city. Mom took me to Paris for my first time and we had the idea to find one object for each of us. Mine was a luscious pair of Bruno Frisoni shoes made of black ribbons. We had a hard time finding hers, but then we both realized it was a wooden ring we had seen at the Vintage jewelry shop Karry’O. But in the last hour before the shops closed the evening before our early departure flight, we couldn’t get there in time. We thought we’d just call and have it shipped. The shop wouldn’t take credit cards over the phone, anyway they wouldn’t ship, and they hung up on my mother’s French.
That was early 2006. Over the next year, I begged European friends to stop by the shop and try to find the ring, but no one managed.
A few months later I was in Beirut To be polite to a friend doing her duty to separate tourists from their money for the good of the local economy, I had gone jewelry shopping and just happened to find the most beautiful ring ever made. A few months after my trip Israel bombed the Café where I had first met the Mediterranean.
In 2010 I was in Paris again, and made my way to Karry’O, sheepishly asking after stock from 4 years before. “No, we don’t have anything like that.” I persisted. “Do you have any wooden rings?” She turned and pulled open a drawer of the flatfile behind her.
“There it is.”
I handed her my credit card, heedless of the price. While she wrote the invoice by hand, I glanced furtively around a shop I barely felt that I deserved to step foot in. My eye landed on an impossibly deep gold necklace which seemed to be the most beautiful thing in the shop. Surely a vintage piece like that would cost more than €10K, but as a customer, I felt entitled to try it on. We both gasped. She said “that looks like you were born wearing it.” Hesitantly, I asked the price and she started leafing through a big book. It was electroplate, and hence affordable.
I was newly separated from my partner, my career, and any forseeable source of income. I spent the last of my money on this necklace. But I was not going to make the same mistake twice in the same shop.