In one scenario at The Bay, I came face to face with a hardened and bitter old lady who at first glace at me, decided to lash about the inconsistency of the signs sprawled around in the department. For some reason, she thought, there should be arrows pointing to each department to make life easier and help locate items faster. Yes, I thought, because this is some sort of runway for planes. I could clearly see she was bothered at this trivial thing and apologized on behalf of...well the entire company (working in retail gives you that right. It's called excellent customer service). But I guess my apology wasn't good enough as she went on and on to complain about pretty much everything about her life. What started off as small talk turned into a full on lecture about how I disgraced my grandparents because I didn't learn the languages of my country (having grown up with a Filipino mother and a Spanish father it was mostly best to just use English or else I'd end up with something like "mucho salamat"). I couldn't stand it, she was just so bitter and so angry about everything. And of course, being the loyal and mannerly associate of The Bay, I just took her thrashing in hopes that at one point I could slip in the fact that the bathroom mats she was looking for were thhhaaaaat way. Then finally after 10 torturous minutes she took off and made her way down the aisle I directed her to (I actually had no ideas where the bath mats were but I figured I could hide in the change room for 10 minutes in case she came back to complain).
Luckily for me, however, I didn't have to do that. Soon after having such a horrendous experience with that lady, a pleasant older (probably not as old as the one I just serviced since she claimed she was in school in the 1920's...dear lord) woman stopped me and asked me for some help. She was so sweet and explained that she was having a bad day and thought shopping would be some sort of excellent emotional therapy. She even claimed in was better than...well uh...she never finished her sentence, but I assumed she meant chocolate. Yes it must have been chocolate. Anyways she then went on to tell me how she recently just got into designing and making her own clothes and excitedly drew all her vintage finds from within her bag. Okay, so they weren't the galaxy studded shorts on Queen street but they were all unique and beautiful in their own way. And she was so proud of her finds, I couldn't help but smile. The rest of the conversation, however, is what really inspired me to write this post. The woman told me that until now (being 60) she never felt that she had the confidence to wear anything beautiful. She didn't like the attention before as a young woman, but now, she said "I can wear whatever I want without having to feel self-conscious." At first I didn't know what to make of this. Shouldn't women should be able to wear what they want without having the fear to be hit on? (I should take my own advice) However, she quickly appeased my curoisty and went on to explain it as a quite liberating experience of age. She told me that at her age, she found dressing up to be empowering and fun. She confidently told me stories about having one too many drinks at several local bars, even slipping in the words "beer goggles" and "after parties" in her vocabulary. And while I would never want to see my mother do that (double good lord) I couldn't help but appreciate this youthful, energetic, fun loving woman. And that's when I thought, age is just a number. Age does not define us, our attitude and spirit does. I found myself immersed in her stories about her clothing adventures, the suitors she had at one time in her life, her journey for love and sex (yes even that) and got to thinking about the beauty of aging so gracefully. Funny enough, I really look up to this woman. Of course, I would never want to feel only free at the ripe age of 60, but I don't think that's what she meant through her story. To feel confident, young and free at any age, that's the real lesson. To enjoy life and feel confident in your own skin. I most definitely learnt something valuable today. I think being young is beautiful, but to have a youthful heart, well that's the real art of aging.