I read recently that over 1 billion dollars worth of gift cards go unspent each year. Think of all those gift cards hidden in someone’s sock drawer, jewelry box or old purse/wallet or maybe some just expired and got tossed out. Amazing. As I was reading this I suddenly remembered that I had some gift cards found last Spring while packing to move and I went to look for them. And what do you know, they were in my wallet!?! I made a mental note to use them, and soon!
One of the cards was for PIER 1, valued at $20 and given as a gift from a colleague two years ago. After my daughter and I left the Mall yesterday, taking advantage of a special going on at one of her favorite clothing retailers, we picked up some Panda Express at their drive-thru (double orange chicken with chow mein please) I drove over to the nearby PIER 1 and left her in the car to enjoy her lunch while I ran in to find something at or around 20 bucks.
I haven’t been inside a PIER 1 store in several years and was immediately annoyed by a number of too eager male employees reminding me that there was a 30% special going on and could they help me? Back off boys, I have my gift card in hand and just need to find a little something. Well it was harder than I thought. Just like the old shopping proverb, if you have the money in your hand you can’t find a single thing you like or want, it’s only when you can’t afford it and/or don’t have the money with you that you find the things you absolutely must have. Or something like that.
I went weaving through the aisles with my turkey tired brain on sensory overload. It took some time for the creative side to start working and when it did it went something like this, “Maybe this table would be a nice fit in the hallway under that large painting? Maybe this bar stool would work in the kitchen? Maybe this .... OMG, nothing I’m looking at or thinking about is under $200, focus!” I then steered towards the pillows, then the kitchen items, the candles, the picture frames. Still nothing. At this point I thought of my daughter sitting out in my car, alone, patiently waiting for me or maybe not. So I pulled a nice chair cushion from a clearance shelf that I could use and then remembered I saw a nice red holiday oven mitt set and carried them over to the check out counter. And of course there was a line with at least six people standing single-file.
I accidentally struck up a conversation with the woman in front of me. There was a table of knick-knacks by us and we both picked up an item and said simultaneously, “what is this?” We smiled at each other as she commented, “well I guess if we don’t know what it is then we sure as heck don’t need it!” I then mumbled my response, “yes, funny, I used to frequently bring home items from here that I didn’t need.” Then the internal chatter began. Where did that come from? What did that mean? What are these things in your arms you are about to buy...right then an item caught my eye. It had been hidden in that furniture section I first went through and as my mind quieted I put down my two items, went over to it and picked it up. It was a rather large snow globe and inside was a...red cardinal!?!
I brought it back over to the cash register and seeing I was next in line I placed it down on the table with new purpose and said to the woman that heard my mumble, “items just like this!” She looked at it with large eyes and commented that it was lovely, that she was sure her sister would love it and boy, how much is it?! I instinctively pulled it a bit closer to me and got out my gift card and gave it to the clerk. It cost me $22 and change.
Here it is, sitting in front of me at the center of our dining room table as I think about how often cardinals seem to enter my life just when I need them most. Frequently, when I am at the edge of the creative zone and at times unsure of myself and not paying attention, they appear. Either visually or with their unique language. Pulling me out and into that creative space that knows and wants to be still, to listen to the dance going on in my head, and always, always pushing me to keep writing.