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Retail therapy.

My mom and I had a shopping date at 168 in Divisoria today. It's been quite some time since I last went shopping there. Oh, how I missed it! Nothing beats shopping at Divisoria; it is the ultimate shopping adventure -- from the relentless pursuit of the perfect item to the persistent haggling to the struggle with the crowd. The aisles never seem to end, and the stores never seem to run out of goods. The whole experience is enough to wipe anyone out to exhaustion. Ahh, it all sounds stressful. But ironically, there is a reason why it's called therapy - it's alleviating.

It's the Vistan gene. Me, my mom, and titas and lola from the mother's side are all shopaholics. We scour the streets of Divisoria, Bangkok, Singapore, and Bali for hours and hours on end with nothing but our inexorable desire to look for the best buys with us. (And yes, comfortable slippers.) Sometimes we start early (we get to 168 before 8:30) or sometimes we get there late (like in Bangkok's night markets) but whatever the time is, we're always ready to comb through all the stores with much gusto. It's a form of bonding for us. It's no wonder my lolo never complains about our shopping compulsion -- imagine, with him on a trip are five shopaholic girls. He's gotten very much used to it.

One thing about shopping is that it has a way of alleviating my neuroses. Like, after everything stressful and frustrating that has happened to me, when I get to buy something for myself that I know I worked hard for, it's rewarding. It makes me feel like I deserve something. It motivates me. I know it's wrong to be so materialistic, but for me, shopping isn't about amassing a huge amount of clothes for me to brag about. It's about giving myself something that makes me feel better. I guess it stems from the little principle my parents taught me that if you do good, then you deserve something good. If I have enough money and earned the right to reward myself, why shouldn't I shop?

But more than that, I think the satisfaction in shopping springs from the struggle. You find joy in not just buying for yourself, but in the actual pursuit for it. The search is what thrills you, like you're on a hunt for some secret treasure you have yet to discover. You enter a tiangge with no exact purchase in mind, just always with that feeling of "I know it when I see it." And you do. You find a glorious item on a stall and you just know you were meant to have it. You haggle with the saleslady, sometimes flattering them, sometimes feigning indifference, but always with the same goal in mind: to own it. And when at last you get to have it, when that plastic bag is finally in your hands, there's no greater feeling. You don't need anything else. (Or at least until the next cute item.)

Shopping is exhilarating, really.

I guess life is one big shopping adventure. We shop for the best experiences, find the greatest adventures, look for the perfect people. We never stop walking, never stop searching until we get that which we truly want. Because let's face it, settling for anything is never satisfying. We have to really comb through everything to get our heart's desires. And when we do get them, at no matter what cost, we know, we just know, that everything is going to be okay.

And why wouldn't everything be okay when you have the cutest blouse to start your summer with? :)

P.S. The best shopping buddy is always the Mom.