No, I don't mean the kindness of our family and friends that we've experienced in the weeks since we returned to the States (although that, too, has been quite impressive). I mean that magnificent, under-appreciated shopping mecca that is the Wal-Mart of those of us too poor for Wal-Mart. Why did I not notice it before? I mean, sure, I donated a box or two of CT's clothes every year just to avoid the hassle of a yard sale, but never really paid much attention to our local Goodwill store...I mean, not really.
I've never really considered myself a snob, especially when it comes to finding a good deal. In fact, I have had to work very hard at a bridal shower not to excitedly blurt out how I scored that special wedding gift on clearance for $2.99. And I have been known to frequent the yard sales in the neighborhood, pawing through the tables and complaining that 15 cents was entirely too much to pay for that potholder featuring a large brown rooster and slightly-singed edges. So, why did I never consider the values at Goodwill before now?
My love affair started when I saw mountains and mountains of collected junk disappear from our home as we prepared to leave the country a little over a year ago. As the worker steadily unloaded each truckload piled high with box after box of old candles and my "skinny" jeans and stacked them into bins for sorting, I marveled as the house grew emptier and emptier while our new life in Honduras grew closer and closer. But this was just a small taste of the magic of Goodwill. I didn't fully appreciate this icon of shopping bliss until we returned a few weeks ago. With a son rapidly outgrowing his underwear and our suitcases full of impractical summer clothes, I really had little other choice than to rely on the endless rows of racks and inexpensive prices I found when visiting a Goodwill out of sheer boredom one recent afternoon. Now I find myself hooked by name-brand jeans and trendy hoodies affordable to even me. While PK was filling out forms for his first contract position, I bided my time at the nearby Goodwill store. And when he casually mentioned that the new position would require more formal attire than he had crumpled up in our suitcase, we made an immediate b-line to yet another Goodwill spotted from the highway.
Yep, I'm in love. Even when we are both gainfully employed again and dollar bills stuff our wallets, I'll never again be free of my compulsion for the bargains of the Goodwill. And why should I? I can spend hours shopping and spend less than I would spend on a Starbucks frappacino. You see, there is hope for the unemployed shopaholic in all of us...and it's name is Goodwill. My only regret is that I wasted all those years at Wal-Mart.