“I come from the Land of Lululemon,” I say to Sandy, who’s sitting across from me at Obladee, a wine bar in downtown Halifax.
I sit back on the bench seat and cross one leg over the other, swinging my red-booted foot back and forth, waiting.
“The land of Lululemon…” he repeats.
Uh oh… no laugh.
Sandy is in my writing program, a born and raised Haligonian, and a promising prospect for Project Friend. He’d read my blog post “Back away slowly…” and sent me an email, offering to spend an evening showing me around the Halifax bar scene.
But right now, he’s looking kinda puzzled.
This wasn’t the first time for the line. Relying on my trusty comic instincts, I drop it in at a certain point during an “I’m-new-to-Halifax” conversation, as an ice breaker. It usually gets a good laugh.
Here’s how it typically goes…
Them:“Did you move here for a job?”
Me: “Nope—no job.”
Them: “Did your husband move here for a job?”
Me: “Nope—no husband.”
Sometimes I get asked how I can afford to live here sans job or husband, which is a bit cheeky, and the first few times I’d said, “That’s a bit personal.” But it made conversation awkward, so now I say, “I planned for it.” Depending on the person, I sometimes get the old up and down, which shows that, definitely, I’m on the other side of 50, leaving little possibility of a “Sugar Daddy,” meaning I’m speaking the truth.
And I am. For now, I can keep bananas in my fruit bowl and my bestie landlady happy with rent cheques that don’t bounce, while I write my book. That said, in the not too distant future, I will be working again, and until I’m 93 because, in case you missed it, I’m in second divorce recovery mode, with all its financial repercussions.
Anyway, sooner or later it gets to…
Them: “Why did you move here?”
If I’m gonna do it, this is the point where I drop the Lululemon line, like I just did with Sandy.
Going bar to bar, our conversation hadn’t followed the usual I-just-moved-to-Halifax trajectory, but I’d seen signs of Sandy’s sense of humour. So when we settled into the second bar, I blurted the ice-breaker as an opener to why I moved halfway across the country, really, for no good reason.
“The Land of Lululemon” is my euphemism for conventional suburban life. Let me unpack the term, and I promise, it’ll make sense.
Every suburban generation develops a unique look.
Back in the late 80s, when I had my first son, it was permed hair, bangs, high-waisted mom-jeans, and shoulder pads. In the 90s, when my second and third sons were born, it was duck shoes and Northern Reflection small-floral-print turtlenecks, worn with pleated khakis. Perms and bangs—out.
By the time the mid-00’s rolled around, mainstream suburbia had embraced everything spandex and Lycra, with outfits that both contained and reshaped bellies, butts and boobs, squishing bad bits here and shoving good bits there. Lululemon was first to be best at it, and the look stuck, hence my coining of the term, The Land of Lululemon.
Somehow, I’d spent three decades in the suburban landscape—which was a full decade past my best before date, current suburbanites being in their late 30s and early 40s, while I am… well you know…
In my Waterloo hometown, there were four de facto requirements for suburban existence: 1 or more children under the age of 18 (step-kids count), husband/boyfriend/live-in, designer dog and, obviously, Lululemon gear.
As my kids entered their 20s, I was just shifting out of the suburban frontier. But then I got married again—my re-entry into round three. I had young step-kids, a hubby, and designer dog, Bella. It was an easy move to get into the gear. I’d been waiting for this kind of look for years, and I took to it like chocolate chips takes to my hips…
Then two years ago, everything changed again, except for Lululemon Land and the dog.
I stopped putting on real clothes and started wearing the uniform—all the time. I wore it to exercise, to the grocery store, while cooking and eating—really, pretty much through all daylight hours. When night came, I just rolled into bed in my… comfy, black Lemon-jammies… and, when I woke up in in the morning, I was already dressed.
While that was going on, my age appropriate couple’d up peers were busy condo-izing, cottaging, retiring, planning trips, and yah, some of them were even discovering that they liked each other much better with their kids out of the house. And not that I wasn’t welcome in that world, but as a constant 3rd, 5th, 7th or 9th wheel, it just wasn’t what I envisioned myself doing for the rest of my days.
Two years slipped away like this, until one morning, after I rolled my black-clad Lululemonized body out of bed, I stopped ducking the truth: I’d outgrown Lululemon Land, but I didn’t fit in coupledom.
I am going to tell the complete truth now.
Until the moment BFF Leslie and I hit the road for Halifax in July, I was still hardcore mainlining suburbia. It was what I knew and what had kept me waking up in the morning for two years. I’d been white knuckling it for dear life, petrified that if I let go, I would drop into an abyss. Ripping myself away from it was the only way forward.
Two months and 1,892 miles out of my comfort zone, drinking wine at Obladee across the table from Sandy, I’m bumbling through my bizarre explanation of Lululemon Land, hoping it makes some kind of sense to another human, aside from me.
My words dribble to a finish.
“…being in Halifax is about leaving the Land of Lululeman—because I didn’t fit in anymore on my own, either with the suburban crowd or with the couples I used to hang out with.”
Phew. Done talking, I take a sip of wine to avoid seeing a “This woman is insane” expression on Sandy’s face.
“Like those red cowboy boots didn’t fit?” he asks, then points to my foot, still swinging away, bedeckled by my favourite boots, and we both laugh.
I look down at the boots I’d purchased in Chicago, a year and a half ago. In Waterloo, I’d worn them every chance I could, with my Lululemons. Tonight, I’d worn them for the first time since arriving in Halifax, with jeans, because lately, my Lululemon gear only comes out for running or yoga.
“Do you want to go to The Old Triangle and hear some Celtic musicans?” asks Sandy.
“Yup, I sure do.” I drain my wineglass, and the two of us head out the door and out into a gorgeous evening.
Funny… when I let go of Lululemon Land, I never did drop into an abyss. Might be time to retire the line. It’s really about red cowboy boots now.
PS Hugs and kisses to Cari and Kellie, my favourite Lululemon Land gal pals.
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