That leads me to my next confession. I went on one last shopping spree the week after Rana Plaza fell. My dear friend was in Portland for a work conference and I stayed with her in her hotel so we could spend a lot of time together. Right next to her hotel was a bright and shiny Target. We do not have a Target anywhere near our new home so since we moved to Portland four years ago it has been easy to curb that addiction without access. But get me anywhere near one for an extended period of time and everything I thought I was melts into a burning need for more clothing. I have gained some weight lately and many of my Summer clothes were not fitting well so that was my main justification for the relapse. Of course I did not want to face the truth. Maybe instead of buying bigger clothes, I could just lose the weight. But where is the immediate gratification in that? I was raised in America after all. We are taught to throw things away when they break instead of getting them fixed. We have so much excess that we fill up secondary stores like GoodWill and Salvation Army to over flowing.
These are the items I bought on that last shopping spree:
Three tops, one skirt, one dress and one purse.
This was a light haul for me but I was rusty and my conscience was SCREAMING at me the entire time. I knew about Rana Plaza but I had not looked at any pictures or followed the story. I'd seen a few FaceBook posts about it but that was about as far as I'd been willing to take it because of the inevitable conclusion. I do not remember the exact amount that I spent but it was definitely in the triple digits. When I got back to the hotel room I tore the tags off immediately so that it would be harder for me to return them later.
That weekend we travelled down to San Diego for my sister-in-law's wedding. I happily brought all my new purchases. On our drive back to Portland I had a lot of time to sit and think and read things on FaceBook. There were several posts about Rana Plaza and I finally started digging into the story and seeing the images. Just as I feared, the switch was flipped and I knew that I would never again wear any of the clothing in my closet that might possibly have made by the hands of the victims, or their counterparts in other countries. That is why this last shopping spree will take special honor in the bonfire. These are the items that I bought with full awareness of the deaths in Bangladesh.
I announced my intentions to my family in the car. My husband wasn't surprised, nor was my son. My 15 year old daughter, however, was stoney silent and clearly pissed. My heart dropped. I remembered the trip we had just taken to Seattle together where we tore through the gigantic three story Forever 21. We had so much fun, just like my Mom and I used to. That shopping trip felt special and significant. It bonded us and allowed us some girly togetherness. It was a scene right out of my childhood.
My heart broke when I realized what I was taking away from my daughter. She didn't speak to me for over 24 hours. I must admit this made me waiver slightly. But in the end I knew that I had to follow through. If nothing else, FOR my daughter. I do not want to see her 30K in credit debt at the age of 42. I am completely held prisoner by my debt. If I were not so deep under I would be able to work part time and still pay my mortgage. I think about how much more time that would allow me for my family and for activism.
And finally for some GOOD news!
17 days after the collapse of Rana Plaza a cry for help was heard in the basement area of the building. It was the anguished cry of 19 year old Reshma Begum.
"On the morning of April 24, she heard there were cracks in the building and saw co-workers, mainly men, refusing to enter. The managers reassured them:
'There is no problem. You do your work,' she said.
Soon after, the building crashed down around her.
'When it happened I fell down and was injured in the head heavily. Then I found myself in darkness,' she said. She tried to crawl to safety, but could not find a way out, she said.
She survived on four packets of cookies she had with her and some water, she said.
'Another person, a man, was near me. He asked for water. I could not help him. He died. He screamed, 'Save me,' but he died,' she said.
'I can't remember everything that happened.'
'I never thought of coming back alive," she said.'"
Reshma has vowed to never work in a garment factory again. Reshma is only 4 years older then my daughter. She could be my daughter. Talk about a healthy dose of perspective. I do not want to pass this addiction down to my daughter. We will find other activities to bond over.