I’m a great fan of window displays. Part of it, I suppose, comes from growing up poor. As a kid, I never felt “poor”. We were a family that budgeted with a rather austere strictness. Sometimes, especially at the end of the month, there wasn’t much on the table. We hardly ever took family vacations and, if we did, we drove. I think I was in college before I set foot on an airplane for the first time. Many of my clothes were home made. And there weren’t a lot of “extras”. Still, we never, ever went hungry. We laughed and entertained ourselves. I had pets, which I loved. Heck, I even had a horse! I still don’t know how my parents managed to swing that one, but I am certain it involved some sort of work exchange to pay for the hay and feed. This was just the way things were. It was life. As a kid, I didn’t question it or wonder about it. I just lived in that moment, accepting the state of my family and my little corner of the world.

Toy Store Window: Cape Cod, Mass.It never occurred to me to hate others who had more than I did. It never occurred to me that I had less than many of the people around me. I didn’t realize there were kids out there who got everything they wanted handed to them, who didn’t have to work and save to earn their privileges and special treats. Or, maybe, I did realize it but didn’t dwell on it. I had to work for things, and, if something was important enough, it was work well spent. Besides, a little hard work never hurt anyone, and, sometimes, it goes a long way toward building character.

Store Window: Leesburg, VAAs an adult, I look back on my childhood and realize: Yep, we were poor. Not with a feeling of anger or regret. I do regret things about my childhood — lots of things. But growing up poor isn’t one of them. It’s just a fact, neither good nor bad, like the knowledge that, barring some unforeseen catastrophe, the sun is going to come up tomorrow morning.

Shave Shop Window: District of ColumbiaEarly on, I learned dreaming was free. My physical existence was grounded in the here-and-now, hemmed in by the expectations of others and the very real fact that there was no extra money for adventures or new experiences. But my mind was free. I could travel anywhere or do anything at all in my imagination. There were no borders or limits — just me and whatever I could think up. If I could dream it, I could do it.

Store Window: Leesburg, VAWindow shopping was a favorite activity in our family. All those things, just out there on display. It was fun to peer into each store window and see all the items offered for sale, each one displayed in a way calculated to lure us inside … each one, perhaps, opening up the longing for things that might be, if our world was a little bit different, a little bit more than what it was. Maybe, there were things we wanted enough to scrimp and save: a sacrifice, yes, but worth the reward awaiting us at the end of the ordeal. More often, there would be items that were neat. Things that would create hours of fun in our possession, and yet, not desired enough to make the sacrifice required to claim them for our own.

Window display: Disney World, FloridaFor me, window shopping offered an entirely different experience. I still remember peering into each store window, watching the play of light and the way the reflections bounced around. It all seemed to turn the ordinary into something better … something “more”. It felt as if I was the one lucky traveler from our world who had been invited into a new and enchanting universe — a place where anything was possible. And like that proverbial traveler in a strange land, I loved standing there, my face and hands pressed up against the glass, staring in at this tiny glimpse of a world just out of reach. It was fun to imagine myself sitting down to tea in a quaint, cozy cottage, or playing board games with a group of stuffed animals come to life, or traveling the globe until my passport was filled with stamps and my luggage filled with destination stickers to show everywhere I had been. But, like the traveler I pretended to be, I wasn’t invited to stay. The make believe world was lovely for a visit, but real life always called me back.

Belle and Beast: Disney World, FLI haven’t outgrown my love of window displays. And, yes, even as an adult, I find myself drawn toward them. I pause, letting myself settle into their make-believe world, and feel my real-life cares and worries slip away. It’s only for a short while — a little refresher. And then, I continue on my way, leaving only my hand prints behind on the glass. One small reminder that, once upon a time, I was there, if only for a bit. And, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to come again … one day soon.








14 thoughts on “Windows

  1. I love this beautiful perspective you bring to your experience of gowing up. It really drew me in to your world and I loved that world looking throgh your eyes. The vision of the handprint is a beautiful expression of leaving a sign or reminder that at one moment you were there! Well written

  2. What a lovely post.

    It took me back to the time I was studying in London. Christmas time,walking down Regent Street with the lights and wonderful window displays. The shops do a have money to spend on such displays but it still takes imagination to make them come alive.

    If I was in the engine room of the good ship WordPress this would be Freshly Pressed. Beautiful.

    • Awwww! Thank you so, so much for your wonderful, kind comment. And for the huge vote of confidence, too. I appreciate both very much.

      Oh my! London at Christmas time has to be the best window shopping in the world! So many gorgeous displays. My hubby and I honeymooned there, and went around Christmas time on purpose — just because I wanted to have the chance to window shop. (I know. I’m a bit nuts. =P)

      Anyhow, so happy you enjoyed the post. And thank you for your continued support. πŸ™‚

    • So, so true! I think, when you’re in the moment, it’s hard to realize how special something is.

      You’re very welcome, and thank you for the kind comment. I am happy you enjoyed the post. πŸ™‚

  3. Lovely writing. I love how tender you talk about your family. Art is all around for us to appreciate. Seems you find art already framed by windows!

    • Thank you very much! In many ways, it wasn’t a perfect childhood. But I like hanging on to the good memories the best. All the other stuff … it’s hard to do so … but I try to let it go. (Not always successful, but every day is a new journey. :))

      I couldn’t agree more that there are fantastic, beautiful things — “art” — all around us. Sometimes, it’s hard to notice, especially when life is too busy.

      Thanks again for your comment, and for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  4. This was another lovely piece! I truly feel sorry for those who were born privileged and had everything handed to them… they have a much harder time appreciating the little things in life that can bring happiness! The best things in life truly are free, and imagination has never cost a thing! πŸ™‚

    • Thank you very much! I’m happy you enjoyed the post. πŸ™‚

      It’s true that, often, privilege isn’t the greatest thing in the world. Funny how, from the outside, it seems that those folks “have it all”. But, later, you realize that’s not necessarily the case. Imagination, to me, remains the best ride of them all. πŸ˜€

  5. Beautiful piece that resonates! My escape was in books, but Dooley’s Five and Dime in Fredericksburg was always a fascinating mecca. πŸ˜‰

    • Oh gosh! That Dooley’s store always had the best window displays. (Still does!) I escaped through books a lot, too — as you know. But, sometimes, a good old-fashioned daydream was in order. πŸ˜€

      I hope you and your family are doing well! I’ve missed chatting with you and keeping up with things via Facebook. But I’ll be back soon!

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