SALDI

Saldi. No, not a ridiculous abbreviation for Salvador Dali.

This is the Italian word meaning “sales.” Maybe you didn’t jump right to Dali; I easily did, but then that says something about me.

January is the month of the Saldi in Rome. Every shop screams it on their glass storefront windows. SALDI SALDI SALDI. It’s practically in the air. The savings are spilling out on to the sidewalks. It’s like the opposite of buyer’s remorse. Money may as well be funneling out of the fountains. Exaggeration. – In truth, being here only for the time of the saldi, these crafty Italians could be telling me everything is on sale when, in fact, this is full price. I just don’t know. Study abroad arrival occurring at this saldi juncture seems a bit cruel, because, alas, I am a student, on a stipend, and euros are not spewing out of aqueducts. So, I marvel at the saldi from the other side of the glass window and apologize to all the pretty leather boots for not buying them. My mother and the credit card company are so proud, I’m sure.

Saldi in Rome occurs twice a year, now in January and February and then later in July. The sale happening now doesn’t quite make sense to me. Christmas shopping has come and gone. I mean, how much leather does one Italian need? Silly question. The answer is: more than he currently has.

So, today I minorly succumbed to the temptation of the sweet-sounding saldi. Really, everyone was doing it. I couldn’t say no. Claiming only two inexpensive items was emerging relatively unscathed, I rationalize. The shopping artery Via del Corso has the potential to steal anyone’s pride.

Shopping here appears in vast dimensions and stratospheres. The walk to the stores meant crossing Ponte Sisto, strolling by the street artists desperately vending their talents. It meant passing by a perfectly lit book tent on the walk back. The grand saldi has little effect on these endeavors. I find myself asking myself if I could distinguish true talent in street art. Could I pick out Canova if he set out his sketches in the street? Do I determine value because of its saldi percentage discount? Do I look at things differently when they perch behind glass windows? Of course I do, but is that right?

Shouldn’t some respect be paid to true attention, true favor – actually liking something because I like it, not because a store tells me to? Italy is not immune to consumerism. Right now, the saldi is king. But, do we have to become slave? Should there be this pressure to save by spending? What does that mean? I’m thinking about a more accidental approach to my shopping from here on out. When it hits me, when I see the unique thing that grabs me by the throat and says, “Claire, it’s me,” (as I’m hoping a watch will soon) then I buy.

That authenticity, that true allure and liking should be worth every euro cent. To saldi, or not to saldi? – I’d rather just be.

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