Luxury & Compromise

After splashing around in the freshwater lagoons at the Ecological Park, we decided to go see my Aunt, who works at a high-end retail store located within the same resort. The intention was simply to tour the store, visit with my Aunt, and head out. But our group became quickly distracted by the gorgeous apparel with very high price tags.

My Aunt's store in Punta Cana
My Aunt’s store in Punta Cana

I am a child of privilege. I know this and feel thankful for it every day. My family isn’t rich but we’ve always lived comfortably, had access to everything we needed, and enjoyed our fair share of luxuries. It is largely thanks to this that I have been able to pursue my recent avenues of choice. My ability to break free of all responsibility to say, only work six months a year, walk across Spain for 6 weeks, or head to Mexico for 4 months (eek!) is in large part thanks to my family’s well-being and commitment to allowing me to live however I choose. And although most of my adventures are self-funded, these past weeks in the Dominican Republic have been made entirely possible by them.

All that being said, my normal life is very simple. I live in government housing, shop at thrift stores, and do everything I can to keep my accumulations under control so that I can fit everything I own into my car in order to move 2-4 times a year. If you had told me 4 years ago that this was how I would be living I would have told you that you were crazy! But living simply has brought me a lot of joy. It’s amazing how much ‘stuff’ can be a burden and it’s totally freeing to know that if I had to move tomorrow I could very easily do so. Living like this has opened my eyes to how little you need, and it is really this realization that has unlocked this world of travel to me.

The ladies in shoes by Oscar de la Renta
The ladies in shoes by Oscar de la Renta

But, I am still a 20 something year old woman, and what woman doesn’t drool over a pair of designer shoes every now and then?

Still clad in our bathing suits and cover-ups, we browsed the store sipping champagne (because that’s how you browse in stores of this caliber). I was at first reluctant to try anything on in fear that I would become prematurely attached to something I didn’t need. But half a glass in and I was trying on every shoe in the store!

I quickly developed an alter-ego, probably as some sort of psychological coping mechanism (sticker shock is a dangerous thing!), and threw my thrifty self to the wind in order to become ‘Virginia’ – a fabulous New York fashionista with no limit on money to spare. Prancing around in $800 shoes and $1000 sunglasses, the poor park ranger inside of me started wondering if voluntary simplicity really was the way to go. After all, how much harm could one slightly pricey pair of earrings really do?

'Virginia' in designer shoes and sunglasses with Austin's mom and our champagne!
‘Virginia’  and Austin’s mom in designer shoes and sunglasses and our champagne!

You could buy a plane ticket with the money those earrings cost, I reminded myself as Virginia began to wilt away.

Life is about compromise. There are ups and downs to every lifestyle. The products in the store that day were worth their price. They were timeless and beautiful and exquisitely made. Properly cared for, those pieces could last forever in your closet. And they made me feel beautiful, and glamorous, and very, very special. It may not be the life I’ve chosen, but it was sure fun to visit. And that’s okay too.

Will my closet be filled with designer clothes any time soon? Probably not. But lucky for Virginia, I do have one new pair of very nice shoes to tuck into to my trunk during that next move.

Hey, that’s compromise! …right??

'Virginia' and Austin's dad. Those shoes ended up under the Christmas Tree. Oops!
‘Virginia’ and Austin’s dad. Those shoes ended up under the Christmas Tree. Oops!

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