T.J. Maxx Home Goods

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I shower. I get dressed. I spend more time than I would on a work day putting on makeup. I leave my house, get on the train and head straight to my happy place: the home goods section of T.J.Maxx.

It’s the perfect place to kill time. In a pinch, any discount retailer’s home goods section will do, but the ol’ Maxx is superior. Marshalls lacks the variety and is too small, with tiny aisles organized in a way that makes no sense. Ross works. Target is too overwhelming, with too many distractions. In a pinch, the same results can be achieved by browsing discount beauty supplies and trying on FitFlops at Nordstrom Rack, but the Maxx is really where it’s at.

In a pinch, any discount retailer’s home goods section will do, but the ol’ Maxx is superior.

The best method is to have no time limit at all. Just wander in with an iced tea and something loud and good in your headphones, and an afternoon that previously had no purpose is validated. Once I set foot in the store, my meanderings are contextualized. Walking aimlessly around my neighborhood feels pointless. Touching cut-rate cast iron pans and testing all the salad spinners does not.

I start in the beauty section first, gleefully sniffing body lotions and perfumes, while considering wrinkle creams and serums. I work out whatever’s going on in my head as I browse. The time I take to contemplate duvet covers and bath towels sharpens the edges on the issue, crystallizing it and bringing it into sharp relief. Each duvet cover I consider brings me one step closer to figuring my issue out.

Window shopping for home goods allows you to parse out perceived life improvements that feel manageable. Shopping for clothes in this state is no good. The itch to buy something — a new shirt, a dress, a pair of unrealistic sandals — is too strong. Walking into an H&M in this mood makes me realize that the stretched out jersey dress I’m wearing is both unflattering and unintentionally transparent, like the rest of my clothing. To follow this train of thought to its end is dangerous; it leads to rash spending and crippling self doubt. Clothes shopping is loaded. Bodies are a sensitive subject. If you’re trying to figure out whether or not you should go for that promotion, browsing the sale section of Old Navy is going to send you into a tailspin. Trying to work a pair of jeans over the expanse of your sweaty thighs as you consider breaking up with your boyfriend will only make you feel worse. Your mood has a place and that place is T.J.Maxx.

It’s usually chaotic. There are discarded scented candles sitting on top of piles of non-stick saute pans, with a hand towel thrown across the top for good measure. Someone has inevitably left a half-empty Starbucks cup directly on top of the pot you’re trying to maneuver off a shelf. If you make your way to the packaged food section, you’ll find that the package of Key lime flavored, chocolate dipped coconut patties you’ve selected with the intent to purchase is already opened. It’s not perfect, but that’s why it’s so great.

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