Last week, I got a postcard from Nordstrom Rack announcing that a new shipment of shoes would be arriving in the stores. I got a pang in my stomach when I read it…and not because I need another pair of black pumps.

The reason an ad from Nordstrom Rack was painful is because it reminded me how much I miss Valerie. Shopping trips to Nordstrom Racks in San Francisco, San Leandro, and even Sacramento and San Jose were bonding experiences for us. And now that she is away at college, those shopping trips are going to happen a lot less frequently.

I don’t think it’s unusual for a mom and daughter to bond over shopping; even though I didn’t have a close relationship with my mother, shopping with her was the one time that I really felt like I had all her attention and that her ability to buy clothes for me gave her real enjoyment.

Valerie and I have had plenty of nice times shopping together at a variety of stores, but Nordstrom Rack is a place for which we have a special reverence.

Part of that is because we discovered the store together. Valerie and I happened upon it while we were in Southern California for one of her gymnastics meets. We had an afternoon with time to kill so we decided to check out the mall that was close to the hotel we were staying in and there it was…a store that we had only heard about but never experienced.

It wasn’t just any old Macy’s or Gap. Nordstrom Rack was the holy grail of shopping; Nordstrom’s merchandise at bargain basement prices.

But we discovered that it takes work to forage through the racks and find the treasures.  Four hours could easily go by when we were shopping. So when our persistence was rewarded and I scored $15 BCBG shoes and Valerie found $29 Lucky Brand jeans, we shared in the feeling of victory that we had battled our way through a sea of circular racks and come out victorious.

I know Valerie also thinks fondly about the many outings we made to Nordstrom Rack stores. She half-jokingly says that discovering Nordstrom Rack made six years of gymnastics meets all worth it. And one of the first things she did when she knew she was going to Chapman was go online to find out where the closest Nordstrom Rack is.

While I will miss going to Nordstrom Rack regularly with Valerie, I also have an opportunity. Jennifer, whose four years younger, was a real trooper on marathon shopping trips with Valerie. So now that Valerie is gone, Jennifer and I have a chance to find a different place that is a bonding experience for us. I’m looking forward to it.