I've noticed that all my posts have been so serious lately and so I am consciously trying to write about something a little more...light. That will seem punny in a few short minutes.
I decided to spend my lovely Sunday going to the mall and returning some things I bought a few days ago. Actually, I wanted to do an exchange--maybe get the skirt in a different color, return the top and get some more lacy underthings, because a girl always needs more lacy underthings.
As I entered the parking structure and noticed the already circling sharks looking for the one parking spot closest to the door, I knew I made a big mistake. What was I doing, I thought to myself, as I entered the fray and began to scan for parking. Today is Sunday, I reaffrimed as I circled for the third time. I should come to the mall during the week, I told myself as a little hyundai beat me to the empty fissure passing as a parking spot.
And I circled my way out of the parking structure and very happily drove back to my sleeping pains-in-the-asses (aka cats) in the backyard. On the way home I reflected on the conversation I had with Mary regarding clothes shopping and the quest to look business-respectable without breaking the bank, or your sense of self.
When I was in high school I ran with the Wearers-Of-Black crowd. My head was partly shaved, the rest of my hair was mostly uncombed and purple, I wore at least four necklaces at once, rings on almost every finger, black boots, and I had, without exaggeration, the BEST collection of tights this side of the Atlantic. I know that because I got most of my tights on the Haight in SF and they were mostly from England designers. So there were probably girls (or possibly boys) on the other side of the Atlantic with a tights collection that would put mine to shame, but in Los Altos, the Bay Area, and the West Coast as a whole (excluding Southern Calilfornia, because they don't count anyway), I was Queen of the Cool Tights.
Yeah, that's me sitting on the gravestone in my cool trenchcoat with my cool little band buttons and my cool friend who got sent to St Francis, the catholic private high school, because her parents wanted to protect her from all the drugs at the public school. Incidentally, she did WAY more drugs than I ever did, and she's the one who got me into the Santa Clara party circuit and got me stoned for the first time in my life. So whatever.
I know the photo is pretty shitty becasue I scanned it from the original and that never comes out good, but if you look closely at my blackest self you may notice that I am wearing one of my cool tights. They were printed with paisleys on this grey background, such that people thought my legs were tattooed. I mean, I saw girls buy tights that were black with these shitty paisleys stamped on them with what looked like puffy paint, but these, these were Mary Quant, high quality, British-made tights and I WAS COOL.
So there I am wearing black on the outside because black was how I felt on the inside (does that mean that paisley was how I felt on the inside, too?), sitting on some poor dead person's grave hanging with a couple of friends--did I mention that it is the middle of the night and we had to climb over the cemetery gate? I mean, how goth can you get. Yeah!
I was always pissed off when people, namely adults, wrote me off as a loser just because I looked the way I did. They assumed I was another kid wasting my life; squandering it on drugs, alchohol, and S&M sex with some dude who dyed his hair and painted his fingernails black who stole from the Goodwill.
Okay, yeah, that sterotype held true, in one way or another, for the majority of my friends in the Freak Klub, but not so with me (well, I was no angel, but I wasn't squandering anything). I was a student in AP English and AP US History, I had 3 years of German under my belt, and I was on the varsity field hockey team. When adults looked at me they didn't see a girl who passed most of her classes exceptionally well for never studying, they saw a Problem Child.
Anyway, as life progressed for little Freak me (who had to endure the stupid neighbor two years older than me who liked to scream, "YEEEEAAAAAHHHHH!!!! PUNK RAAAAWWWWWK!!!!!!" at me from her bedroom every time she saw me--but as I heard her blaring "Raspberry Beret" by Prince all summer long I knew she was a poser and I could hold her in complete comtempt) and I moved up to Salem, OR to go Willamette University and be THE ONLY person on the campus whose wardrobe was 95% black, I began to mellow out.
For me, being a Freak was fun and satisfying because I belonged to an exclusive and slightly intimidaing clique, and we looked out for each other and I truly loved my friends. We were all a little too weird and creative and wild to be friends with anybody else, and we readily accepted into our ranks all those who felt the same, regardless of their attachment to black clothing and big boots. There were some people whom we excluded even though they wore black and professed a liking for Ministry. It was the wild and crazy about people that we loved, the exterior wasn't as important (although I confess, it did help).
So today, 17 years later, I still struggle with people's first impression of me because I have this ring embedded in my lip and I look like I am barely 21. I know every time I go for a doula interview I need to be impeccable in my appearance and manners because I am swimming against The Tide Of Body Piercings And A Young Looking Face. It still pisses me off when people judge me by my cover, and don't even give me a chance to show them who I truly am inside. I understand that habitually we will make snap judgements, I do it too, but I generally allow a person a chance to show me who they really are. As powerful as first impressions are, they can also be so terribly limiting.
And that just makes me want to go lie on a gravestone somewhere, listen to Bauhaus, and wait for that tragically romantic moment when I get bit by the vampire who happens to be the love of my life so that we can live undead and unhappily ever after. And chase down all those stupid people who drove me to my tragic end.