Velvet and Denim

I’ll never understand how they do it. There’s a way they all kind of look. Their hair a certain set of styles. Their jeans a certain type–not too wide, not too low, not too tight. They don’t have ragged cuticles and probably get their nails done weekly. They have bodies developed and perfected in a gym. I’m guessing they don’t have cat fur or paint or some undefinable goo on their shirts and if they aren’t jetting about on expensive tennis shoes they are gliding gracefully on wedge heels like ginger rogers sans Fred Astaire.

Who are they? They are grown up women. I know chronologically I fall into that category, but somehow my hair is wild and changes color often. My jeans are wider than cracker jack sailor pants or somehow just this side of right. I chew my cuticles and I haven’t had my nails done since 1990. I tried a gym and will again, but reading and painting keeps getting in the way of sweating. And there’s that pesky cleaning and cooking thing. I am covered head to toe in so much cat fur that I strongly resemble one of the more tufty domestic cats and oh lord I always have goo. The goo comes from everywhere–the collages, the paints, the cats’ eye boogers, the child, her food. Goo finds me like I’m heat and it’s a missile. I am trying to learn to wear “fancy” shoes as the Bean calls them, a wedge heel here and there of about 1 inch or maybe dangerously 1.5 inches. My tennis shoes, I’ve recently upgraded, hoping vainly that would be my golden ticket to grown up ladyhood.

Nope.

I’ve tried off and on since the Bean started going to preschool and certainly now in kindergarten to ‘fit in’ a bit more. Age, time and general proclivities (aging fair skinned lasses do not look so good in all black as they sail into their dotage) have calmed my wardrobe somewhat. I still have all the amazing, tall, pointy, velvety and steel toed boots from days of yore, but they mostly sit in my closet like memories. I’d rather be in a skirt than jeans, I still just hate jeans, but that’s the uniform here and when you are likely at any moment to be toppled by a charging five year old or several–hey with legs akimbo in jeans my undergarments aren’t likely to greet the assembled audience.

No matter what though, I just can’t get it right. I never could. Even in high school, with some clearer cut rules (no not Keds, NIKES–not cuffed socks, bunched and you aren’t wearing Zena jeans? What’s WRONG with you) I still didn’t get it. What everyone else was wearing often made me feel itchy. The clothes I felt comfortable in often resembled a costume to those arbiters of teenage taste, and they made sure I knew it. Pretty quickly I gave up and ran, cackling wildly in the complete other direction. I shaved the sides of my head and dyed my hair yellow, red and orange. Or blue and green. Or my personal favorites–fuchsia and crayola red. I traipsed about in combat boots and flowing expanses of velvet and black lace. Usually there was a skull somewhere.

Now, I don’t know what to do really. I’d look ridiculous with crayola red hair, so sometimes I have an intense auburn. It doesn’t look real (red fades over the month), but it is a natural color and it looks good. I wear jeans, but do it badly. I like converse tennis shoes better than just about anything but sometimes I have to have the arch support of those pumas. I still have several many black skirts and I have to wear them often, my girly self just doesn’t like the necessary evil of denim. I did add some colorful skirts too, but somehow I make them look just as weird as the black ones. I’m trying to find a way to dress with flair and not stray too far into the land of too young (hard because I love skulls and Emily Strange cat tshirts) or too eccentric (not very successful there–my favorite velvet jacket has been fitted with wonderful grinning cat buttons).but…

The Bean’s mom, well it’s a small southern town. There are a number of imports here now, moreso than before, but certain attitudes still prevail many times. It’s liberal but nobody wants to appear outré. I know I’m a nice, principled, educated person with excellent values. I even go to a (Unitarian albeit) church. But I think I just give off that weird vibe.

And I can’t dress normal for the life of me. I think it might make me itch. I’m not even sure *how* to.

I hope people will be able to see around that. I don’t think I can be any other way. Every so often I give it a shot, realize I’m *still* getting it not quite right, and just slowly ease back toward hodgepodge, slightly wacky me. We tell our kids how important it is to be themselves, be true–but our society, our little cultures of here and there, don’t give the same message. Don’t rock the boat, don’t stand out, don’t don’t above all be different. Don’t be yourself.

But what if you can’t help it? And how do you get comfortable all over again?

Yes, that’s it. Be yourself. So (not) simple.