I’m not quite right, I’ve known for a long while, almost since grade school. Maybe it was the baby blue, cat-eye glasses with ruby rhinestones I insisted on when it came time to pick out my first pair of glasses. I was forced to wear a patch over my right eye for a couple weeks in second grade. The Optometrist was adamant the patch would make my lazy eye strong. It never worked, but Patsy felt horrible that I had to wear the patch and gave into the artsy glasses, she even bought me some white, calve high, walkin’ boots, like the ones Nancy Sinatra wore when she sang “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”
I never travelled with the masses. Months, years, and even decades went by before I truly accepted myself. Having recently arrived at fifty, I thought it was time. Now, when I am looking over my shoulder at the past I shudder when I spot those periods in my life when I tried to be part of, fit in, look like, and be everything I wasn’t. Of course, “one size fits all’ is a misnomer; something always gave me away, almost as if my tail was poking through my “normal” costume.
In the seventh grade, it was the story I wrote about the gypsies. In high school, it was because I knew every single Dean Martin song by heart, and just knowing Eddie Fisher was married to Debbie Reynolds saw me banished to the loser bench during lunch times. The ’70s had failed to seduce me, instead, I traveled back. In college, it was reciting Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” when stressed. I never realized this was an audible event. Marti, the Dorm President, suggested that I might want to find a different poem to recite while studying in the group room. She had a point.
In my corporate life, it was my clothes. Investment banking had a dress code, blue and black, shades of grey and white. I never wore white silk blouses with my blue, pin, stripped suits. I’ve always thought navy and fuchsia made a handsome couple. Of course, with the corporate salary came the discovery of other, more, luxurious treats, like hair color, red shoes, exotic purses made from vintage fabrics, books, music, travel, and, boutiques. Life’s march continued forward, as did my own evolution. Both competing for attention, neither followed a straight line, nor kept to plan.
Somewhere along the way I got married, had a couple of kids, a boy and a girl. My girl is me, only in THX, and Kodak only wishes they could capture her Technicolor—I will be ashes in the wind when she figures out what I finally did. I know when I am walking the halls of her school the other Mom’s give me the once over, some do a reasonable job of hiding their disapproval, others don’t. It’s part of the Mom game I guess. I took a lover along the way, we lasted five years—it was a good run. Those mom’s who cast their disapproving stare in my direction wouldn’t approve of that choice either, but as the Joe South song goes, “Walk a Mile in My Shoes.” Life is an event, is it not?
Turning fifty was a surprise, to be honest. At fifty, I am still wearing my hair long and chemically enhancing its tones. It’s not to hide the grey that is weaving its way in, it’s because the bronze and golden highlights are a striking contrast to the Cadbury’s Bourneville chocolate natural hair color I was born with. I continue to shop at boutiques as an alternative to big box department stores. I can’t see my curvaceous form in floral colored Capris. A noticeable and noteworthy change in my shopping habits, I buy better bras these days. What I do share with women across the globe, is my body’s battle with time. I fret over the shape of my body. A decade or so ago it occurred to me that no woman, whether she is a size 0 or a size 20, is truly, completely, 100 percent happy with the body she is putting in her jeans. It was a grounding moment, the mirror and I struck an accord.
At fifty, I’ve accepted who I am and that something is missing, but it’s not something I’ve lost.