Another thing about getting older is how much easier it is to laugh at myself and own up to things. In my younger years, I spent so much time and energy wanting to look, or be perceived, a certain way it’s amazing I even knew myself at all. I think one of the more attractive qualities about a person is when they are who they are, even when they’re trying to be someone else. Self-awareness, self-deprecation, accountability for their actions—how people deal with the choices they make is hugely revealing, isn’t it? And when they can call themselves out on own their shit? What’s more endearing than that?
Inevitably, when I’m packing to go somewhere, I’ll try on different outfits that I never wear in everyday life, because I think I’ll want to wear them somewhere else. Like somehow I’ll be a different person just because I’m drinking different water and saying, “Excuse me, where’s the restroom?” in a different language. Curiously, I’m still me anywhere I go, and I end up looking the same as I usually do. I do have a photo of myself wearing a particular outfit that I never wore before or again after. I look like an idiot.
During my “New Wave” years, I was all about being edgy and a bit mysterious in an I’m-not-trying-this-is-just-the-way-I-am kind of way. My entire closet was black and mostly second-hand, and I tended towards accents like skull and cross bone earrings, buckles, zippers, safety pins, and shearing the hair on the sides of my head. I suppose I wanted to come across as a tough, urban chick who hung out in seedy downtown clubs with nefarious characters. While there was a degree of that behaviour, I was ultimately still a suburban girl, whose dad left money on the stairs by the door, to pay for my cab fare home from the subway.
Before my “Black Period” were my early dancer years. I loved walking around the halls of my performing arts high school in my dancer persona—ripped, off-the-shoulder t-shirts à la Flashdance, tights, oversized slouchy bag and, of course, leg warmers. Once, I had a huge zit in the middle of my forehead, so I wore a sparkly headband for a week as camouflage. Hey, it was the early 80’s! I was young, doing exactly what I wanted to do with my life, and I wanted everyone to know it. Oh, how I adore that kind of clarity and confidence!
Movies, books and other interests contributed to my “Contemporary Dancer” vibe. I’d read an artsy book like Milan Kundera’s Immortality when I was around dancers, so I’d look, well, artsy. If pressed, I wouldn’t have denied that I also read US Weekly magazine, I’d simply have enjoyed it later. TV shows seemed especially shallow and not befitting of my serious artist persona, especially when talking with dancers who didn’t watch TV. I’d instead engage in furrowed-brow discussions about this art-house film or that new art exhibition, totally aware that Melrose Place was starting in an hour.
For me, the freeing thing about getting older is that I’m more transparent about who I am, and what I like and don’t. It has something to do with being less patient, wanting to be more efficient… oh hell, I just don’t fucking care as much what people think.
Amongst so many other things, I like art galleries and sports and cooking shows and 9-hour theatrical events and love stories and movies that are so bad they’re good and music that gets under my skin and poetic things that make me cry and reality TV and gathering with a bunch of people to cheer on our team and gorgeous dancing and playing charades and thinking about why people are the way they are and why stuff is and being with people who make me laugh and eating potato chips and drinking big bold red wine and oohing and awing at fireworks and travelling to places I’ve never been and being home.
My friend, S, once freely admitted that when he was travelling in Europe, he slung a guitar across his shoulder because he liked the way it made him look. He doesn’t play guitar. I love him for that.