When I was a freshman in high school and 14 years old my wardrobe consisted of Levi’s, long and short sleeved t-shirts from a surf shop called Freedom, and beige, blue, and dark brown suede sneakers called Docksiders. The only time I wore a skirt was when I was cheerleading. I did not, as far as I can recall, own any sort of high-heeled shoes.
In the spring of my freshman year, in gym, forced to somehow manage some semblance of eye hand coordination for the game of tennis, I met a new friend, a year older than I and a grade ahead of me, whose first words to me were, “why do you dress like a boy?” Yes, we are still dear friends. I have been friends with her steadily, through thick and thin, for better or worse, and lord knows in my case through richer and poorer, since the first day we met, but I digress…what I am writing about today does not really have to do with friendships it has to do with me, of course, it’s always about me, and how I feel about how I might like to change a bit, or lots, in the new year.
I have been watching re-runs of Sex In The City, several times a week for the last couple of weeks, and aside from it being a delightful show, it is making me think it is time to reinvent myself, in two specific ways. First, on the “inside” it is making me aware that I have been “one of those women” who always, every time, through every new boyfriend, puts her friendships aside for a boy. It is not at all that I stop my friendships, but I certainly stop the level of interaction I had with my friends and focus almost all of my attention on the boy. Now to be clear, I also give a lot of attention to my job and the wee-ones, so the term “free time” is pretty tight to begin with, then trying to spend what free time I’ve got doing fun things or laughing or kissing, well, you know, we have to choose, and in my case, I generally choose the boy. I have apologized, in person, through email, in texts, and on the phone even, when it comes up in conversation, that generally starts with the other person saying that they miss me and would like to spend some time with me and that my friendship is missed. Then I feel guilt. The good solid lapsed-Catholic kind of guilt.
Second, watching this show is making me think about shoes…pretty shoes, shimmery shoes, high heeled shoes. All these years later, I dress like a boy most days. I still have the Levi’s but they have not fit in YEARS, and I look at them, longingly and wonder when I let myself go as they now could not get over my knees. I am not the kind of girl who ever could afford Manolo’s or Louboutin’s, never in a hundred years, but I could make an effort, when I am NOT working, to look more like a girl. I am at a point in my life where I own more work boots and sneakers than any other footwear, and I climb ladders and dig holes and rake pine needles. I am quite sure that when I am not doing those sorts of tasks I could put a bit of effort into me, and look, while nothing like the gals on Sex In The City, at least a better version of me. I don’t even know if I could walk in pumps at this point in my life, but for fear of my daughter finally making good on her threat to send in my name to What Not To Wear, I think for this new year I am really going to focus on enhancing my female-ness when I am not doing boy work.
After I met that new friend in spring gym class, 31 years ago, I reinvented myself. My Aunt was a professional woman in banking and she was and still is a world-class shopper. She took me shopping, lots and lots of shopping, and for the next three years of high school, I dressed, well, every day. I wore heels and slacks and had handbags that matched my belts and pumps of various heights and lots of boots and skirts and never dressed like a boy again. In college I did a once a week internship at the Prosecutor’s office for a year and I dressed the part. Several judges and many attorneys thought I was a lawyer, not a college student putting in a 7 hour day for no pay. I wore suits, fabulous heels, carried a great bag, and “played” a part. I walked into the jail to do pre-trial interviews and just kind of pretended I was working and not getting credit for an independent study.
I think I can pretend again, to be something, more or else, than what I am now. I do love my work, and I love that I can do lots of things that other girls can’t do, but sometimes I feel like THIS is a part I don’t really want to play anymore. I am not prepared to give up my small business and stop work that pays well and that I love, but I also find myself asking the question, “is this what I want to be doing five years from now? Climbing ladders, painting trim, pressure washing decks, repairing sheetrock, planting trees?” I mean, I love it, but is it WHO I am?” I am sure that buying new shoes won’t make me better in the new year but I think it might make me feel better about myself. I’m willing to spend some money and try some on for size, just to find out…maybe it is the shoes…to start the next reinvention of me…