Thursday, September 16, 2010

Who Am I?

Very often the simple act of swapping your lipstick color (or moving the furniture)is enough to satisfy that need for some kind of change. There are other times when nothing less than a complete "Makeover" will do. We are experiencing that time right now. We is a broad term, meaning me. I say we because apparently, according to my closet, I am a number of different people. Let me explain. I went to the mall yesterday. I say Mall meaning really just a group of stores. Mall means you need to get to Albany. The stores in Amsterdam were enough for my needs yesterday, because the plumber was scheduled to be here for a lengthy period of time. Rather than subject myself to the dangers of being told the water has been shut off (hence, no bathroom facilities), I just removed myself from the scene of construction and went browsing. Shopping by yourself is very different than shopping with anyone else. It allows you the time to be sidetracked without explanation, and to really put in the necessary time to decide what it is you want, change your mind, change your department and actually try things on, which is something I am guilty of. Eyeballing a garment and deciding that it will work. Most of the time it WILL fit when I bring it home, but flatter? That is another story. Anyway, with all this free time on my hands, (and never needing to use the facilities by the way-how ironic!), I shopped. And it was in the store that I finally asked myself the question "who am I?" According to my closet,I am a number of people. "Professional" has already been weeded out, I did that in 2008 when we officially "retired". Those power suits and uncomfortable shoes were on their way to Goodwill faster than you can say "Outta here". But the rest of it? I have accumulated a few items that do not define any particular style, and that is my confusion. Who (or what?) does my wardrobe reflect, and is it accurate? The truth is, I don't know. I don't know which pieces I should be adding because I'm not sure which pieces I want to hang on to. I have Artist Executive, Showtime Presenter, Committee member, Farmer, Aging Hippy (actually, just hippy; do hippies ever age? I don't think so, It's just a look that gains a wider waistband as the years progress) Although I recognize that all looks have worked for me at one time or another, I must recognize that I am at a crossroads. The real commitment in life comes not when you leave a job or take a hiatus, but when you actually release the wardrobe that went along with your previous position. It's a scary thing to decide that you no longer need an excess of "Showtime presenter" (reflecting my most recent position as Executive Director). How many evenings will I spend announcing the upcoming program and pointing out the emergency exits to a captive audience? Not too many I'm thinking. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I'm not sure. That is the dilemma: you're in a store trying to purchase some items that will move you into the upcoming season (which apparently is barreling down faster I expected - 48 degrees - WTF?)and you can't decide if what you're buying is actually what is needed by who you are, and who you are is becoming more and more difficult to define. For the first time in my life (and we're going back a ways here) the true answer is "nobody." And while that is a frightening thought, it is also very freeing. The meaning is this: I am responsible to myself, for myself, without commitment or responsibility. No one is expecting me at the job this morning, no one is looking for any type of fulfillment from me. Obviously, the family resides outside definition. I am forever a Mother and a Wife (God willing and if the creek don't rise). But for right now, my employment/unemployment is not defined by need, but by desire. That has never happened to me, in my entire life. Wow. What a heady feeling. If I want to do absolutely nothing today, tomorrow, and for more than the usual two-week vacation from regular employment I am free to do so. Damn! Although I haven't a clue what I would LIKE to do at this moment, and certainly not a clue about what I would wear doing that unknown thing; it is a moment of truth for me. What do I really WANT to do? ???????? I gotta get back to you on that one. I am a writer, by choice and by need. That doesn't require a wardrobe. In the spirit of change I have chopped all my hair off (not all really, I left a couple of inches). This is working for me. The real color will reveal itself in another haircut. It is an easy enough fix if I don't like it. Fortunately for me, it grows back fast. Always the diplomat, I purchased a pair of skinny jeans (the legs are skinny, the size is not) and a big oversized "boyfriend" shirt. A chiffon blouse with a bow in front in a multi-colored water-bleed type of print, with gray slacks. A big bulky full-size sweater to wear with leggings and boots. And flannel pajamas. I think I have covered all possible needs in the next few months. I can be whoever I want to be, and have the right outfit to go with it. Because really, what is the first question every woman asks when invited to a function. "What should I wear?" I am at that age where you do give thought to what your final "outfit" will be. When Jerry bought his last suit, his comment that "you can bury me in this one, unless you go with the uniform", horrified me. And yet, I find myself pondering that thought every now and again. I'm not so defeatist as to answer it, or leave any type of directives. That makes it too close. But I will say this, my tap shoes are still where I leave them all the time, in the back of my car. Just in case you're looking for them. :)

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