Friday, November 19, 2010

"Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then...

... where are you?" ~Fanny Brice

Day 22: Something you wish you hadn't done in your life

I don't know if it's just a local thing, but here in the Boston area, we have a store called Filene's, which gave birth to a bargain version of the store, Filene's Basement. (Or we used to - it's since gone into bankruptcy and they closed a ton of the stores.) I think most people (around here, anyways) know it best because of their annual Running of the Brides extravaganza, where hundreds of designer gowns are sold at deep discounts for one day only, causing local brides to sleep outside and stampede into the stores. Back when I was in high school, they also had a much less advertised, one day only sale on prom gowns, where every gown was $50-90. (Which, even 10+ years ago, was pretty cheap for a prom dress around here.)

The first year I was old enough to go to a prom was sophomore year, when we had a semi-formal. My mom had been searching the newspaper for the advertisement, finally saw that it was scheduled for the next Saturday, and woke up ridiculously early to drive me and my best friend Ann-Marie the 25 or so minutes away to our nearest store. There were a few mothers and daughters sitting in cars waiting, like us, but the line wasn't horrible, and there was no stampede. We both managed to find fabulous dresses in a relatively short amount of time, and then my mom took us out for breakfast.

Junior year, I never made it to the dress-buying stage, because I got really sick right before prom, and wasn't able to go. (Although I did have a date, with a boy who turned into a real prick when I told him I couldn't go, but whatever - I stayed home with pneumonia, watching a Star Wars (pre-prequel) marathon instead, and I see on Facebook that that boy has since had some "legal" troubles.)

By the time my Senior prom rolled around, I was determined to go: I had already missed out on a lot of "normal" high school experiences because of my illness, and I really was set on going. I was partially home tutored and so was absent from most of the social aspects of school, like lunches and clubs and such, and I saw the prom as really my last shot at being a normal teenager.

I was going to go by myself, like I'd done as a sophomore, but one of my girlfriends started talking to a mutual guy friend of ours and she decided that we would go together. Since I'd literally gone to school with him since Kindergarten, and he knew I wouldn't really be able to dance or anything, we were fine to go together as friends.

When the day of the sale came, I managed to find two dresses that I loved: a black and pink Audrey Hepburn-ish number, with a high collar and a ballgown's bottom and a sweetheart necked, all black dress with a little rhinestone bling right on the front. We wound up taking them both home, even though, at nearly $100, I knew I'd have to return one of them. I tried those two dresses on, almost daily, for weeks, trying to decide. They hung on the back of my door and I would try to picture myself at the prom, wearing one or the other of them, trying to figure out which I should keep.

The all black dress was great: I felt fancy and skinny and gorgeous in it.

But the pink and black? I loved it. I loved it because it was different, because it felt elegant and classy and classic. Because it was totally unlike anything I'd ever seen before, and definitely unlike anything I'd ever worn before.

You have to keep in mind that I barely ever worn anything other than sweats or jeans to school. I didn't wear make up or have the energy to do my hair for 45 minutes like all of the rest of the girls - the little umph that I had had to last me through the two required classes I had left to take, and then I would come home and collapse in bed. I was never fancy or fashionable, and it seemed to me - even now, but especially then - that in one of the many classes I was missing, they must have been teaching all those girls how to do their hair and makeup or how to put outfits and shoes and whatever together, because I never picked up those skills. Those are things that I am - to my younger sisters' dismay - horrible at. I wore what was easy, what was comfortable, and never understood fashion or how it was supposed to relate to me.

Before I got sick, I was pretty bad at it, but at least I tried. Afterwards? I was lucky to get to school at all, and if that meant I had to go in the same shirt I'd worn the day before, well then that's what it meant. (Thankfully, at my (all girls) college, this - or, even better, pajamas - would be the norm, rather than the exception, but I didn't know that then.)

So I kept trying the dresses on, kept marvelling at the fact that I was actually, kind of/sort of ... almost beautiful when I was dressed like this. I'd stopped feeling pretty when I'd stopped being able to dance. I hated my body and the way it wouldn't do what I wanted it to do, and I hated the 10-15 extra pounds I'd put on since I stopped being able to move freely. I just... was so unhappy. But then I actually thought I looked GOOD in those dresses, I actually thought I was pretty.

- And it hurts me that I am still so negative about my body, and that I hate it for all the things it can't do instead of loving it for what it does. It's better now then it was then, but God, 16 years later, you'd think I'd have made more progress on accepting that this is the way I am! -

But I also didn't have enough confidence in the way I felt to make the bolder choice - in the end, the pink and black dress went back to the store, because I didn't feel like a good judge of what would fit in with everybody else, and I absolutely did NOT want to stick out anymore than I already did ("You know, the girl who falls down a lot? She wore the oddest dress to the prom....") and so I went with the safe dress, the safe choice. And I looked fabulous in that dress, don't get me wrong - I was skinny and beautiful and elegant, and I had a great time with my friends, even though I did eat a box and a half of caffeine pills just to stay awake, and it was a fabulous night, that I don't regret at all.

But now, sometimes, when I have to decide something that I don't really feel all that confident about, I wonder: am I choosing the black dress, or the Audrey Hepburn dress? Am I passing on my (probably only) chance to feel like an elegant icon, because it might make me different, might make me stand out? As somebody who hates standing out, it's hard to choose the pink and black, hard to pick the thing that'll get me noticed.

But it might just be worth it, too.

And that's something I wish I had done then. And I hope I'd do it differently if I had the chance again.

Day 01 Something you hate about yourself.
Day 02 Something you love about yourself.
Day 03 Something you have to forgive yourself for.
Day 04 Something you have to forgive someone for.
Day 05 Something you hope to do in your life.
Day 06 Something you hope you never have to do.

Day 07 Someone who has made your life worth living for.
Day 08 Someone who made your life hell, or treated you like shit.
Day 09 Someone you didn’t want to let go, but just drifted.
Day 10 Someone you need to let go, or wish you didn’t know.
Day 11 Something people seem to compliment you the most on.
Day 12 Something you never get compliments on.
Day 13 A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough ass days. (write a letter.)
Day 14 A hero that has let you down. (letter)
Day 15 Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it.
Day 16 Someone or something you definitely could live without.
Day 17 A book you’ve read that changed your views on something.
Day 18 Your views on gay marriage.
Day 19 What do you think of religion? Or what do you think of politics?
Day 20 Your views on drugs and alcohol.
Day 21 (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?
Day 22 Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.
Day 23 Something you wish you had done in your life.
Day 24 Make a playlist to someone, and explain why you chose all the songs. (Just post the titles and artists and letter)
Day 25 The reason you believe you’re still alive today.
Day 26 Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why?
Day 27 What’s the best thing going for you right now?
Day 28 What if you were pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?
Day 29 Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.
Day 30 A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself

1 comment:

Crazed Nitwit said...

I'm awed by your courage to even think about Filene's basement bridal insanity!!!!