As a woman of age (I'm now over 35 and that is all that needs to be said!) life has made some pretty indelible impressions on me: never spit in a well; it's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all; and there is never any good reason at all to wear panty hose with open-toed shoes. Despite all that emblazoned wisdom and my seasoned life experience, I am always shocked and amazed when something shocks and amazes me. That happened yesterday as I was standing in the checkout line at the Dollar Tree. I'm a big fan of the Dollar Tree for the simple reason that I can still feel like I have some buying power even when in all actuality I am broke. However, standing behind me in the dollar store was a woman, a "mature" woman whom I can only guess was attempting to recapture her youth through the creative use of apparel. Sporting a flouncy, barely-there plaid skirt that didn't quite cover her buttcheeks, a pair of bright pink stilletto heels with hearts and kissy lips all over them and a t-shirt with the words "tell your daddy I said hi" written in pink glitter. Her hair was cut in that sleek graduated bob, was platinum on the top and dark brown underneath, her purse was no more than an armpit earring and sported pink and aqua hearts, she was wearing frosty lip gloss and glittery eye shadow and talking on her rhinestone encrusted cell phone while chomping her gum. Now how do I know that she was not some young, spirited high school or sorority girl? Two words: crow's feet only magnified by the fact that her glittery eyeshadow had seeped into the lines and crevices and was now acting as a neon sign screaming "mature woman desperate to be a teenager." And then there was the language she was using. Everytime something astonished her, which was quite often, she would say "OMG" which is text message speak for "Oh my god - an expression of disbelief."
Did I judge her? Probably...but I swear on all that is sacred that I only judged her for her own benefit. You see, that woman is of my generation - we survived the 80's and perhaps we have been scarred by it. Big hair, strange and downright ugly clothing, telephones that required cords and stationary states of being - it was nothing like these kids have it now. But looking at her reminded me of something: first of all, it is never okay for a woman over the age of 18 to wear a shirt that makes any kind of reference to her "daddy". No there are no exceptions, it's just WRONG! Second, being okay with who and what you are has become such a rarity and this woman really brought that point home to me. Attempting to fit in with a generation that she should have been attempting to lead and influence, this woman was screaming one thing to me: I am so unhappy with where I am at in my life. Did I read too much into her? Possibly, but the impression that was made I can assure you is indelible. I am all for self-expression. I am all for being who you are and even for spending most of your life discovering who you are. It's a journey worth taking even if it takes a lifetime. But trying to recapture your youth by turning yourself into a cartoon character is walking backward on the path.
I suppose what I am trying to say is this: At age 37, I realize that what I had in my youth was not a permission to be a spoiled princess or freedom to do whatever I wanted without any consequences. What I had in my youth was a freedom to explore and express myself, to break away from conformity, and an anticipation for what the future might bring for me. At age 37, recapturing my youth so much more simple that dressing like a little pop tart, it's simply a matter of regaining that anticipation for what the future may hold.