she seemed glad to see me when i appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her i began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl.
-to kill a mockingbird
it happened on wednesday. standing in line for my frappe. white chocolate mocha with a shot of caramel. at a new coffee shop. across the street from the post office where my dad works. a little lunch break reprieve.
i felt a tiny hand on my shoulder, and turned around. a middle-aged woman, with graying hair, modest slacks and an oversized sweater looked through her glasses into my eyes. "i just don't know how you do it," she spoke to me in her southern voice not unlike my own. "those high heels. don't they hurt your feet?"
i looked down at my shiny brown pumps, a little bit of toe cleavage emerged, then sunk back into the leather, as the tips of the shoes made a sharp point. she was right. they were uncomfortable. too high. too pointy. a bit too small. "i don't know..." i trailed off. "the things you do for fashion, i guess!" i smiled to close the conversation, grabbed my sweating coffee, and hurried out the door, careful to walk precisely, to demonstrate to her that i could, indeed, navigate my way on the cobblestone wearing these awful shoes.
it happened again on thursday.
i came home yesterday evening and even before kissing robert or rubbing pablo's ears, i unzipped my dress. and took a deep breath. for the first time all day. a real, good, from-the-gut inhale. and it felt delicious.
because all day, i had squeezed my upper body into this outfit that hugged me, squeezed me, controlled me.
robert just shook his head. "i don't know why you girls torture yourself like this" he said as he helped me lift the dress over my curls.
but what he doesn't know, what he can never realize, is that i do it because i want to.
because that dress was from h&m. it was silver and purple. flowy and ruffly on the bottom. only seven dollars on sale. one of my favorite new finds. heck, one of my favorite new dresses period. and i was willing to suffer a little for it, i suppose.
because femininity is sacred, and takes many different forms.
for some, it's sinking into a bubble bath, nose deep. it can be cooking. dancing. wearing your husband's button-down shirt. rocking babies.
it can also be playing sports. getting muddy. dirty. sweaty.
for me, it's all these things. and more.
and on some days, especially days like this week--with all the stress over family health, starting graduate school, and work pressure that came with it--yes, it was high heels and a terribly uncomfortable but ultimately beautiful dress.
and who cares if no one understands or appreciates it besides me? that's what makes it special.
and, i suppose, pretty skillful.