Late yesterday afternoon I found myself fretting in my closet. What to wear? WHAT TO WEAR??!!
Thoughts of The Cool Police shoving me off the sidewalk runway of Manhattan, forcing me to sit on a filthy curb as they wrote me up a ticket for Being Too Mumsy In The Big Apple ran through my mind as I dug though the contents of my meager wardrobe.
I wore nothing but a sleek, slimming pair of very basic black pants, nude bra, and a face shellacked with cover-up when I found a top recently bought in the Anthropologie Clearance section during a solo trip to the mall in search of sneakers for Mr T. Behold, the Deletta Lariat tank in all it’s braided, tucked, draped beauty:
I tossed it on and immediately felt better. Next up: accessories. I pulled all my jewelry trays out and walked from closet to bathroom to closet to bathroom with different combinations of earrings and bracelets to no avail. Then I remembered Her.
I had a coupon during a sale and came across this necklace at Lord & Taylor. I had to have her. These colors are pretty much the best colors for me, though I simply don’t wear things like this. But it was love at first sight, so I got my mitts on the Lucky Brand ‘Love In’ Reversible Bib Necklace and tucked her away for the day I was brave enough to put her on.
I pulled out the 2 earring options I had in, slapped on this behemoth of an accessory, decided to be fashionably brave and ran down the stairs with my clutch in one hand and lipgloss in another to begin my first night out in a long time.
Why was I so nervous about getting dressed, for goodness sakes?
Why was I anxious about going out after dark?
Why did I feel so rusty at applying foundation and a smokey eye?
Why did the act of getting put together get me so damn excited?
Let me back up a moment, and explain….
When I lived in Boston I went out every week. I love to go dancing, I love to walk through a city as it buzzes with energy at night, I love mingling with all sorts of people. I love getting dressed up, whether alone or with my girlfriends as we’d blast the radio and dance while deciding on which top to wear and put on each others’ makeup.
About 11 years ago I moved to the NYC area. I worked in the city, so I got to live this dressed-nicely, walking around Manhattan lifestyle 5 days a week. And of course I was going out at night, too. Dancing, drinks, Broadway shows, off-Broadway shows, champagne bars, parties, charity events, club promotions, just walking around different parts of the city to soak it all in.
Then I got married, popped out 2 kids in less than 2 years, and moved to the suburbs when the kids were 6 months & 2.5yo.*
*Cue the stretch marks, saggy boobs, body shape that shifted from one unappealing flop-fest to another on a weekly basis making clothes shopping a depressing nightmare, udder exhaustion making me unable to stay awake to watch 10pm tv shows, a friend base consisting of other really really tired people, and a total loss of contact with any current news, trends or information that didn’t have to do with making it through another day with a baby or two in tow.
I was under that haze for a long time. ** The haze has a tendancy to hit me still at times, and sometimes I just don’t feel pretty. When you don’t feel good like that, you don’t have the mental capacity to make the effort to pull yourself together and get out. Go have fun. Feel young again. The longer you let this cycle go on, the more Frumpy Mummy you risk at becoming. It takes deliberate effort to break this cycle. If you don’t, the only place you’ll end up is alone in your kitchen wearing Mom Jeans and a kitten-applique sweatshirt wondering ‘what kids these days are doing on those fan-dangled Smart phone thingies‘.
That is not a good place to end up.
** If the schools want to educate kids on birth control, I say skip having them carry frigging eggs around in a basket, and let them move in with parents of young kids/babies for a week. They will realize how absolutely uncool you become once a child has sprung from your loins, how much pee and poop (and often spit-up/vomit) you deal with on an hourly basis, and the fact that all the attention kids need take away the time one needs to do important things like watch You Tube videos of Justin Beiber blowing out his hair or download the MTV Music Awards nominee playlist to their iPods. They will cling to abstinence like their very life and coolness factor depends on it.
I am now in better shape (after a year of hard work), with a better wardrobe (oh-so-slowly I am building it during sales or via various discount fashion websites like www.6pm.com ), and have a husband who is totally willing to stay with the kids to let me go out with my friends pretty much whenever I want.
So I am trying to get out more often. Or so I say. Or have been saying since last winter.
Last March I went into the city with girlfriends to see Wicked, the Musical.
And…um…yeah. I don’t think I went out in the city with my friends since.
The summer flew by. I did get out locally a couple times, but it’s just not the same. Fun? Absolutely (that has more to do with the company of my hilarious friends). But I really enjoy being in Manhattan. I just do. I grew up in a small New England town and never felt at home there. I love the feeling the city gives me, I feel good there. Right. It’s stupid that I’m not there more often, which is why I told myself in 2009 that I needed to go back more often. Which, um, didn’t really work out as planned.
Fast-forward to now. October. 2010.
A good friend of mine (V) is in an new, award-winning cabaret group. I was lamenting to Hubby that I hadn’t seen them perform yet, they have a show going on that only had 2 dates left, and I didn’t know how I’d get to go.
He said “Um, why don’t you just call someone and go?”
Genius! I knew I married him for more than his good looks.
The short and sweet of it was that yesterday at 4pm I pulled into another friend’s (A) driveway, walked into her kitchen *** , and after a couple minutes of catching up with her husband, she and I walked out of the house kid-fricking-free.
*** Girlfriend, I know you’re silently reading this…so while I’m thinking of it you probably should lock that door so strange women can’t just wander in unannounced. Just give me a key or something, I’ll make more noise getting in so you’ll know its just me making coffee before I come find you, not a burglar stealing your stuff.
As soon as she looks at me, A says “Wow! You’re wearing makeup and everything!”
If this doesn’t tell you that I don’t get out enough, that someone – one of the nicest people ever who carries genuine compliments in her pockets daily – who sees me on a regular basis notices I look good for a change, then I don’t know what else to say.
Mind you, she looked damn good herself. So good, in fact, that one didn’t have the use the “For A Mom” Clause. ****
**** You’re not familiar with this clause? Please allow me to show you the difference:
“Wow! You look great!”
“Wow! You look great….for a Mom.” (loosely translated means “for someone whose body and sanity has been ravaged by children, you look pretty good. You know, considering the battered materials you’re working with”)
We head into the city, and pull into a parking lot.
I roll my window down and the parking guy comes to the window. I automatically say “How you doing?” and he says…something….which I interpret as “how long will you be here?”.
I’m unsure so I turn to A and ask her, she’s unsure, and the guy starts saying “What? You get this all the time?? You say nothing??”
Now I am confused, because why would people ask me how long I’m gonna be all the time?
I said “Didn’t you just ask me how long I’m gonna be?”
He leans towards the window, laughs and says “You asked me how I’m doing. I said my night just got much better now that you’re here. But you pretty girls must get that all the time”.
I am so out of touch with looking nice, with going out in the city where everyone compliments everyone (trust me when I say, we were not the first ladies to get this exact compliment from this exact guy), that I don’t hear or know how to respond to a simple off-hand compliment by a parking attendant. I’m fumbling with my cash to pay him while my brain’s creaky wheels turn in attempt to process the compliment and come up with some acceptable reply.
I stammer “Oh…uh..I..um…thanks…we’ll..uh…be a few hours” and bolt from the car.
Very suave of me, no? *****
***** Please note I handle compliments much better when implied, not actually spoken (like in this case, the one time I was flirted with in 2010, which is noted because when being flirted with becomes an annual event you want to ensure others know it can actually happen) because I easily embarrass, despite my desire to know whether I am still desirable, and because I am a stammering idiot at best when it comes to interacting with strangers.
The rest of the night goes compliment-free, so there’s no more awkward moments for me to address ******. I felt like I looked good, the cabaret show was amazing (OMG hearing my friend V sing professionally for the 1st time was emotional for me, she is just so talented!), the walking around was fun, the Mexican food was delish, the people I was surrounded with were funny and interesting and made my night.
****** The necklace did recieve a couple compliments, but it is pretty fabulous on it’s on merit so those were taken on it’s behalf, in stride.
This morning I woke up tired and happy, promising myself to take myself (and my fabulous necklace) out more often. To get back into the city once a month (hopefully) even if it’s just to see an indie film that’s not playing near me out here in the ‘burbs. I’m glad I don’t live there now, I don’t think I’d want to with my kids, but I’m glad I am close enough to enjoy it whenever I want.
I just need to make a habit of dressing nicely and making the effort to do the things I really enjoyed before having kids. I’m out of excuses for being rusty at being Me.
Are you rusty, too, about something you used to do/enjoy?
Do you have a plan to get back to doing it?