I took this picture at the height of summer. The small Jersey town I was visiting has an annual summer block party and this year’s theme was Halloween, which if you think about it is a great idea! The kids can wear their costumes without a warm coat, it stays light until bout 9 pm, and when the street is blocked off for a party the kids can have free reign of the street without fear of being hit by sugar-high drivers who didn’t see them because their dark coats made them invisible in the early hour of night.
What struck me about these sweet girls was the obvious archetypal references in their costumes. The FANTASY, the girly ballerina PRINCESS, the MYSTERIOUS gypsy. I’ve tried at different times to be one or the other of these “costumes” in searching for personal identity.
It was one of those moments in time when these darling fresh faces were before me asking if I would take their picture that I saw a few thousand years of women taking on roles and finding the appropriate costumes. Painting faces, adorning, playing, expressing while asking for candy and often getting it.
I asked them why they had chosen these costumes. Their answers? Because of the SPARKLES. Because of the PINK. Because it was PRETTY. Because it’s my FAVORITE.
I wondered at these rough diamonds of femininity from my vantage point of MIDDLE LIFE. What costumes was I putting on now? I am guilty of wearing clothes to evoke a certain impression or to match a mood or even to help create a mood. Today I will be street-chic art dealer dressed in black chatting with everyone who crosses my path. Tomorrow I will be incognito baseball cap college–student who doesn’t make eye contact, speaks to no one, and chews gum. The next day I will be earthy, grounded mama in jeans, boots and a silk pashmina reading the Economist in an herbal tea shop.
I have been the BALLERINA in my daily life, dancing my way through days like a dandelion scattered in the wind. I have been the GYPSY FORTUNE TELLER, predicting the future with gravitas and wisdom, or at least trying my best to do so.
I think I have even spent some time as the MERMAID – a fantasy, half human, able to breath in two worlds.
When I was five, I was a COWGIRL for Halloween and a cowgirl for the next five Halloweens. Then I was a PIRATE for a few years, a VAMPIRE, a SHIP CAPTAIN, and a WIZARD. The male roles appealed to me while growing up in a house full of women.
I see women in costume around me today: to my right is JUST-ENGAGED GIRL gabbing about her upcoming wedding (Bride? Now there’s a costume!) holding her left hand out for her friend’s approval. Then there is MONEYED SOPHISTICATED WOMAN with the perfect work-out suit, wearing diamonds, with hair more perfect than mine is even after leaving a salon. Sipping coffee in a corner is UNKEMPT COLLEGE GIRL in leggings and Ugg boots scanning the local weekly for something to do Saturday night. And then there are the sweat-pant clad MOMMIES speaking quickly to catch up on all the daily do’s before they have to return to their children.
And me? Today I am a mixture. No diamonds, but a nice watch. Reading glasses that while necessary also help to make me look more intellectual, hair in a messy up do – college-girl style. Havaiana flip flops, bright pink Gap T-shirt, black velour pants a-la J.Lo from 10 years ago. A mid-life mash up that makes me what? DISCOMBOBULATED BLOGGING LADY? Maybe I’ll go back to being a mermaid.
We’ve all got costumes. I’d like to know what some of yours are. And who do you identify with the most? The GYPSY, the BALLERINA or the MERMAID?
My thanks to the three girls in the photo. I wonder who they will be next year?