DELVING BETWEEN THE TOES OF LIFE....I AM TOEJAM


2002-10-23 - 8:36 p.m.

The first question people ask me now that I have arrived home and have made my reappearance into my everyday life has been, ďWhat did you see?Ē

I will stand the for a moment, going through my entire trip again in my mind, trying to think of one thing I can tell them that I saw. I know they are looking for the answer, ďOh, well of course I saw the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre...Ē but in truth those things were just mere architecture to me. Sure, it was beautiful if not kind of surreal to me, those things were worth seeing in the light of day (or night as was most often the case). But the honest truth of the matter was that I did not take those things away with me, those things were not what I saw on my trip. What I did see was a very close up and ugly picture of myself. I saw myself in a very basic light for the first time as is the case when one finds oneself standing on a grimy street in Italy not knowing more than four words of language and not knowing one person in the entire country.

It was early afternoon when I found myself there and found the answer to the question that had been nagging at me since I arrived on French soil a week or two before. That question being, ďWhy do I feel so ugly and bad about myself here?Ē The answer is simply this. I am good at appearances and I was powerless in Europe, I could not, with my lack of language, embellish myself enough to make myself visible. When I found myself in that basic light, just a body amid so many I realized that without my certain personality traits that I easily flaunt in my native country, I am just a plain old girl stuck in the middle of a lot of other plain people. Here, in the US, in my town, in my state, I stick out. I stick out because I will make my presence known in public places, I am a nice person, I will hold the door for people, I will make jokes with people in the aisles of the grocery store. And I stick out because I am not from here. When I say that I mean that I was not meant to live in a small village in Michigan where most people think Brie is just a crazy name some people name their children. I was born and raised in small town America but I fought it every step of the way. My happiest moments were the weekends when I was whisked away to my Grandparents house for a weekend spent lounging at the country club pool and having Sunday brunch. And I looked good because of that. I have an inbred sort of poise about me and that is what makes me stand out. I am regal, but only if I have some sort of power in the situation. In Europe I had no power, I was at the mercy of every single person there. Even getting a loaf of bread was intimidating and made me feel like an idiot. So I lost my power, I lost my poise and I lost whatever confidence I had in myself because I became an anonymous American. Worse, I became just an anonymous person because no one would know I was American because I didnít speak. I didnít have any identifying aspects of my being to make me stand out in the crowd and I hated it.

That is the ugly part of my revelations. I realized that I hated not being the center, or at least close to the center, of attention. I realized that a lot of what and who I am is based on appearance. And I created that. I wonder now if the reason I donít get close to people is because I would then have to show them the honest part of my being which isnít so wonderful. I can talk to you, I can converse with you better than a lot of people, but I am not as smart as I will have you think. I can manipulate any conversation away from whatever subject it is that I donít know about so it seems that I know something about everything. I am plain looking but I know exactly how to do my hair, my makeup, how to wear clothes so I can take your breath away the moment I walk into a room. Iíll tell you that I do all the work on my house by myself, which is true, but you donít know that my house has been torn up and in a state of half repair for the last four years because Iíll never invite you over to see it. Sure, I do the work but most times I end up screwing it up and then give up mid project. Everything that I am that makes people here adore me is kind of false, or at least not the whole truth, and that bothers me. I donít tell people that I spend most of time after work staring blankly at my computer screen, instead I reply when asked what I do after work, ďI write.Ē That is intriguing and I know it. Itís not a lie, I do write every day, but probably not as prolifically as I would have people think.

So thatís what I saw on my trip. I saw myself without my glittery adornments, I saw myself as basic and as raw as I have ever seen myself. I realized the things that are important in my life, the real things, the attempt at writing, the cooking, my cats...and I also saw that even my secret lack of embellishment that people donít see can make me an individual as well. The real me is the person that sits here, in this chair that Iíve been meaning to recover for three years, dressed in pink pajamas with her hair all matted and mis-matched socks on.

I had a great trip by the way. And the BOY is absolutely perfect and if it werenít for those inconvenient 4,000 miles between us I would spend every spare moment I have glued to his skin. Sigh.

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