Wednesday, September 1, 2010
The Costume Box
As I slept, I dreamed of a play. There was a large beautiful stage made of polished wood and surrounded by plush red drapes. I was designing the production, telling my two actors about the story and that they would have large parts in the drama. The performers were my daughter and her best friend and they were thrilled to be included in the theatrical event.
"We each have a costume box backstage with our name on the outside. Go through your box and pick out your favorite." I told the excited young women. I approached the medium sized vessel with my name written in a lovely script. Before opening it I pictured amazing gowns with sparkles and dramatic colors housed inside. Reaching for the first garment I found a dress made with fabric from an outfit my mom had stitched for me when I was 7 or 8. Just underneath was a short set worn around the age of 4 and the rest were made of cloth from a toy elephant my mom had made and other outfits she had created in place of items we would have gotten from a thrift store, since our finances were pretty constrained during my youth.
Disappointment crowded my thoughts as I heard the two girls giggling with joy over their own costumes found within their boxes. Growing frustrated I pulled all the clothes out of the container and looked to the bottom for something amazing. It was empty of anything that would have represented my initial fantasies of bright colors and sparkles. My costumes had been constructed in my youth, not by me but by my mom.
The dream drifted away and I lay with my eyes closed pondering the message. The boxes had represented the vision of how we three women perceived ourselves. Mine had carried a collection of items that were no longer wearable nor reflective of who I am today. I have become a woman who craves bright colors and sequins. No, I am not heading towards a career as a drag queen, though a short stint would be a hoot I'm sure. My spirit, my essence has been erupting out of the facade that had been carefully constructed for decades.
This person or that had may have said, "I know who YOU are", and been partially accurate in the moment. But the layers of "truisms" had hidden the actual fact of who I am. I became a false representation of myself to survive and in most instances I survived well. So why change my costume? Because it no longer fits.