I remember it very clearly. It was Chinese New Year, this year: to celebrate, I wore red pants and a black and white polka dotted shirt and a red and brown cardigan. I looked down at myself and thought: Who let me out of the house like this? Luckily, I had not left my house. I was pacing in my backyard, smoking a cigarette, making circles and circles. I looked down at myself and had an epiphany: I’m fucking weird.
This is funny because for most of my life, I’ve tried to be weird, and then one day, I just became weird.
This is funny because for most of my life, I’ve really tried my best to fit in. In elementary school, my brother bought me GAP clothes so I could look like the rest of the kids, as opposed to the clothes my mom picked out for me, which mismatched patterns and colors. That is, she had no fashion and my brother did and so he made me his little Barbie and played dress up. In fifth grade, he bought me a Dooney & Burke purse. Do you remember how hot those were in the 90s? Probably not, because the bulk of HTML’s readership were likely born in the 90s. But the point is, my brother wanted me to fit in, so I wanted to fit in.
In high school, my brother bought me more GAP and Abercrombie & Fitch and Banana Republic and I dressed like the other kids. I did cheerleading and shit too. He bought me a Louis Vuitton purse and told me to rush Tri-Delt when I got to college.
But the fitting in high school wasn’t really very nice. In fact, it was mean. Girls are mean. Girls are petty. I dislike girls, except for the ones that I love, which are all of them.
But in high school, I started working at this hipster California-style restaurant and all the other employees were flailing artist-musician types and suddenly, I thought that was cool. My brother thought that was cool too. So he started buying me clothes from Urban Outfitters and Buffalo Exchange and I started going thrifting on my own.
By college, I was hipster-bohemian. I was deep and wrote deep poetry.
Then, later in college, I was back to the GAP and unobtrusivity.
Then, I don’t know what happened or where I am anymore.
Now, my brother no longer dresses me. I can still fit into most of my clothes from high school and college, but for the most part, now I have to play the role of “adult” because I’m a professor.
Except: I still look young and I dress like I think I’m still young—and cool. Only I’m not. I’m a thirty-something professor and nutty. I play my roles well.
Now, as an adult, I mismatch patterns like my mom used to. Only, in my head, it looks good.
But what I wanted to talk about is: when did I go from wanting to “normal” to wanting to be “weird” to actually being “weird”? Because there is a trajectory, only without reason. Momentum: there’s plenty of that. I am always changing, my style is always changing, by the season and by the whim. When my sister died, I inherited all her fancy business clothes, so I have suits and silk shirts and flattering slacks. I pair those with thrift store finds. I mean, I look weird. Or, maybe I look good. Maybe I think it’s fashionable when it’s just flat out weird.
I’m using clothes as a metaphor here, obv.
But I really thought I was “passing.” I didn’t think other people—namely, my colleagues—could tell I was “weird.” I couldn’t tell I was “weird.” But now, I guess I just swallow it and wear whatever the fuck I want.