Saturday, January 29, 2011

Who Is This Material Girl?

In college, I had a job building sets, doing props, and being stage manager for a local high school, so my car frequently looked like I had just robbed a hardware store. Although I wasn't in a sorority, I knew a lot of frat guys, and I got asked to formals on a regular basis because I loved to dance and I didn't get embarrassingly drunk.

One day, these seemingly dissociated facts collided: I had picked up my go-to little black dress from the dry cleaners, the one I'd gotten on sale for under $50 and worn four times already, and had loaded in some lumber to build platforms, and on my way down the highway, I thought, "This is exactly me."

It was the juxtaposition: lumber and lace (well, velvet and taffeta, but that's not the point...). It symbolized being practical, flexible, and fun, and I loved the image of myself as a strong, tough, capable girl who wasn't afraid to gussy up now and then, but who didn't take her gussying up too terribly seriously.

I was a fancy girl growing up: I begged to wear extravagant costumes to school, and my favorite part of the circus was the sparkles...

And I was a tomboy growing up: I would come home bleeding from a scrape on my knee, and when Mom asked what had happened, I would have no idea, but maybe when I fell out of that tree...

But by high school, I had decided that spending money was best used on entertainment, travel, and decadent meals with friends. The memories were what I wanted, the connections with other human beings, not "frivolous" material things.
And yet, this week, I have been delighted by lingerie, and chocolate, and shoes. And it has made me ask, on a surprisingly deep level, "Who am I now?"

Well, first, the lingerie and the chocolate...
My first gifts to my PO Box! A hypnosis caller who loves to please me (he asked for it, I promise...) asked me two days in a row what would make me happy, and I reluctantly came up with lingerie and chocolate. I'd open the box and show you the pretty chocolate morsels, but ... well... it's partially ravaged, so I'd rather just stick with the elegant closed box.

I'll be taking pictures with the super-happy sparkly red top when my new camera arrives. Yay fun!

And now that these have arrived, apparently, it was time to indulge me further, so he told me that he was ordering me this from Secrets In Lace in black:

I love. It. So. Much. 

Like, my heart skips a beat when I think of wearing it, I love it so much.

Like, I need to upgrade my body wash to make my skin luxurious enough to deserve to wear it, I love it so much.

Like, I need new shoes, and new panties, and stockings and a bra and a haicut and to get my eyebrows waxed...

I had this chat exchange with a friend from college about it:

Galiana: I think this robe will always mark a turning point for me
Her: How so?
Galiana: The day I finally embraced my Inner Femme
Galiana: I've been such a tomboy, so practical, and loved that self-identification
Galiana: and something about spending real money on frilly things... I've shied away
Galiana: but I get it now, or I get it more than I have before
Galiana: the human being as art
Galiana: or rather, the human being as a canvas
Galiana: and the fabrics and the textures as the paints
Galiana: and that the beauty has value in and of itself
It amuses me that it took me two decades of adulthood to embrace the celebration of fabrics and colors and textures that I celebrated so naturally at age 6. Somewhere in the middle, avoiding "materialism" was temporarily more important to me than enjoying something luxurious if it is available to me.

I know, I bought new lingerie for my photo shoot in September for my 40th birthday, but those were play things, of lesser value, not objects of quality and art to be admired and treasured. And they were for work, so it was justified. They didn't make me feel like that robe is going to.

It makes no sense that I would value a dinner with friends that cost $139, and yet, the prospect of owning a robe that cost $139 has required serious introspection, to the point of even having to redefine myself a bit... I understand giving a gift of luxury to someone else, and I've done it, but it is taking some emotional growth on my part to accept such gifts for myself. 

Well, hello there, Inner Diva. I'm sorry I haven't properly attended to you for so long. Please enjoy the sunlight and fresh air and chocolates. I hope you stay a while.

I'm going to have to reorganize my closet, aren't I?

I will never value things more than I value relationships. But, if it just so happens that a relationship can be enhanced by my acquisition of things, well then, how can I say no?

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