Last night, I had a choice. I was invited to two events, and while I could have gone to both, that’s not how I roll. I am an introvert by nature, so it’s rare that I go to one big event, let alone two.
First up was my 20th high school reunion. I didn’t go to my 5th year reunion, nor my 10th or 15th. You see, I was an outcast in high school. People from several different cliques talked to me, but I didn’t have many friends. I was very lonely in high school. I didn’t feel like I fit in. Even when I was involved in theater (as when I was a secretary/pirate girl in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, at least I think that’s what the first picture is from. I had blocked it from my mind and didn’t remember I’d been in the thing until I saw the pic on someone’s FB photo wall), I felt apart from everyone else. Oh, sure, I participated in the green room shenanigans and the backstage tomfoolery, but I also remember sitting outside of the green room, reading a book. Yes, reading a book is my default escape position. I have spent many hours comforting myself by whisking myself away into faraway lands provided for me in the pages of a novel.
I didn’t want to go to my graduation. I didn’t care about rituals and such, and I certainly wasn’t feeling sentimental about leaving Irondale High School. I only went because my parents really wanted to go (same with my college graduation), and I refused to go to the all-night party afterwards. Once I was out of high school, I didn’t keep in contact with anyone from school. I reinvented myself in order to attend college, and I was more than happy to shed the skin I had worn in high school.
However, even though the outside was the same, the inside hadn’t changed all that much. I was nominally an Evangelical Christian when I entered St. Olaf College. I didn’t curse, drink, smoke, do drugs, or have sex. I thought all of them were sinful and would shoot me straight to hell. Quit laughing! It’s true. The weirdest thing I did was cut my hair every time I had a break from school and get my ears pierced every time I was bored after I couldn’t cut my hair any longer–or rather, any shorter. I had really short hair back then, and I ended up with nine hole in two ears (five in my left and four in my right). I was pretty skinny. The picture to the left is from my cousin’s wedding six years after college, but I was about the same skinniness then (second time I lost a ton of weight). My hair, of course, was much longer by then, but the rest of me looked about the same.
During college, my inhibitions fell one by one. First, religion. Let’s face it. I never really had a firm grip on that one, anyway. Then, my virginity (at a relatively late age of 20). Then, I started having the occasional drink. I might have been occasionally cursing by then, but I couldn’t swear to it (get it???). When I was in China as part of my semester in Asia, I smoked for the first time (and got stinking drunk, I might add). I smoked roughly fifteen cigarettes in one night. Needless to say, I was riding the roller coaster of nausea for that night. Hm. I remember that two male friends, a female friend, and I stripped to our underwear and went wading in a pond that same night. Ew. We were lucky we didn’t get sick.
Anyway, I first tried marijuana about four years after college. That’s it for drugs. I first came out as bi around the same time. I stripped during a performance piece I had written. I did threesomes. I got tattoos, four of them in all. I firmly lost my religion. I decided not to have children nor get married (the former in college, the latter more recently). I have sent photos of myself in various stages of undress via the intertoobz. I struggled with my thoughts on monogamy for me and for people in general.
So. I got the notice that my 20 th was tonight. I had no intention of going because let’s face it, I hated high school the first time I was there–why would I want to go back again? Still, I made a note of it in the back of my mind. It was possible that there would be a few people going whom I’m like to see again (there were), but I could keep in touch with those people regardless of whether I attended the reunion or not.
Fastforward a few months. Choolie invited me to a party since she reached two major milestones this month: 20 years in Minneapolis and 15 years of marriage to her hubby. The party started at 10 pm and was slated to go until 3 am. Now, as my dear readers know, I am something of a night owl. However, my days of partying until three in the morning are behind me–or so I thought. I mean, I was usually up at that time, anyway, so why not? I told Choolie that I would be there, barring something coming up with my mom being home. I also said with a laugh that I would have to get the car back home by nine the next morning because my mom would need it to get to church.
So. I had committed 75% to going to Choolie’s. As the time grew nearer, I thought about my reunion. I could have still gone, but why? I mean, most of the people I know on FB from high school are straight, married, have children, are devout Christians, and some of them are Republicans to boot. I have nothing in common with these people. Never did, and most likely, never will. I look at the pictures from other people who went, and it’s as if I’m looking at a scene from a movie.
If I went, it would go something like this.
Other Person: So, Minna, I’m a married mom with two children. I belong to the Shining Light of Pure Goodness Church. I work as a sales manager for Target. I like to watch American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. What do you do?
Minna: (long pause, big slug of bourbon). I write.
OP: Oh? How interesting. What do you write?
Minna: (longer pause, another shot of bourbon). Stories about fucking Death.
OP: (hurriedly). Um, so, are you married? Children?
Minna: Nope! I decided a long time ago not to get married or have children. I have many reasons including that I’m bi and nonmonogamous.
OP: Um, er….
Minna: Yup! I’m also agnostic, and I have four tattoos.
OP: Oh, look! There’s Mary Smith! I must see what she’s been up to. So nice chatting with you!
OP leaves as fast as she can.
In reality, I probably would have fudged and obfuscated about the real me. I am quite adept at it, but it didn’t sound like a fun way to spend the evening to me. To be fair, I have no idea how the actual conversations would have went. I mean, who knows? There may have been some freakier people than I at the reunion. I am highly skeptical about that, but I acknowledge that it might be true. The bottom line is, I had no desire to find out. I thought about sitting around with people from my past, and it had no appeal. The only thing we have in common is that we all went to the same school. That’s it.
Now, as you know, I am not a very sentimental person in general when it comes to places. Once I leave a place, I’m gone. This is doubly true when it comes to my life before the age of 18. High school was one of the worst times in my life. I knew that if I went to the reunion, I would regress to the person I was back then. Why the fuck would I want to do that?
The only reason I would go is if I won an Oscar, I could take it with me and tell them, “Suck on it, bitchez!” Or, as someone at Choolie’s party said, I could strap it between my legs before saying that phrase.
In a nutshell, that is why I decided to go to Choolie’s party instead. She is fucking cool (not to mention a great taiji teacher), and a talented artist as well. I knew that she hung out with other artists who were unconventional in their lifestyles. I also knew that the fact that I was a (deep breath) TaiwaneseAmericanbisexualtattooednonmonogamousagnosticchildfreeunmarried woman wouldn’t be an issue at her party. I knew that I could talk about my life freely without feeling the need to censor words. Besides, maybe I would meet a hottie or two! I couldn’t imagine even thinking about that possibility if I attended my reunion.
So. Yesterday, I went to taiji at noon and had an excellent session. I love it when Choolie explains the applications for a certain posture. I love it even better when she demonstrates on me, and we giggle like crazy as she’s pointing out how she could break my arm like this or knee me in the crotch like that. I can’t wait to get to the two-person form.
Then, I went home and watched a ballgame before taking a nap. I got up at nine and took my time getting ready. I am usually a comb my hair and go kinda grrl, but I was in the mood to prowl, damn it, which meant putting a bit more effort into my ensemble.
I put on my best boob shirt (the one I’m wearing in the picture to the left, the sea-foam green one), lined my lips in my signature color, Underworld by MAC (a colored grrl’s best friend), which is a deep purple (I’m wearing Diva by MAC in the pic), and slid on my long black skirt that has a slit up the left side. I was sans panties as I don’t wear them, and I added my shiniest silver dangling, clanky earrings, plus three silver rings. As a final touch, I slid on my knee-length black high-heel boots. I looked good, damn it, and I was ready to party.
I brought along of Maker’s Mark bourbon (thanks, Gregory, for turning me on to bourbon. I can’t believe I’ve never tried it before!) that was the hit of the party, and I sparkled, damn it. See, I am an introvert, but I can shine when I put an effort into it. Last night, though, I didn’t need to exert much effort. Usually when I go to a party, I sit around for a bit and suss out the situation. If I am really uncomfortable, I don’t talk to anyone who doesn’t talk to me first. However, last night, I felt really comfortable, and I was amazed when one person after the other sought me out in order to talk and/or flirt with me.
I didn’t have up most of the usual walls I erect when I go out in public. I didn’t have to censor what I was saying or thinking because chances were someone else had said the same thing at nearly the same time. Everyone I met was an artist or musician or performer or writer. The booze was flowing, and the laughs were plenty. I felt myself unwind even more as the night went on. I talked to several fascinating people who actually thought I was interesting as well. I got to see part of a grindhouse movie from the 70s called Malibu High that had me fretting about the plot line. At one point, I got to see two people do a great reenactment of scenes from Taxi Driver and then from Female Trouble. I had several long, involve discussions on wide-ranging topics, and I had a fucking blast. I haven’t felt that comfortable with a group of people in a long time.
During the night, I told several people about my reunion being on the same night. The more I talked about it, the more I realized why I had chosen to go to Choolie’s party rather than attend my reunion. My reunion would have focused on the past and on a girl I never really wanted to be. I would have sat around with a bunch of people and struggled to find a safe topic of conversation. I would have had to censor every word that came out of my mouth. I wouldn’t get anything from that, and it would have exhausted me at the same time.
Instead, I went to a party that had an eye to my future. All the people there were creative, intelligent, offbeat people who were firmly out of the mainstream (at least, all the ones I talked with). I didn’t have to struggle to find a safe topic–indeed, there was no topic that was considered verboten. I met an FB friend for the first time, and we clicked instantly. It was like I’d known him for years. Another friend of Choolie’s was a performance artist/musician, and she was fierce, in the very best sense of the word. There was a couple who were neighbors of Choolie’s whom I liked from the moment I met them. There was a rapper who had an easy smile and an engaging demeanor.
At some point during the night, I looked around and I realized that I was as relaxed as I had ever been at a party. I was where I was supposed to be. So, thank you, Choolie for inviting me to your party. I had a blast, and I had an important realization at the same time. Life is too short to spend time doing something I feel I should do rather than doing something I want to do. In addition, it’s time for me to embrace the woman I really am and not the one I think I should be. Some very cool people seem to find the former infinitely more interesting than the latter.
P.S. Pics 2, 3, and 4 are indicative of the woman I have become.