I dressed up as a queen of darkness this past Saturday.
At least, that’s what I said I was doing. I’d been invited to celebrate the birthday of a friend at a bar in Williamsburg, an event for which the honoree had requested each guest dress according to his or her interpretation of the word “queen.”
I did not want to do this.
Moments before leaving my apartment, I stood in the hallway wearing a black dress so billowy it more closely resembled a bed sheet than any sort of women’s garment. “When you see me, do you think ‘queen of darkness’?” I asked Lily.
She tilted her head. “I don’t know,” she said. “You look — like a mom. Like a cool mom.”
Not long ago, I would have hated that comment; last weekend, I wore it — and my shapeless dress — with pride. “I love it,” I said. “I’ll take it.”
Earlier this month, Emily and I did a photo shoot with the Greenpoint ceramicist Isaac Nichols, whose most well-known work is a feminist-approved series of clay pots molded to resemble women’s chests. We’d loved both Isaac and his studio, which had radiated warmth and laughter, and seemed to serve as the center for many a creative friendship. As often happens when I meet people whose lives I admire, my mind was swimming afterward with ideas for improvements I could make in my own.
“I think I’m regressing,” I said to Emily when the shoot was over. We were having lunch at a nearby restaurant; two breasted pots, which we’d been gifted as souvenirs, joined us at the table.
“What do you mean?” she asked.
I explained that I’d felt moody lately, frustrated with certain things that I felt were out of my control — but, of course, weren’t. What was most irritating about all of it, though, was that I recognized this moodiness. I’d felt it before in similar situations when I was younger — and I was dealing with it now in exactly the same ways.
“You’re not regressing,” said Emily. “You’re adjusting."
I remembered being little, upset at something and not knowing why. “It’s growing pains,” my mom had told me, stroking my legs. These were, too, I thought. As I've grown into an adult, I've found myself continuously mystified, curious, and occasionally frustrated at who this person is: older and suddenly comfortable with it, moody at times. I'm still feeling her out, making adjustments as needed. As Emily said next: "Don't worry about how you're reacting. No matter what, you'll never tolerate being who you used to be. You know too much."
“It makes sense to be overwhelmed. I mean, look at this,” she continued, gesturing out the open window. The sound of traffic filled the room. Someone was shouting from their top-floor apartment to passersby on the street. A dog squatted on a flowerbed. Our waiter dropped a tray of glasses.
We paid our bill and left. “At the same time,” Emily said, as our eyes adjusted to the glare of sunlight — and the air was warm and people were out, talking and hugging and smiling in the direction of our new clay breasts — “just look at it.”
You can find my previous POV entries, here. Thank you so much for reading.