I remember the first time that I recognized myself as a jealous person. It was only a few summers ago. I drank a lot of vodka and cranberry juice out of Styrofoam cups that summer. I was 21 years old. Twenty-one before I knew that I had the capacity for jealousy. I've always been a late bloomer--in every conceivable way.
When I think about it, it could have actually been the first time I've ever, legitimately, been jealous. It could be. I've always been the sort of girl who never thought she'd get the best and, thus, never got my hopes up. I learned to settle for forth place very early on. A lot of times and in many rewarding ways--this is a perfectly acceptable outlook on life. But occasionally, a balance needs to be struck.
I always tell about how since I was little, I was always attracted to the browns and mustards and mossy greens that no one else wanted. In class once, in the second grade, our teacher let us choose a piece of construction paper to create a folder for documents. Everyone else chose vibrant fuscias and teals, bright yellows or clean whites. I dug to the bottom of the pile and pulled out this long piece of sun-faded and spotted green that much resembled the bottom of a neglected swimming pool come autumn. This was mine. I identified with the little dude. He was forgotten and unwanted at the bottom of the pile. He had liver spots and a fairly indistinguishable color. My teacher, Mrs. Lavelle, tried to convince me to take a bright purple, and I considered it, but then guilt kicked in and I stuck to my guns and chose the unlovable. Jealousy may be a recent development but good old fashioned guilt has been my long-time companion along with the personification of numerous inanimate objects.
The thing is that I knew that piece of construction paper had feelings and intuition and eyes. It knew that I considered it and it knew that if I put it back in the stack, it was because I refused to make use of it even though it was completely functional. It would have known that I chose the purple because it was new and didn't have a fabricated name that would likely only be found on the pages of a J. Peterman catalog. I didn't want to hurt it--so to the scorn of my peers, I proudly chose him and decorated him with Crayolas. I was not jealous of everyone else's more beautiful colors. I just did the best I could to make mine a little easier to look at.
And that's how I've been dealing with myself, pretty much ever since. Just try to make it a little easier to look at.
I've never tried to be gorgeous. I've sometimes made conscious leaps toward "pretty" but the harder I try, the worse it gets so I just leave well enough alone and stick to tinted moisturizer and mascara. Which does seem to work for me. See, this is one of those times where it's not always necessary to go for the gold. Jeans, tank tops, mascara and a pony-tail. It leaves much more open for interpretation. Which is all a woman is looking for anyway, to be considered, not summed up after one quick glance.
The other day, Alyssa and I were at lunch and the hostess came over to our table to offer us coupons. When she left, all I could think was that she likely got her makeup tips from time spent in the theatre. She made a valiant attempt, but boy did she crash and burn. And herein lies my greatest fear: crashing and burning.
The fear of the crash isn't that bad. Crashes are quick. They happen in a split second, then you quickly turn off the radio (which is what you always do when you get in an accident), get out of the car and survey the damage. Really, it's the burning that bugs me. The aftermath, the cleaning up of debris and wreckage. I could fail all the time if it wasn't for that blasted immediate reminder of and the subsequent cleaning that ensues.
But very recently I've made a brilliant revelation: fuck that, I'm dealing in.