i just hang on, suffer well, sometimes it’s hard….hard to tell

(depeche mode, suffer well)

I’m starting to figure out a lot about myself lately. I’m sure that this is a good thing. I’m a little afraid, because I know that there’s a lot of things that I do not want to deal with that are going to come up. But, for right now, some of the introspection is actually just fine.

Let’s start with one of my more outward facing traits, which is, simply, my love of all things goth. I decided, last night, that instead of going to the party in my usual mix of street/downtown clothing (long jacket, long jeans and high heels, etc), I’d just go dressed in something that was a bit more like me. That outfit happened to include fishnet tights and fingerless fishnet gloves, of course, as well as a rhinestone studded collar, skull/crossbones necklace and a lot of eyeliner.

I felt a bit out of place for a while, until my friend Z came up to me, and she told me I looked fabulous. And a few people agreed with that sentiment over the evening. And part of it was because the outfit was on the flattering side. It’s said, goth suits me, because I have pale skin and dark hair and big eyes, because I have curves. But I think most of it is just that I’m happier and more at ease dressed in black, and everyone looks better when they’re happy in their own skin. Even with the weird looks I get sometimes, even when I have to show up at a party in PVC. And that’s what Z said. And she added, “and I love what you’re wearing!” Which means a lot, coming from her, because she always has such fabulous fashion sense and creativity. And I told her so.

“Really?” she said. “I’ve always admired your fashion sense though!” And then we talked about clothes for five minutes.

Now that I’m kind of admitting to myself that I’m happier in goth or goth-influenced clothing though, I have to start looking at why I identify so strongly with the subculture. Or, rather, why I like so many things – music and fashion – that are associated with goth subculture. And why I’ve relegated that liking to the back of my mind, and why I never really accepted it before last year.

I’ve never been much more than a weekend goth, not since I was nineteen or so. And even then, I cleaned up for the sales floor at Future Shop (although I did recycle my work suit pantyhose into armlets when it developed runs). I went to the Mercury in Seattle a lot, in the last couple years I lived in Seattle, and I had some limited outfits for it – but those excursions, even though I loved them, were few and far between. I was still with Big Scary Mike then, after all, and Big Scary Mike didn’t want me being like “those freaks at the club.” Which is why he relied on other guys to take me out to the goth clubs. Neil took me to the Catwalk and to the Mercury and the Vogue in Seattle, and Jason, my old supervisor from SBC in Plano, took me to the Church a couple times in Dallas.

In Vancouver, I was on my own. For most of the time. But then, I was trying to rebuild myself out of the mess I’d become in the States. And even after I’d put myself back together, then I had the Boyfriend Who Mocked Joy Division (and honey, if you’re reading this, no, I will never forgive you for making snarky remarks about Ian Curtis!) But most importantly, I had so many friends, and so much going on, that I threw myself into looking as normal as possible. I was a grown up, after all, that last year in Vancouver.

I’d always thought that if I was well adjusted in society, with work and friends, I wouldn’t want to dress like that, that being into a goth subculture was simply a carryover from being a Mopey Teen. And I’d always been told thatresponsible adults with jobs and lives don’t dress like that, by everyone from Mike to my mother. So, although I kept some minimal clothing and a handful of CDs around, when I moved to L.A., I shoved even that in the back of my mind and my closet. “That’s it,” I told myself. “I’m going to continue being the happy, well-adjusted girl I was in Vancouver, and take it to the next level. I’m going to wear colors and even…white! I’m going to get a tan and cut my hair above my shoulders and wear less eyeliner! And I’m going to act like everyone else” I’m going to act like I was popular in high school!

Look, I know what this looks like, when I write it down, but it really sounded like a good (subconscious) idea at the time, OK? I didn’t clue in that it was high school carryover until last November, and then it hit me and I was like…holy fucking shit! I’m twenty seven and trying to make up for high school. And when I flung myself, emotionally, into that Nine Inch Nails show in November, and let out a lot of the thoughts that I’d had on lockdown for six, seven years, I realized that no amount of tanned skin, or white clothing, or number of friends is going to change who I am. And trying to dress like someone different and act like someone with a different past and different emotions isn’t going to make me into that person. And if I did become that person, would I really be happy?

Would I be me?

So now I’m pale again. And I have the long hair I always have, that’s part of me, instead of a trendier haircut. And I wear rings on all my fingers, and dark nail polish and black clothing and leather cuff bracelets again.

And I’m just a lot happier. I don’t feel like so much of an impostor in my own life. I don’t think I need to start going to every goth club night in L.A., although I could learn to rollerskate and go to Wumpskate more often. I don’t think I need to get my piercings put back in, although I also don’t have to make myself put on a colorful outfit when I don’t feel like it. I can admit, I’d rather listen to the Birthday Massacre CD on permanent repeat, or “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, or order in CDs off the Projeckt and Dancing Ferret and Metropolis labels, than I would listen to the latest cheerful indie band. And, just as importantly, I don’t have to eschew the occasional day of dressing in Urban Cowgirl, or listening to a The OC soundtrack band, to maintain an image.

I think the point of all this is – I’m sort of accepting who I am instead of trying to change it into what I think other people will like better. Or change who I am, because I think that it isn’t what I’m supposed to be – that it isn’t “grown up” enough. I have to strike the phrase, “I should be,” out of my vocabulary. That’s all. Maybe this does have a lot to do with being a freak in high school, or maybe it is that my classical music and arts background gives me a penchant for minor key music and dressing in black. Whatever. In the process of rediscovering who I am, this is one of the most visible traits that’s surfaced. I think the rest of it is on its way.

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