It’s okay to be strange, part two (“Alone and Together,” continued)

The house that I bought was built in the 1950’s. It was very old-fashioned, with ugly bright green trim, polished brass hardware and a rounded kitchen nook. I loved everything about that house. It was the symbol of my independence, and it still is.

When I bought the house, I didn’t want to change anything about it, even the things that needed to be changed. The only thing I did was replace the doorbell, which didn’t work anymore.

I still have that old doorbell somewhere.

One time shortly after I moved in, someone from work gave me a ride home. When she saw the house she said, “So this is it.”

“This is it,” I said. “It needs some work, of course. I’ll have to paint over that trim.”

I didn’t tell her that I secretly liked it just the way it was.

As it turned out, though, I regretted not telling her that, because she beat me to it.

“I like it how it is,” she said. “It’s cute. It’s old-fashioned. It’s perfect.”

A few years later, when I finally did repaint the trim, I used the original shade of green. It is still an ugly color. And it is still perfect.

It takes a long time to learn not be embarrassed about being weird, and it is much harder than anyone makes it out to be.

I learned something from that girl’s little comment, and for the next year, I worked on being whoever I wanted to be.

I would never become materialistic, I decided. I would live as an artist for the rest of my life, probably unmarried (at least until the age of forty). I would decorate my house in bright orange and other bright colors. I would take lots of walks and eventually be successful but never famous, and even if I was famous, I’d never wear expensive clothes—I would wear crazy things from thrift stores instead. Or I’d dress very plainly, to show that I wasn’t trying to be different.

If I did decide to marry, I would only marry someone who was very deep, someone, I told myself, who would understand why even though he was a man, I called him beautiful.

I discovered things about myself, too. I discovered that I was strong—stronger than I ever realized before. I discovered that a little loneliness was actually necessary for me to be really happy, and that in some ways, being alone was better than being in a relationship—more romantic.

Then, a year later, Jake proposed.

I said yes.

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