Monday, August 6, 2007

20 years.


I don't know if it's the idea of fall approaching, but this week I find myself going back to what initially got me interested in cosmetics in 1987. There's a certain vibe for Autumn that is somehow the ideal blend of sadness and optimism, newness and death, starting over and cycles of life.

Back in 1987, I was about halfway through 7th grade when my Mom announced that she was going to take this great job in Columbus. We lived in Avon Lake and had for a couple of years at that time. I think that my parents have never felt very comfortable with staying put anywhere. We'd moved from Lakewood only 2 years prior and my sis and I had already been uprooted from our schools and friends. But this time was different. This time I understood that being a new girl meant several things: all of them good. I got to be anybody I wanted to be. I got to burn any bridges I damn well wanted to at my current school. I got to have the possibility of a better social life. The promise was there, the future was open wide. My Mom started her job for the last month of school and I started letting people know that nothing I did in Avon Lake mattered anymore since I was moving. For example: Cheerleading tryouts/rejection....didn't they know that I didn't really care about making the squad? I was only doing it for fun.

Our house was on the market and we were mere weeks from a relocation. My Mom had been commuting back on weekends. After doing the job for a few months though, the hours were wearing thin. She quit the new job. That happened during the summer break. We were building a house outside of Columbus. I was already planning my back-to-school wardrobe. It was going to be so different at the new school.

Now, not only did I have to stay in Avon Lake, but I had to stay dispite telling everyone otherwise. They'd already signed my yearbook "It was great knowing you. Good luck in Columbus!". Plus, we'd already sold our house. Now I had to stay in the same city without the same house. If you're going to have to deal with going to the same school, you should really have the perk of staying in your own house, especially since it was a cool house. It was one of the only things buoying me in social circles, even with the not-very-popular crowd. Now, no more pool. Indoor. Outdoor. Nada.

The feeling of 'how will I go back being the same person I've always been' occured to me. Could this be an opportunity to be a "new girl" at my own old school? That was my fantasy.

It turned out that the only house we could get wouldn't be ready to be moved into until 6 weeks after the school year started. That meant well into October. Instead we were able to stay at my Grandparents' cottage on Lake Erie, about 10 minutes from the Jr. High. Convenient enough, but the problem was that it was definitely just a cottage. Thin walls that you can feel the wind whipping through, no heat, one bathroom. It gets cold on Lake Erie by the end of August, let alone mid-October. High gusts of wind would hit you everytime you walked out the door and being inside barely helped.

I can remember counting the number of blankets and quilts I had on me. Ten layers thick to even attempt to keep warm and I still had to sleep with my head under the covers. That September I got an issue of Vogue magazine. September Vogue is like an encylopedia: size and contentwise both. It's no less than 600 pages of glossy ads (and some fashion spreads tucked in towards the last 75 pages.) I preferred the ads. I had every perfume sample and lipstick ad memorized since I kept the issue with me in the cold bed, under the covers. Instead of dirty magazines, I had Vogue. Not being an especially rich, thin, or stylish kid didn't stop me from drooling over the lifestyle the magazine showed me. Plus, I felt like it spoke to me like no teenybopper magazine ever had. Kirk Cameron hanging on my walls? No, I wanted a spread of Animale perfume. I was inspired.

My first stop: The super amazing bright coral lipstick shown on a model from a cosmetics ad. I went to the Estee Lauder counter at May Company at Midway Mall. I found the brightest coral lipstick they had and purchased it. I wasn't sure of exactly how I could pull it off and what I would wear it with, but I needed it. When I got home and excitedly showed my sister, her response was "How are you going to wear that??! It's so bright!?" She was right, but I knew she didn't get what i was going for. High fashion. Runway. Couture in Lorain County. My 4'10 ass was at least going to try. I showed her how I could blot it on really sheer and it was kinda pretty. "Yeah. Well, what about if you actually wear it all the way?!" She saw through my thinly veiled attempt at softening a color that I wouldn't ever wear. And though she was, for all purposes, correct- I now think of that tube of absurdly orange lipstick on a 12 or 13 year old and can remember why I do what I do to this day.

That issue of Vogue will come out in the next week or so: 20 years later. I can't believe it's been 20 years of honing my lipstick skills. 20 years since I stored the issue under my 10 layers of covers. 20 years later and I'm doing what I didn't know at the time I've always wanted to do. Take my interpretation of beauty and show others how its not trite and frivilous: It's newness and death, sadness and optimism, but really it's a cycle of life and a way to start over anytime you want to: To be the 'new girl', when you're definitely not.