365 Days of Earrings

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tall, thin, and quirky

I am tall and thin. That often makes me stand out in a crowd. But I often feel that I'm odd in other ways, too. I often feel alone, even in groups where I’m comfortable. Sometimes because my opinions (political, religious, social,  economic) are so different from those around me. Sometimes because I don’t know anything about American Idol or The Office or football. Sometimes because I just can’t handle the volume, and everyone else is enjoying the music, the conversation--to me, the noise. 

This pair of earrings was a gift from a student who went to visit her family in South Africa and chose these tall, thin people to bring back to me. “She was sure these would be perfect for you,” her mother said. “I hope you like them!?!”
I do. I love them. But I’m reluctant to wear them in public. I’m a tall, thin, white woman. Why would I dangle tall, thin South Africans from my ears? Maybe someone would think they were overgrown characters from Diary of a Wimpy Kid. But I fear I’d appear racist. That I might be tempted to explain that I have a collection of Obama stuff on my fridge.
I had a long phone conversation with someone I love today. She was feeling different. Hard as she tries to believe in herself, someone “too cool for school” is undermining her confidence with looks and jibes. She feels alone.
Now that I'm 55, I've finally learned to accept myself for who I am. Tall, thin, quirky. Liberal, disappointed by organized religion, devoted to the golden rule, convinced that growing economic inequality is not good for America. I've learned that there are kindred spirits in the world. For each of us. But life can be lonely when you're tall, thin, and quirky.  

No comments: