Not long ago on a cold night in Columbus, Ohio, I left Max and Erma’s after an enjoyable dinner with two co-workers, stepping carefully down icy steps to the sidewalk that would lead us back to our convention hotel. Without much thought, other than that my hands were cold, I pulled my favorite red gloves out of my coat pocket and slipped them on.
“Red gloves!” One co-worker chortled. “What are you, twelve years old?”
I was too surprised, and cold, to be hurt or angry, but the comment lingered in my mind.
I’ve always been a step or two out of the mainstream. As a real twelve-year-old, I wanted desperately to fit in, to find the magic formula for entrance into the popular crowd, but I just didn’t care about nail polish, or gossip, or the latest song on the radio. I wanted to lose myself in imaginary worlds, write and read stories, belt out show tunes from South Pacific and Camelot.
It’s taken a lifetime to be okay with the quirky, quiet person I am. And to find my people. The ones who also wear red gloves, who can talk about poetry for hours, who sit happily with notebook or laptop staring at the ocean imagining a mythical creature emerging from the waves instead of parading in a bikini and sunscreen across the sand searching out the perfect spot for a beach volleyball game.
It’s okay. Either way. Be who you are. Such simple words. So hard, sometimes, to live, to remember.
I set out this year to think about my life as a writer, to write one post each month that might help me, help you, on the creative path. Stay tuned. Another year will start soon, and I think I will have more to say. But for now, my advice is to wear your red gloves, your purple scarves, your Wonder Woman Chucks. All at once if it feels right, if it makes you smile. That’s really what creative journeys are about: finding what makes you smile and then spreading that magic to others.
Like that co-worker who taunted me about my red gloves.
This week, she showed up in a red, sparkly shrug over a black and white dress. “Wow! I said. “You look festive.”
Seems a student had told her she dressed like a wizard (not given or taken as a compliment) in her polished black outfits each day. “I don’t want to look like a wizard, ” she said. “That really bothered me.”
I smiled, but kept my thoughts to myself. Until now. You see, writers have other avenues for revenge. But then, it’s not really revenge is it? Just one of those opportunities creative people find to take little pieces of life’s puzzle and learn how they fit into a bigger picture.
So here’s to paying attention, filling your pockets with stories, and wearing whatever makes you not look like a wizard, unless you want to look like a wizard, and then I say,
“Go for it.”