(Suburban? was it the garage door that gave it away?)
(You can sort of see my bra a bit here – the armholes are a teeny bit larger than I’d like)
I was called out recently as a middle-aged suburban woman (also boring & “drab”) on a message board. Out of anything you could say about me, that is probably the most jarring. Not the middle-aged part, or even the “boring” part, the suburban part. The truth is, though, that I am – I seem to firmly entrenched in suburbia at 42 years old. Something I never thought would happen.
I rail against it in my head all the time. I don’t feel suburban. I certainly don’t identify sartorially my fellow suburban middle-aged women, or feel like I fit in AT ALL here. Sometimes I look around and I feel a little lost. Like “where am I?” and “how did I get here??”
I know how I got here though. This is the life I’ve chosen for myself. Maybe not explicitly, but certainly by my decisions and actions over the years. And as in any relationship, compromise is necessary (my husband loves the suburbs…). Not that I’m not happy here. I appreciate being able to walk Dagny early in the morning without having to worry about getting splashed by buses barreling through puddles, getting hit crossing the walk by a driver not paying attention, or being propositioned by the local urban campers (which did happen, actually. Quite often when I lived all over Atlanta – have you seen my ass??).
I miss the energy of the city though, people all the time, noises, and being able to walk everywhere, most of all.
Like so much in life, things don’t always turn out the way you plan. Or thought they would. Or even want them to, no matter how much you try and make them fit into your schedule or ideas about yourself. But you must press on. And as an adult, you learn to sacrifice, making trade-offs to get to the greater good. For us, now, that is becoming debt-free.
We can do it, because we live in a place where I can have an office, a large bedroom for my step-son when he’s here, and a two-car garage, for a very reasonable rent. If we lived in the city, we wouldn’t have those things, and we would probably still be spending too much on rent, keeping us further away from our goal.
After college and before I met my (first) husband (and then after my divorce) I was very much a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl, moving every year, no matter the cost, and not thinking much about the future. I moved around the city, living as many places as I could, enjoying the urban lifestyle, but not considering what it was doing to my future.
Now, of course, I realize what I was doing. It was joy I longed for, a deep happiness and love for life. I always associated those things with being carefree and spontaneous – I thought you couldn’t have one without the other.
And since I am naturally neither of those things (carefree or spontaneous) I thought somehow I could become happy if I acted more impulsively instead of with my usual analytical clarity. So, I tried that for more years than I should have, and now, I am suffering the consequences; paying stupid tax, as Dave Ramsay would say.
After all these years, I finally understand that real happiness comes not only from being true to yourself, and following your passion, but also from cultivating healthy relationships and planning for a future. Long term vs. short term goals have always been difficult for me. If you’ve been following along on my Minimal Closet journey, you probably recognize this already; up until a few years ago, I was much more concerned with fleeting moments of pleasure (shopping…) than with true happiness and deep relationships.
It’s difficult still, to come to terms with why I’m doing this: living in suburbia, and I want to backslide sometimes. I get caught up and dream of living in a high-rise in the city, forget about debt, forget about the future, forget about traveling. But then I jolt myself back to reality (and remember that I’m an adult now), look out my office window at the birds eating from the feeder, take a deep breath and smile.
I’ve said so many times here, the key to having a closet you love, is first accepting your reality and making sure your wardrobe reflects that. Buy clothes & dress for the life you have now, the weight you are now, and the location you are now, not for the person you wish you were, or hope to become. Stop arguing with reality, embrace it, and happiness will follow.
This is true for life. Life is complicated, messy, and unpredictable. We may not have what we want right now, or live where we want, but rebelling against it constantly, instead of appreciating it, gets us no where. Believe me. I know.
So, yeah. This was my long way of saying I guess I’m suburban. I’m going to take it now, and own it. No matter how foreign it feels to me (and it does, truly). So, thank you, random message board commenter, for helping me come to terms with my suburban-ness. It really is the truth that sets us free…
Oh, and let me say a few things about the James Perse dress: I love it, and I chose it over the open back more ruched, longer version that I also loved, because this one is shorter on me and I was trying to specifically replace a similar, older JP dress that didn’t fit anymore. This one is not as bra-friendly as the other one (I have to wear a racerback bra), and not as ruched. I appreciate that this one doesn’t have so much ruching, as that can cause the skirt to ride up a lot, but I do sort of miss it a little, as the ruching in the back seems to make it not quite so revealing…And maybe this one runs a teeny bit smaller than the other one. Overall, I recommend both, for different reasons.
*for people (ahem, from said message board) who think I’m saying I wear a size 2, I am NOT. Ha! me…a size 2…. That refers to James Perse sizing, in which a size 2 is generally a medium, a 6-8 in regular sizes