There was a nervous energy creeping along the windows and the walls of the perfect 70’s house that night. 5 women twisting and turning with Austin freedom as they pricked and prodded until their everything was perfect and prepared. Two languished in pain that only women know and came in momentarily, only to end up in quiet, violent arguments with the goddess of the group. I worked quietly with the Texas Beauty as she found her place again in the land that had raised her.
The night began with excitement ending my sleep as Madeleine poked her head into the door, ending months of absence with excitement that filled the room. Lilliana was nervous, she was out of her element, coming back to highschool and crossing tables by staying with the “other group.” She paced back and forth priming and preparing herself for an evening out, while we talked about Madeleine’s boyfriend of three months, who sounded about ready to become her husband for all ages. She painted a picture for us of a short man beside her towering self, wearing hipster glasses and spouting comedic lines.
Somehow Lilli’s inquiry about whether she should where flats or heels ended in a cacauphony of praise of my own apparently “Barbie” feet, shaped perfectly for heels, and though they didn’t know it while they were praising it-too thin to grow old gracefully. Shortly, afterward I turned to lay my head on Madeleine’s lap, languidly sprawling my button up clad self across the bed, and resting in the comfort of the one woman in the world that made me come alive the way she did. I didn’t need to breathe at that moment, just to be, alive and present.
The room shifted so that Lilliana could begin her artistry on my skin. Shadows, lines, and whatever other spells she cast until I was barely recognizable in perfection. Madeleine updated us on her life with her story of being assaulted by a man with nothing better to do with his life than persecute a woman for having been born a woman. As she narrated she revealed the languishing her soul had endured since her graduation from college where I had met her just a year and a half before. It was like old times, and yet different, because I was only so open. She hadn’t spoken to me for so long after I left that her friendship had begun a commodity that was not meant for me.
After Lilliana began on my mane of hair, I awkwardly tried to contribute my own struggles. I was making a joke out of an isolation that I genuinely feared, and simultaneously masking a despair that hadn’t left with leaving the source of fear. Lacking complete honesty and willingness to talk, but even worse-confidence in the others desire to hear-I mocked myself in telling them, and invisibly destroyed myself before them.
Minutes later, I clad myself in sparkles, and a certain vintage perfection, and the contempt I had harbored for myself,placed and found in the eyes of others welled up within. I attempted to accept the glory that each person that saw the creation bestowed on me, saying thank you’s and pretending gratitude. As time went on, the stomach inside me crumbled until I changed into a veiled costume that made me feel as quietly plain, beautiful as I wanted to feel. It’s a strange desire to want to be nothing, but that was the sensation that drove me into the new outfit, and then into the corner with a glass of water to hide.