I spent the entire Saturday in Austin as Joyce, which was very easy to do, and suggests a trajectory of becoming that seems nothing but easy. However embodied and comfortable I am, though, the presentation is still minimalism. So after a pozole lunch with my friend Honoria and her eclectic group of friends at El Sol Y La Luna restaurant on South Congress street, off we went to shop.
Honoria is an artist and a consultant and a whimsical shopper, so we started at a place called Big Bertha’s Bargain Basement, where Henry the proprietor has some truly amazing (and amazingly festive) dresses, jackets, hats, and accouterments. I tried on a variety of dresses of various vintage and found only one, a stretchy black dress that seemed quite plausible (with the right accessories, of course).
Henry modifies jackets with some of the most amazing artwork I’ve ever seen, and these jackets and the other dresses I tried on fall into that category of “fun to wear but hard to picture.” What I mean is that if one wanted to look fabulous, Big Bertha’s is one of the key places to go, but “fabulous” may not be the right look to aim for right now for two reasons: my stated aesthetic of minimalism and the lack of places/events in humble Bedford Falls where “fabulous” is called for.
There was a time when “fabulous” would have been the only thing that interested me, not having an emerging feminine lifeworld, but rather a series of little outings. We might call it “drag,” if we want, but I’m not sure that term (which is an acronym, by the way: Dressed As A Girl) was appropriate for my explorations into early, proto-Joyce, and I am certain that it’s not appropriate for me now.
These thoughts were on my mind as Honoria and I shopped, and I realized that I was finding it hard to imagine my immediate future in Bedford Falls, the mundane activities of taking the kids to school, teaching my students, doing yardwork, eating dinner, and a thousand other mundane tasks that comprise my lifeworld. In other words, shopping for “fabulous” seemed to me to be bringing two opposite poles into direct confrontation in my mind: the 99% routine world where minimalism is almost certainly appropriate, and the 1% special world where “fabulous” is acceptable and expected.
If I’m wrong on the categories or percentages, it doesn’t really matter — the conflict is what’s important. And this conflict immediately reminded me of another one I have had (moreso a year ago), about timelines, one being fast and exciting and the other being slow and prudent. It’s hard changing your identity radically, partly because the new identity will have this same sort of mix between the mundane and the highly differentiated — most of human existence overlaps in the same activities, and if they were the only things involved in radical identity change, there would be no problems. But the small percentage of activities or thoughts that are highly differentiated between and among identities — ahhh, there’s where the disruptive change is hard.
The desire to move quickly, to buy fabulous things, to become a differentiated persona is natural, and even desirable. After all, if transition is a journey, then this is the destination, or at least a recognizable landmark that identifies the destination.
But that speed, that glamor, and differentiation is exactly what makes impatient people so funny and alien to others. Feeding the horses in a pink kimono, wearing bright blue eyeshadow and juvenile accessories to teach a graduate course, sharing too much information in situations where discretion is the norm — these are signs of impatience.
The opposite is just as bad — severe prudence, even when “fabulous” and differentiated looks are called for, going too slow on a journey that does appear to have a destination, hazy as it might be off in the distance. If friends’ advice to the too-speedy transitioner is “Grow up,” then advice to the slowpoke might be “Live a little and enjoy your new life.”
Given these thoughts–of my twin desires to populate my world with special and fabulous things and to live a normal and mundane life–I suggested to Honoria that we stop shopping and sit down and talk, to take a breather even before we were winded. We talked, a we did in the old days, playfully, happily, intellectually, and I put my concerns about becoming embodied over the next few months aside and simply enjoyed our connection–simultaneously mundane and fabulous, as it should be with good friends.