“Fashion is part of our culture, and it’s about more than just a pretty dress.”- Joan Smalls
When my family and I moved from a huge city to a small town I struggled to adapt. There’s no chaos, sirens, crime, the ongoing sound of traffic. You’re not speeding on the high of negative energy. You’re not drowning in the horrible health affects of stress. Truth be told, after spending my lifetime in the city I thought I’d crumble.
As the months passed that came to be one of my favorite things about our new found life in a small town. There is no gang violence, no chance of being shanked, or robbed or inconvenienced in a convenient mart during a hold up. There’s no assaults or mass shootings. Your car won’t be jacked. People open doors for each other and say, Good morning when they see one another in town.
We’re safe tucked away inside vast fields of corn surrounded by farmland that stretches to the ends of the earth where the sky touches the horizon.
Conditioning of the human mind can be mystifying in all its beauty of the unknown. It can also be concerning. Society suggests we are products of our environment but I’m not convinced.
After eighteen months of living here I found myself in the Post Office struck with nervousness. I was paranoid to get a P.O. Box. The instinct that had once protected me in the city tore away at me out here in the middle of nowhere. My mind closed and my walls went up.
It wouldn’t be difficult to find me. The town square is a mile from our house. I’m not famous by any means. My bank account is a reflection of that, but I’ve been published in over a dozen media publications, I’m active on social media and my stories are passed around the internet on a regular basis. I spend two hours per day responding to emails from readers.
It’s possible someone might want to find me, right? The type of person who might be in a gang, attempt to car jack me, break into my home in the middle of the night and harm my children? The world is filled with hate and my fear fuels it.
Has there ever been a hostage situation in the library? Has anyone ever been assaulted by a stalker while in the lobby getting their mail? Is it possible my imaginary attacker will see me in the hardware store while they’re purchasing an ax to chop me into pieces?
You can’t miss me. I overwhelmingly stand out with the uniqueness of an entirely dissimilar culture than the home grown roots I refer to as neighbors.
The woman behind the counter studied me. The expression on her face said it all. That’s never happened.
It didn’t matter. My environment may have changed but my thought process hadn’t. I decided to open a P.O. Box in another small town fifteen miles away. I have no doubt she’s right. No one will ever find me but it’s too late for that. My brain is already wired to feel equally as confident some horrific and life threatening event is going to happen.
All the town folks know me, or know of me. I’m the woman wearing clothes that don’t match with her hair up in a ponytail Cyndi Lauper style minus the Manic Panic hair dye. Pants with palm tree imprint and a flannel shirt somewhat covering vibrant tie-dye.
On the days I feel unenthused I wear body glitter. Sparkles create an illusion of enthusiasm. Body glitter is a necessity but I have yet to see anyone else covered in it. Do they not know it has magical powers? How it can improve bad days and solve any problems? How it’s a mask of perkiness and pure joy?
My name may be out there in the world but here in this small town I don’t need a name. I’m my clothes, and sparkles and maybe a bit of my naturally feisty attitude, too. A defense mechanism as real as the can of mace in my hand while walking through a parking lot to my car late at night.
Lev Vygotsky is quoted as saying, a mind cannot be independent of culture. This I believe more so than the environment surrounding me. I still have much to learn but the opportunity will only come with an open mind.
Here, in Rural America the body glitter merely heightens my awareness of it.
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