Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Was Aunt Rita a Plain Jane?

Plain jane caterpillars are called "cryptic". Cryptic, that has a ring to it.

I've said this a few times recently - I often feel like a plain Jane.

My Aunt Rita used to say that of herself. "I was always a plain Jane," she told me.

Aunt Rita was actually my great aunt. She was Pop-pop's sister. Pop-pop was my mother's father.

Aunt Rita had long, straight hair that reached below her waist. The bottom still was brown, though her hair had long turned grey. She'd sit outdoors with her recently washed hair tossed over the back of a lawn chair. Her eyes closed, her face pointed towards the sun. Once her locks were dry, she'd braid her hair and wrap it many times around her head from her crown to the nape of her neck.

When she became much older, she cut her hair very short and permed it, like many other women of her generation. It was easier to care for. I missed her hair.

To me, Aunt Rita was anything but a plain Jane. She and my Uncle Newell and my grandparents played cards and had happy hour in the afternoon. They lived in a tiny mobile home in exotic Florida with hundreds of other elderly couples who fled from parts north. They had gators in their yard. They had a storm door with a vibrant floral patterned stain glass window made by their son. They travel extensively and brought me dolls from around the world. Plain Jane?

Then, I have a friend who seems worried that she might be a plain Jane, my words, not hers. If you were to see her, you'd be surprised to learn this. She's willowy, graceful, and poised. She laughs well. She's thoughtful and perceptive. She's stylish. She's gracious and generous. Her personal history is deep. Her inner tenor is strong. You'd notice her walking down the street.

I wonder if others would be surprised to hear me say I so often feel dull and shabby and inadequate. Dilapidated work clothes, broken glasses, and cracking knees. So I have a business with a nice website and I write a column for a magazine, so…so what.

It's hard to write this because I don't know how it will be perceived, but what I'm trying to do is point out that we often don't really know each other. We have no idea how someone else feels about themselves. It's likely their face does not tell the whole story.

It's easy to feel inadequate. It's easy to compare myself to someone and feel like I should be different… gosh, if I could just stop being a crybaby. If I could just be more decisive. If I could get my son's clothes clean. If I could spare some time for my husband. If I could just have one nice pair of sexy shoes. If my posture was better. If I could eat more greens. If I could write more.

Aunt Rita, you were never a Plain Jane.

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