Sunday, November 29, 2020

Delight and Surprise

I've written little this year, not for lack of thought, but perhaps because there are so many threads that I've been thinking about. I wade through the tangle of ideas and realize that perhaps the most predominant is that this is a year of unexpected reinvention, some seemingly frivolous, but also significant ways. 

Suddenly we were largely confined to our homes and neighborhoods. My car feels unfamiliar when I get behind the wheel because most of my journeys are on foot. My auto pilot reactions still operate, but my trust in them has dwindled. I have often circled back to my house after departing to make sure I closed the garage door only to find that I have.  It is no longer a familiar ritual.

My initial challenges were figuring out how to get groceries delivered and what to do for an exercise routine with the gym closed.  There have been some byproducts of those challenges. We are eating meals at home with rare takeout on special occasions. That gives me greater control of my diet. No lunches out with friends, more planning about what I purchase.


Similarly, my workout routine has changed, but also gotten more consistent. When I roll out of bed and into my yoga pants, it is easier to think about a workout, whether it is a walk, an online class or my recumbent bike on those cold winter days. My husband got me an Apple watch and I find I like the routine that it encourages. I have nicknamed it “the little f***er” because it annoyingly tells me to stand up every hour. I dutifully jump up and do three laps around our kitchen and living room to earn my stand. As someone who can sit at my computer for hours at a time, engrossed in a genealogy project, I find that it actually helps my back to listen to this creature on my wrist.

Now, I am not an exercise junkie. Unlike my husband, I don’t bike the 34 mile roundtrip journey to our studio. I work out because I realize it affects my quality of life and I do a moderate amount each day. Much to my surprise the modifications to how I eat, consistent exercise  and the little f***er’s exhortations have resulted in a steady weight loss. I found myself pulling clothes out of my pile for Goodwill realizing that their fit had miraculously improved. Now many people have indicated the opposite result of the pandemic as they began to bake and do a bit of stress eating. For me, it has been a delightful side benefit.

Perhaps the greatest change has been the decision to let my hair go grey, well actually silver. Now I don’t know if this is a permanent decision or a pandemic based temporary exploration of identity. Every so often I used to ask Jeffrey, my hair stylist of 30+ years, if it would make me look older. “Yes,” he solemnly replied and that was the end of the conversation. Sometimes he would comment that he thought I might have a cool white streak in front like Susan Sontag as he noted the silver hiding beneath. I was curious about my hidden cool streak, but wasn't quite sure how to expose it. I was due for a visit to Jeffrey when the salons closed down.  By the time they re-opened, I was intrigued by the person who was emerging beneath the color. She looked kind of interesting and I wondered who this new person would be. I decided to let it grow through those awkward stages. Where did I have to go anyway?

Susan Weinberg-blogger

When I looked at a picture I had submitted months ago for an on-line conference presentation, it no longer looked like me. I took my first picture of me with silver grey hair and re-submitted it. Then I changed my Zoom picture. I was slowly stepping into this new identity. This new me. 

Billie Eilish

Oddly enough it didn’t make me feel older. Quite the opposite. I felt like a fifteen-year-old playing with her hair. I pulled out the pretty hair clips and hair ties that I used when my hair was long. I put it up on my head, pulled portions of it back and tried it with different earrings. I flashed back on times when that felt familiar, a time of playing with identity, deciding who I would be. Apparently I'm still deciding.


Just as the weather turned, my husband and I went out to a nearby sculpture garden to meet some friends from out of town. With wide paths it offered an easy way to gather in relative safety. I had used a clip to put my hair up with strands escaping around my face in my two- toned hairstyle. We sat spread out around a table at an outdoor cafĂ© when a woman approached and said, “I have to tell you I’ve been admiring your hair. I just love it. You're really rocking that  Billie Eilish look (an 18-year old singer-songwriter). “


I laughed in amusement at my new-found hipness, as I welcomed this new me with both delight and surprise.


1 comment:

  1. My very short hairstyle has morphed into a much longer one, full of curls and frizz. I've tried new products and different ways of caring for it, and sometimes when I look in the mirror and say, WHO IS THAT?! Quite an experience in self-discovery, for sure.