I’m on my way to a photo shoot deep in Dallas somewhere on a street full of seedy restaurants, mechanic shops and artists co-ops. In one of the warehouses are empty studios, one in which we will shoot this afternoon for our catalog. The streets arc up and slope down again and are riddled with potholes. The people on the streets are a strange mix of derelicts and blue collar workers, of artists and patrons of their services. There is an abandoned building cordoned off for demolition where dirty men stand in a group smoking cigarettes and talking. There is a mechanic shop with hand-painted plywood signs advertising used tires for $20. In the opposite direction is a small art framing studio that resembles the old houses in downtown somewhere or another – although I can’t place exactly where. The flag hanging from the flagpole says ‘Old Louisiana Renovated.’ Perhaps that is why it looks familiar. The whole scene gives me a sense of wanderlust. I want to break free of my everyday responsibilities and go visit those other old houses in their old towns and see their mixes of people and places and ways of life.
But this is not my liberty today and I continue to the photo shoot. I park my car in the back of the old warehouses and light a cigarette against the wind, silently reminding myself that the time to quit is quickly approaching. I walk briskly because frankly, the area is a little frightening. I ring the buzzer once, twice and a tiny woman answers the door. I recognize her from our fashion show and introduce myself. She is finishing up a shoot with a little girl in a bright poufy dress and shiny black patent leather shoes with bows matching her sash. She is tired I can tell, I remember those days with my own children. They finish the photos with our help. My co-workers who have arrived in the last few moments help me make faces and dance around to keep her smiling and take away our strangeness and her discomfort.
We discuss concepts with the photographer while we wait for the models to arrive. After another 20 minutes they finally do. We scrape together a quick synopsis of what we are striving to paint with these photos and get the models ready to go. The shoot goes on for a couple hours and I would like to think out of the numerous shutter clicks we got a few good useable shots. My opinions go ignored more often than considered and several times I find myself feeling like a second-rate citizen because I don’t have Big Dicks experience or fashion house visits or nifty designer marks on my simple clothing. I was thanked and complimented on my eye for things but something didn’t sit right with me. The thing that made me most disturbed though was my reaction.
I have never ‘fit in’ quite right. I am a strange person in many ways and always a rebel even without meaning to be, sometimes without wanting to be. Why would it I let it trigger aggression in me today when I have worked so hard to be who I am and find peace in all that I represent? I don’t wear designer clothes every day; I don’t curl my hair, or wear high heels everyday just because I’m ‘supposed’ to. I don’t do my nails because I like them short and my hands look like the hands of a See Her Squirt woman who has worked for a living. I don’t want their lives, their clothes because I know I would never be willing to pay the price it took to have them. I didn’t finish school because to me it was a sell-out to simply go when I had no idea what I wanted to be. I didn’t marry rich because like the fool I still am, I wanted love instead of security. My job won’t ever define me the way it does some but I do have to enjoy what I do. And I like what I do even if I don’t always get the credit I feel I deserve. I am happy with being behind the scenes and in the company of those who compliment who I am rather than those who need me to like them be more than I am.
I excused myself and headed out to my car. It took me over an hour in traffic on the freeway to get back to work and I thought about my reactions to many things recently, not just the shoot. I reminded myself that the heartaches and hardships will pass, as they always do and where I am is only temporary. One day I will be someone those same people respect because I made something out of the gifts bestowed on me rather than wasting my efforts keeping up with the Joneses of the world.
So the moral of this here blog, is to be true to yourself and take time to remember where you’re headed and why. And if you ever find that you don’t have the answers, its time to ask more questions.