I’m sitting cross-legged in my office chair, in my tiny cubicle. From here, I can see out the windows that line one side of the office, and it is undeniably a dreadfully, dreary Thursday. There is no sunshine; the sky is a canvas of smoke and ash. The leaves have yet to come in on the trees, so their naked branches are dancing in the wind and the raindrops race each other down the window pane. Looking down, I realize that the brightest thing in sight are my turquoise pants.
Later, I am sifting through my Facebook photos, looking for a new picture to illuminate my Desktop- something I like to change once a week to keep up my morale. As I scroll down, from most recent to older, I see a major transition in the amount of colorful clothing I am wearing. My pictures from the last six to eight months show me clad in bright blues or greens to highlight my eyes, and purples (my favorite color of all). There are even some hot pinks, patterns and vibrant accessories.
This observation may seem banal to the layperson, but to me, it’s interesting. My ex-husband was a graphic designer and ergo very hip to color and design. While he wasn’t as adept to women’s fashions, over the years it was not uncommon for him to complain that I wore too much black. He often remarked how everything in my closet looked the same-solid black, brown or white. Anytime I brought home a new piece of plain black clothing, he would roll his eyes and say something like “Oh good. Another black cardigan. You don’t have anything like that.” Sarcasm was his strong suit.
My defense (although in retrospect it was silly that I had to defend my clothing choices to my husband), was that black was always safe. Black always was in style, always looked good, always easy to accessorize…should I ever decided to accessorize beyond my silver Tiffany studs. So, I generally ignored him and continued on with my plain Jane clothing, claiming that I was going for an Audrey Hepburn vibe.
So it’s infinitely interesting to me, that I have been gone from my home, and my husband, for two months short of a year and around the same time, my clothing became more vibrant. Analyzing this (since what else is there exactly to do on a gloomy Thursday such as this?) I could think of a million reasons for this change. My tastes could be changing as I am growing up. Summer has just past, where brighter colors are more prominent, and losing 30, rapid, pounds from the stress of divorce left me in need of new summer clothes. Some of my coworkers took me shopping (since they claimed I was dressing too old for my age and that was unacceptable with my new single status). Perhaps this was entirely their influence.
However, what if the reason, was my sudden shift in mentality? The emotional transition of freeing myself; letting myself go. Many of my friends, especially those who have known me for a long time, have commented on how much more energy and zest they see in me these days, despite the less than ideal situations divorce can bring. Even with all the pain and confusion and change, I’ve heard that I smile more, laugh harder and, in general, have become a more vibrant person. And honestly, I would tend to agree. I am much happier now that I’ve broken out of the mold that I thought my life should be. In fact, I’ve gotten rid of that-and any- notion of molds all together.
In a marriage ceremony I attended this year, a Native American story was told where an old woman said to her partner, “I like me best when I am with you.” This really struck me because I did not like the person I was in my marriage. I was incredibly uptight, depressed, and difficult, especially those last six months as I struggled to put the painful pieces together of what I was feeling about my marriage and why. This is why part of me wishes that D* could see this-see how much I’ve changed and how much better off we are without each other. See how much I have let go and learned to love life, irregardless of my sometimes less than ideal circumstances.
I guess, the overarching point is that I wish he could see that this divorce has changed me the way a life-threatening illness can change people; giving them a new lease on life. And this is not because I want to show off or twist the proverbial knife, but because I desperately want him to understand why I had to leave. I want him to see that, with him, I was not myself; I was not the best me I could be, and I was not living life the way it was meant to be lived. Instead, I was playing it as safe as my all-black closet. Hiding the imperfections instead of fixing or embracing them. Always coloring in the lines and following the rules. Being sure not to misstep and disappoint even if that meant being ordinary and never changing. Blending myself into the shadows and accepting life was meant to be as plain, bleak and emotionless as the color black itself.
Today, I see the sunshine even on the cloudiest of days. Today, I am me.
Today, I don’t wear black.