What to Wear

According to commercials, the success of your education relies on one thing: the right supplies. Namely, the right first-day-of-school outfit.

The logic of the marketing industry is that stylish clothes fill students with confidence, giving them the buoyancy and courage they need to swagger through the school year.

Last year, for the first day of college (ever!) I wore a cute pink pocket tee with dark skinny jeans.

This year, my sorority issued an “outfit schedule” for the first two weeks of classes.

They have legitimate reasons for doing this: increased presence on campus, boost pre-rush spirit, etc.

Rebellion was my natural reaction.

I have several pictures of school events where everyone is obediently wearing the maroon “uniform” shirt for United Methodist Preschool and I’m rocking a yellow shirt and overalls or a bright blue sundress or something equally anarchistic.

I like to look cute. And I hate being told what to do.

But I’m not the same girl who walked into her first class with feigned bravado. I only had a few acquaintances and no true friends (yet). I was adrift, with no identity outside of my own inherent charms, which (honestly) mostly consisted of a non-intimidating resting face and the willingness to go along with any activity that I didn’t have moral objections to.

Now, I am a part of something. Many things, actually: I am life editor and A&E co-editor for our school newspaper; treasurer of the broadcasting society; secretary of the Rutledge Honorary History Society; a mentor for handicapped students; and Sisterhood Enrichment Team leader and student government representative for my sorority.

I am quite possibly involved in too many things.

We, as a society, place a lot of responsibility on clothes to communicate both who we are and who we want to become. I am proud of everything that I am a part of and glad to represent them, even if it’s only by wearing a t-shirt.

And if that means following an outfit schedule, then I guess I’m ok with that.

Isn’t family – sisterhood – sometimes about forcing a smile and agreeing to go along with whatever they have planned?

One value that my sorority emphasizes is confidence. A childhood full of watching “What Not to Wear” taught me that it can be expressed through clothes, but confidence ultimately comes from the individual – not the outfit.

Take that, marketing majors.

Hair Today, Blonde Tomorrow

My hair evolution. Yes, I deliberately skipped over the awkward middle school years.
My hair evolution. Yes, I deliberately skipped over the awkward middle school years.

A revolution raged across the country. Like their forefathers had centuries earlier, the oppressed masses fought for equality. They didn’t fight with a guillotine, but with scissors. This war wasn’t poverty vs. luxury, but tradition vs. well, fashion.

I’ll get back to French history in a second. Right now, I am having a crisis: my hair.

When I was a tyke, my skin was tan, my eyes were blue, and my hair was almost white. Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten older, my skin has gotten lighter, my eyes have gotten greener, and my hair has gotten darker.

Eventually, I’ll look like a green-eyed Snow White.

Living in Tennessee during the school year felt miserable. It was cold the entire spring semester. So, from the end of fall semester to the end of spring semester, I left my dorm as little as possible.

Since it didn’t see the sun, my hair became darker.

“It’s true,” my friend agreed. “You looked like Malibu Barbie when you first came here. Now your hair looks red.”

I’ve started thinking about bleaching it, which isn’t something I’ve ever had to consider about before. For no real reason, I highlighted my hair once before – in 8th grade – which proved to be a mistake, like most of the decisions I made during that era. It was a time of experimentation and awkwardness and the two often went hand-in-hand. The result was a yellow mop that made my face look bright pink.

Hair is a form of self-expression. That revolution I mentioned earlier was the genesis of the bobbed hairstyle. When women in France began bobbing their hair, they were disowned by their families, even run out of town. Did that stop them? Hecks, no. They sullenly pointed to the French savior, Joan of Arc, who made the bobbed cut a symbol of girl power and their efforts created a style sensastion; with the arrival of World War I, it became enormously popular.

But it’s not just that I prefer the lighter blonde look. My hair is lighter when I’m outside, when I’m at the beach or by the pool or just enjoying the outdoors. Basically, my hair is lightest when I’m happiest. When life isn’t coming crashing down on me. When I’m enjoying myself.

I suppose I should embrace my darker look. It represents change. It represents overcoming challenges. It represents the new era of my life.

But, like any borderline hippie, wannabe Barbie, I’m dousing it in lemon juice and spending every spare second basking in the sunshine.

Viva la revolution?

Or maybe just evolution.

When You Don’t Say a Thing

Sunrises

Running on the beach is one of my favorite things to do.

But, sometimes, it’s also one of the hardest things to do.

And I don’t mean physically.

It seems almost sacrilegious to run past a glittering horizon, earphones shoved into my ears while it chases after me, calls to me, begs me to notice it, to photograph it, to write about it.

Every morning, I find myself rising earlier to get to the beach, to see the sunrise, to have time to capture the peace that the beach invites.

My bare feet noiselessly pound on the coarse sand, rubbing the balls of my feet and the tip on my toes. I always start running toward theshelledit sun, watching it timidly peek over the horizon. After shocking itself with its beautiful reflection in the waves, it serenely floats to the top of the sky in a bright blaze of pink and golden glory. Then I turn my back to it and run away from the wind, immediately breaking out in a hard sweat.

When I turn around again, the sun is a scarlet ball of flame, blinding me with its radiance. I shuffle and kick my feet in the water, collecting shells, navigating the cloud of translucent jellyfish that washed up on shore, and slowly meander about a mile and a half to the weathered, wooden door that separates the beach from the line of beach houses.

Door2Yesterday, as I walked back to the villa, I kept listening to Allison Kraus, “When You Say Nothing at All.” It fits the peaceful, loving feeling I get from being near the ocean. This is where the people I love the most come together. It’s not just a place. It is a silent witness to squealing children, running into crashing waves. It taught us that sometimes we may run headfirst into where dangers abound and find the greatest beauty and joy we could ever imagine.

Really, it’s like a cosmic love letter, sent to every corner of the world.

Try as I may I could never explain

What I hear when you don’t say a thing…