I’ve been called a lot of names in my life. A favorite, from middle school, was “Fur”. Fortunately it had nothing to do with body hair; it was a shortened version of my last name which was deemed unpronounceable. Which is all well and good until your boyfriend starts referring to you as “Furburger”.
Back in the bling bling days of the early aughts, when J.Lo and Ben Affleck were doing their horizontal yacht thing in rap videos, I earned the slightly more palatable nickname at work: J.Fo.
As in “what’s going on in that tiny cube J.Fo?”
(that would be the cube with no windows, two computer monitors and a headset).
“Nothing much, just planning my exit strategy from this sweatshop and the name isn’t helping.”
That conversation didn’t happen but my, did I fantasize.
In one of my first blog posts I referenced one of my earlier, husband-assigned nicknames: the “pocket wife”. Both of us are at fault for our size difference; him with his ceiling-grazing stature, me with my child-sized clothing.
However, if we’re really going to get into it, one of us came this close to receiving college scholarship funding from the [blank] club of America. Size discrimination is real. I’m not saying who it was, but here’s a hint: this person never went by the name of “Fur”.
Yes, I’ve had a lot of names. But one thing I’ve never been called is “girly”.
Case in point, I arrived in this great country, ready to start my secondary education with a trunk full of ripped jeans, flannel shirts and combat boots. And, since my college friends will call me out if I don’t mention it…Birkenstocks. In many a flavor.
My assigned first year roommate, a lovely girl who’s still one of my closest friends, was fresh off the boat from her Baltimore private school, toting the equivalent number of sorbet-colored “slacks”.
This was girly on a new dimension. And after an initial adjustment period, I decided that it was some kind of fabulous.
After all, I could only dress like a teenager for so long. I was 19. Ready to conquer four years of college, internship interviews, dinner parties, and all of the other adult activities that I was supposed to be embracing.
I lost the combat boots, learned to drink my weight in colorful martinis, and bought myself some no-nonsense clothes at Ann Taylor. I even tried my hand at a neckerchief. You know the ones… made by Hermes but blessedly knocked off for shops like Filene’s Basement and T.J. Maxx.
Granted, I wore the neckerchief just once. For one of those proper internships that I’d convinced myself was essential. And I mistakenly wore it on the day that Roy Rogers died, spurring my bosses to turn the office’s full attention towards “the intern and her Roy Rogers tribute”.
Soon after the internship ended, I realized that girly ain’t my thang. I dropped the Ann Taylor shopping sprees. Returned to the ripped jeans. The boots. The shirts that seem to made from someone’s bedsheets.
I still wear the odd dress. More because I’m paranoid of succumbing to the Mom Uniform than giving into any veiled desire to dress up for the day.
But I didn’t kill girly completely. Whispers of her remain. The heels that I’ll choose for date night. The vermillion pedicures. The dainty bracelets. The fancy shampoo.
She’s there all right. And nothing brings her out more than a visit to New York City’s flower district.
I brought my two favorite girls along for the ride this week. Tough girls with girly sides. Girls with nicknames. Girls who love donuts. Girls who play soccer. Girls who love blue as much as they love pink. This place was made for them. And for me. For us. It’s beauty amidst the dirt and grime and complication of this big city.
Just the way we like it.
A few pictures: