Collage-ing: understanding what I’m doing… exactly

Since turning 26 last April, the opening monologue of Jack Nicholson’s character in Something’s Gotta Give rarely leaves the background of my thoughts:

…the younger woman, He describes,

(is) that fleeting age when everything just falls into place.

It’s magic time, and it can render any man… anywhere… absolutely helpless.

He’s talking about the women he dates. The much younger women, between that “magical age” of 25 and 30.

While on a break at work a couple months ago, I made a list. And then I went to Walmart. A disheartening outing when I discovered they don’t sell The New Yorker. *sob. But, where I was able to purchase Glamor. And Allure. And Real Simple. All magazines suitable for executing the project my list seemed to demand. Especially the one with Lauren Conrad on the cover. Allure, you rock for that one.

The list itself, titled “What it Means -to Me- to be a Woman in her late 20s” contains the following:

  • Lauren Conrad Hair
  • Essie Immaculate Nails
  • Runner, Weight Lift, Yoga
  • Lululemon Pants
  • How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days Cast
  • Something’s Gotta Give opening monologue about younger women (see above)
  • Sex and the City or just SJP in general
  • Photography
  • Townhouse
  • Vespa- preferably white
  • Ray Ban Aviators
  • Sleep in sassy nighties/lingerie slips
  • Classic Wardrobe
  • Catechism, Bible & Daily Devotional by my bedside
  • Car w/ keyless entry attached directly to the key
  • Hair & Makeup EVERY. DAY. (specifically fixed and applied in the morning)
  • Great Boyfriend (got this one covered… love my man!)
  • Belts… for seemingly every imaginable outfit
  • Adele.
  • Holly Golightly
  • “Grown up” swimsuits and sunhat
  • Potted herbs in small terracotta pots situated quaintly upon a kitchen window sill
  • Clean and Organized Car
  • Moleskin Notebooks
  • Career… not a Job

Reviewing the list, with my newly purchased magazines and poster board spread across the floor of my boyfriend’s studio apartment, I cut and glued.

So here it is:

DSC01035DSC01036       DSC01037      DSC01038       DSC01039

After reviewing the results, I realized my list is, of course, incomplete. There are so many other things that represent being a woman with her life in order. At least for me. And there are clippings I felt were associated with my list that I now really question. Like “Vicious Circles”… what is that about? Or “Real.” Or “Out of the Blue.”

Maybe conquering that list isn’t what I’m searching for, but the poster is tangible. As is perfecting that Lauren Conrad side braid thing. And for another thing, that blue poster project is something I set out to do and something I actually completed. Pretty much the first thing of that sort since my Master’s Thesis Project almost two years ago. Hurray for progress.

A painted ceiling and a poster board.

I think it has to do with this feeling I had before moving to California. And the obsession that’s become trying to find it again. In addition to my very recent realization that finding this feeling isn’t what I’m really after anyway.

It was how I felt when walking into a broken down bar in Omaha to hear a band to which only my closest friends and I had the album. The feeling when I fell asleep in the room of a house I’d lived in for three years. A house where I’d painted my bedroom a deep sexy red and the ceiling of my bathroom an obnoxious teal. A house that was mine, minus the mortgage payment, which was in my parent’s name and how ridiculous it was that a kid under the age of 21 should be given something so grand as a house of her own to live in with her closest friends, rent free. The privilege of not having to grow up quite yet. The inability to grasp what it meant to really work for something. And now, wanting that naivete back. Or thinking that’s what I needed to feel a certain way again.

The way I felt before I moved to California for graduate school and my beautifully painted house fell into the hands of renters who spill kitty litter all over the laundry room floor. For a while, it was liberating to have only boxes full of books and clothes and picture frames filling the space where I rented a room in an odd Victorian house that could have doubled for a commune. But then I moved. And moved again. And the comfort became house-less but, homelessness. And then he found me and I fell in love. Hopelessly, tearfully, exasperatedly in love and I for a while I no longer lived in boxes, but bags. Which I packed every Thursday morning and unpacked every Monday night when I returned to the Bay Area from L.A. Which is where he lived. And where I invented a new idea of home: Next to him, holding his hand. And decided to cut my cynicism and let him love me back.

Now we’re here. In a beautiful beach town near San Diego. For almost two years, we’ve been here. And I can’t hold onto anything other than my new idea of home. There is no coffee shop, no wine bar, no stretch of road that is my own. Not yet. There is no mantle where my pictures are hung. No wall on which I lean my mirrors. No bookshelf where my words can rest. Except in my car. That I bought. On my own. Which still boggles my mind. And yet, I still fill with only bags not words.

So here I am.

Two months ago I decided to learn how to do that side bang french braid thing that Lauren Conrad always does to her hair. Not sure where that desire stemmed. But it spurred my idea that I really needed to “get my s*** together.” Because young women who don’t know how to properly do their own hair obviously don’t have their shit together. I thought I could complete this process of “getting my s*** together” before turning twenty seven in April. However, as weeks passed and all I had accomplished was learning that braid and buying a bottle of Essie nail polish, (which was supposed to be sophisticated deep burgundy, but looked this side of black on my hands- to which with it on, I became neither more sophisticated nor “put together” but rather overwhelmingly immature) the shear idea of having only six months to figure myself out became daunting as well has asininely impossible. So three years became a better goal. Well, three years and some change as that is when I will turn thirty.

This is where I start. On New Years Eve, hating myself for falling into the cliche of “beginning again” at the dawn of a new year. But who’s to say even I can’t embrace an ideal. So I’ll use three magazines. A tube of scrapbook glue and a blue poster board to try to begin. And I’ll see where it leads.