Geranium leaf earrings, hoops, rose-gold.

Dancing, dangling, sometimes playing

peek-a-boo between strands of hair,

sometimes on full peacock display.

I don’t know this part well – not yet – but

some part of me is pleased with their weight,

with their size, with their molten veins,

how they echo the shape of the

scarlet poppies embroidered on my blouse,

all at once delicate and punchy.

I planned this outfit carefully for the occasion:

An introvert, needing to welcome

fifty-plus people I’ve never met,

my role is to support, to hopefully

leave them feeling

seen and heard and cared for.

An experiment:

Can color extrovert for me?

How do I feel in my red?

How do I feel with a part of myself

that I usually keep private

on visual display?

I feel secure.

Back at home, I am asked:

“Did anyone comment on your outfit?”

“No.”

We love reasons and in an effort

to support, the conversant offers,

“In that crowd, big hoops like that

might seem ‘white trash.'”

“Maybe,” I say neutrally.

And I feel fine.

There’s nothing to defend.

Truthfully, I felt neither admiration nor derision

from those I welcomed that night,

but it doesn’t really matter;

that isn’t my destination and

that’s not why I did it.

It’s not that praise wouldn’t feel good,

nor that being shamed would necessarily

be pain-free.

It’s simply this:

To find that I don’t actually need

anyone else’s validation

to be myself –

to feel strong and content in that knowing –

that is what it feels like not to be hungry.

 

My test-drive photo, pre-event

 

Photo of scarlet geraniums by Stefek Chmielewski on Unsplash