Aventures of the Masked Canary
Light, bright, sparkly and fresh. Ooh, I think I’ll go in there. A quick scan tells me it’s way out of my league. Even better! Absorb the fabulousness. OMG, the excitement is rising. One, two, three… and breathe normally. Phewww! Opting for a quick but efficient anti-clockwise glide around the fabulousness, some bejewelled napkin rings call out to me. I was here first, I scream silently at the selfishness of the other shoppers. I do a quick mental audit of my life and decide that I can indeed do without a ring of stainless steel decorated with coloured plastic. Quick, move on. What’s this rubbish in the sale? Don’t these people realise I’m on a mission?
And then it happens. Some faux fur is being caressed. By someone else who understands. By someone who is on her own mission, her own special journey. It touches her cheek, her eyes close momentarily and she exhales slowly. Our worlds have collided in that brief moment. She flits away in her long flowing blackness.
I move on and squeal inwardly at the displays of pastels and sumptuousness. Lady in black has spotted the area too and man-in-tow is obediently following her, laden with previous shopping experiences. I have some competition, someone else working the store. Someone else storing information for the next time. Someone else savouring the experience, for now.
As I pretend to look at something crucial in her general direction I notice a flash of delicate black bead-work, respectably placed with echoes of empire-line about it, but nevertheless there all the same. I notice the immaculate make-up and the head beautifully covered in purple silkiness, but covered all the same. I feel a compassion for the restrictions placed on her and admire her resourcefulness. Hmmm, I wonder, as I take in the imaginary display behind her, I quickly check out her footwear. Yes! Just as I’d hoped; black, strappy shoe-heaven. My imagination is piqued as I see a tattoo through the straps. Nah, I’m seeing things…
I step out into reality and busy myself with a mental list of “stuff I need” and remind myself how lucky I am to be able to wear and look exactly how I please. I remind myself to get some hair-dye to cover the whiteness, I remind myself to remember to wear my long, gypsy-style skirt and not wear jeans on a hot summer’s day. I could really do with covering my hair right now, just like lady in black. That’d save an annoying couple of hours reclaiming my youthful hair. My recent discovery of the cooling effect of long skirts and dresses makes me slightly annoyed as I walk along in the uncomfortable heat. I move more quickly now, wishing I was back in the suburbs, where everything is as is; everything has it’s place and everything is in it’s place. Home, where I don’t have to think, where my preconceptions aren’t challenged. I move quickly, passing all the images in shop windows of the latest uniforms of how us women should look this season. This is what you should be wearing, WEAR ME NOW. Freedom indeed.
Searching for and writing about life on the bright side of the road
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pushing sound studies into the red since 2009
196 countries, countless stories...
writing in Australia
by Jack Monroe, bestselling author of 'A Girl Called Jack'