I can remember you so vividly even though the many times I saw you, it was usually only once and I was very young, most instances happened almost two decades ago. You were the impossibly “cool girl”; the kind of girl surrounded by an aura of untouchability and confidence. I didn’t envy you, only admired and tried to emulate you. I’ve only met a few of your “type” and you’ve shown up in unexpected places, usually taking me by surprise and leaving me with indelible images.
One of a few particular memories, I was at an all-ages punk rock show with my brother in some dingy bar off the highway in San Antonio. At the time, I was lusting after and eyeballing the boy with the long thrash hawk wearing an immaculate white jean jacket. You pushed your way to the front of the crowd and near the stage, although it really looked like you floated up there into my vision.
You had a secret smile that you shared with me for a mere moment before looking back at the stage. Once you closed your eyes, I was pulled in by the complete relaxation on your face and the utter blissful air that surrounded you. I was always a bit insecure at these things, feeling like an imposter, not feeling “punk enough”. But I felt like you and I shared some ancient secret together while the music was pounding around us. You looked so happy, so complete, so free. You were beautiful and wild and unusual. I vowed to become a cool girl just like you.
In retrospect, it’s possible that you were on drugs, but that doesn’t lessen the impression it placed upon me. I have been slowly becoming that woman for decades now; dancing solo at a show, lost in moments of abandon, doing exactly what I want, creating pure selfish pleasure, and bouncing it off of the people around me.
You were also that girl at that party, surrounded by men, listening to music, feet in the grass, delighted at life in your pretty summer dress. I was surprised to see that you had unshaven armpits. It struck me that I could break the rules of femininity that I was just becoming more acquainted with and that I could be unconventional and utterly enchanting.
Or perhaps you walked down the halls of my high school in smudged black eye makeup and dark hair. I would come to find out that you were also super smart with a wicked sense of humor. Most things made you cock an eyebrow or curl a lip and it seemed ridiculous not to admire that. I wanted to command a room the way you did, in that wry way.
What you all exuded was sheer confidence despite any of your personal histories or abuses or rejections. I came to realize that most people become this way because they have seen trials and faced them with straightened shoulders. You all had a willingness to be as unique as you liked, facing the fear of the unknown and disapproval, craving the adventure of worlds beyond your upbringing, and uncompromising the fiber of your being.
I know now that we’ve all made mistakes, dated the wrong people, gave more than we received, doubted ourselves and our talents but we’ve come back to the craving of something new, something unexplored, something that could bring us back to ourselves over and over. Thank you for teaching me these things just by being yourself. You might never know how much of a positive impact you made on my life. I hold onto these memories when I feel discouraged and I dedicate this piece to you.