But I Still Look Good in Purple

When I was younger I would visit the city with my parents. Usually my sister and I wore matching oversized “dress” jackets for this special occasion… a purple one with a faux fur-lined hood comes to mind. Mom and Dad looked their best, and baby brother tagged along, white-blond hair combed to one side. We were the suburban family traipsing in (by car! gasp!) to the big city for a show, or museum, and dinner. The idea was to fit it. Look your snazziest, because in here, the people are gorgeous, near-flawless, and role models of a different kind.

Going into the city was a treat — something to look forward to, and, for our youthful imaginations, an adventure out of which dreams were made. And forget Broadway. Broadway was just about as much as my little heart could handle. Oh, how I wanted to be on that stage! And if there was a kid my age singing and dancing, what I felt was admiration mixed with pain: I can do that!
I remember reaching the age when I didn’t have to hold my dad’s hand to cross a city street. THAT was a day. I kind of peeked over my shoulder, double checking that they knew I was flying solo. Me and my sister, two doe-eyed, curly-haired (Not natural curls. Remember, this is a special occasion.) blonds leading the family past a yielded pack of yellow taxis, delivery trucks, and black suburbans.
So now, here I am. Same City. Same girl. New sense of belonging. I still see those people. The ones who never seem to have an ugly day. The ones whose make up is so smooth I actually gawk at them as they walk in the opposite direction. The ones whose legs run miles long, with the perfect outfits, naturally. Every day is a fashion show, and so I am never bored walking to work. Outfit after outfit strolls by, and for each one I take note: must get those boots; remember to look for that jacket; love her scarf!!
How sad, really, now that I think about it. I have completely lost my childhood fascination with things actually worth looking at. I’m surrounded by some of the most interesting architecture in the country and all I can see is clothing worn by my co-inhabitants.
Anyway. Today I realized that I am living a Broadway show. I am living Thoroughly Modern Millie. What I like about that show, aside from the clever tap number in the first act, is that it’s not a story about a girl who wants to make it big on stage. Millie gives some validity to the often scoffed-at desk job. After all, not everyone can end up an actor. Thoroughly Modern Millie is a show about a girl who moves from her “one light town” to Manhattan, “The Eighth World Wonder.”
Okay, where I come from there are about 15 stop lights that I can think of, however, moved into the city I have, and embracing it I am. I am no longer a guest. I am a working part of this bustling community. And while I am surrounded by sophisticated fashion sense and blemish-free beauties, every so often I see a man in a suit, tie, and…backpack? A woman wearing a blouse, skirt, and… running sneakers??
Yes, people actually have to function here. From now on I’m wearing my kicks to work, because that’s how to really fit in in New York.
Photo: Meghan Cavanaugh
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