Sorry about the title but I was furious!
It was 20 years ago. We were a 25 year old couple with long hair, tattoos and a 4 month old baby. We lived in California and we were flying home to New York for Jerry’s brother’s wedding. The airline tickets were compliments of Jerry’s mother because we didn’t have two nickels to rub together and since it was cheaper to fly redeye, we boarded the plane with our baby at 11pm.
Now, if you don’t know, Jerry Patterson and I have been together since we were 17 years old. We were married on Aug. 6th 1989, 3 years prior to boarding that flight. We settled in, organized our “baby stuff” and prepared for take off.
About 20 minutes into the flight, Jerry got up and made his way to the bathroom. While I was sitting alone with my baby, the flight attendant approached and said with a sympathetic smile, “at least you have your boyfriend to help you” I said nothing… I was crushed. I was a respectable, committed, dedicated woman on an airplane with a man and a baby and because of our “alternative” appearance she assumed that we had a baby out of wedlock. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having a baby out of wedlock, I’m just saying that EVERY signal pointed to the fact that we were a married couple with a child! Including our wedding bands! The “sympathy” in her voice, screamed, “I AM JUDGING YOU!” and I fought the urge to yell back, “BITCH, GET ME A DRINK”.
I have been “flying my flag” for as long as I can remember.
You know what I mean, right?
Being myself. Dressing the way I want to dress, looking the way I want to look. I have been writing the lyrics to my own song and singing that song at the top of my lungs since I started taking pride in who I am (hmmm…. I should write about THAT transition soon)
I do not conform. I wouldn’t conform then and I absolutely will not conform now. Women are so much more interesting when their insides and outsides match. When we conform, what we are doing is hiding away our insides. I did that in middle school. I was terrified for anyone to “see” me. I wanted to blend in desperately because my “inside” needed protection. Needed protection???? FROM WHAT?! From ridicule? I got ridiculed anyway. From bullying? I got bullied anyway. From judgment?! I got judged anyway.
So I learned it just didn’t matter! Love me, hate me, like me, don’t like me… it just doesn’t matter. I know me. It’s MY song that I’m singing and I don’t need anyone else to sing along. In fact, I don’t want you to sing along. I want you to write your own!