Girl, you've got style!

Photograph (Center) by  Ladida  / Edit by me

Photograph (Center) by Ladida / Edit by me

The other day I was driving by the local middle school soon after the final bell, made blatantly obvious due to the typically bare sidewalks swarming with a very particular population of 12-14 year olds.  They marched in cozy rows four-wide, causing the flanking members of each cluster to clumsily climb over packed snow banks with fervent effort to keep pace.  Heaven forbid two fall back to create a second, at that age you've got to be the leader.

I had ample time to soak in the scene, what with multiple signals of flashing yellow lights and reflective-vested patrols reminding me of my presence in a 20 mph school zone.

Scenes like this vicariously transport me back to my own tweenage (not a typo) years.  Back to the late 90's, when Seventeen magazine surpassed Sour Patch Kids as my preferred treat, and formulating style became my preoccupation.

As I moseyed through that school zone, gazing out onto a sea of boys in Sperry Topsiders (never dressed appropriately for the weather...especially here in New England) and girls in L.L. Bean Original Boots, I was reminded that every generation finds its uniform.  The arena of safety.  The things we wear on the outside to coax us into feeling like we fit in - especially at a time in our youth when self-esteem is ever entwined -scratch that, synonymous- with social acceptance.  With not a small amount of melancholy, I remember yearning for outfits in the Delia's catalogue, plucking my thick eyebrows to match the more delicate arches of my friends and those I desired to be friends with (to those hairs, I am patiently awaiting your return), and questioning questioning questioning how to meld socially with my peers while blossoming into the bright iconoclast that still lives so fiercely inside me.

It was at that moment down memory lane that a red light stopped me shy of a crosswalk.  Like a comet through a black sky - a reminder that great and wild things are out there - a solo stream of metallic light flashed in front of me.  That light was a young girl running across the street alone, wearing a gold lamé winter coat and a red backpack.  As her tip-toes leaped from asphalt to white paint, asphalt to white paint, she beamed the smile of a kid not simply celebrating her escape from school walls, but of throwing herself towards what feels good without a shackle of abandon.

What a gift!  What maturity she radiates beyond her years!  I wanted to roll down my windows and yell after her, 

Keep going!  Keep going!  Girl, you've got style!

I think often of The Girl In The Gold Coat, as she reminds me of myself at my best: in complete pursuit of what feels good, upholding/embodying/exuding freedom, and making the sartorial choices that amplify such a life.

May we all learn from that young and brilliant babe.  Let's style our lives with less consideration for what keeps us awkwardly stomping through the snow to "keep pace" with our peers, but release our shackles so that we can run so far ahead with bounding gleeful steps we become truly outta sight.

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