Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A Resemblance

It was some years ago. I was in Year 12. I had successfully managed to overload and underload my workload at the same time. I had four subjects at school (English, French, Maths Methods, Music) and two subjects out of school (Latin, University Music). It had the ultimate effect of two spare periods each day to laze about, drink Diet Coke with a Lemon Twist and complain about how overworked I was. It's a shame, really, because I will always regret how I performed in Year 12. Some might say that the lazing about and coke swilling had an adverse effect on my overall performance. This might be so. But this entry isn't about my deplorable lack of effort, persistence or foresight. This entry is about my vanity. That old chestnut.

It was during one of my spare periods that someone told me I shared a resemblance to a famous lady. It sounds odd but this very rarely happened to me. Perhaps famous lady people just didn't share any characteristics to me, but it wasn't as if I had any desire to share a vague facial similarity with a famous lady person. It just highlighted that very universal truth, that all famous lady people are beautiful. I had come to terms with by own ugliness, if I can use that term. I didn't have any desire to tan my pasty white skin or else bleach my dark dark hair. I knew if I did, I would probably resemble many of the other girls in my year, but I would be betraying the freak in me: the girl with buck teeth and braces who loved Freddie Mercury far far too much.

It happened when I was finishing up a Latin lesson. I was saying my goodbyes when Nigel's wife suddenly said, "You look like a George Romney painting." She shuffled off to search for her art book in a back room of the house. She shortly returned with the page open.

I didn't know what to say. I could never gracefully accept compliments, especially in that instance. She was so stunning and although I could see the resemblance, in the colouring, in the facial structure, in the expression, I could never admit it. It would be denying that ugliness that I had become so accustomed to. I am ugly. I will always be ugly. I cannot resemble someone so beautiful.

Years later, it happened again when we came across her in Art History. Her name was Emma Lady Hamilton and she was the frisky mistress of Lord Nelson. I developed a very real affection for her actually, I liked her wanton tendencies and her interest in recreating the more bawdy episodes in classical antiquity. A group of us would be sitting in a tutorial, looking at a very similar George Romney painting when Joan pointed out the resemblance. I didn't know what to do when they all started looking closely at the lithograph, then looking closely at my face. I'm sure they were lying when they said they could see it too.

At this point, there is a twist in this story. I stopped thinking of myself as an ugly person, I'm not quite sure how. It might have been the dramatic haircut or the attractive boyfriend, but I could look in the mirror and not see myself as ugly, not as I once was. I had changed. I don't know what it was about being with him, but he somehow changed my perception of self, the understanding I had of my own beauty. Perhaps it was because I found him so completely and utterly beautiful. Maybe he said something nice about my appearance at some point. Whatever it was, I can't really remember.

The odd thing is that we once talked about this very topic, resemblances. It was on MSN where we mutually agreed that he looked like a cross between Julian Casablancas and Freddie Mercury, though I don't think he was too pleased about the Freddie Mercury part to be completely honest with you. When I sent him that picture of Emma Lady Hamilton, there was a pause in the conversation. "I don't see it." He said. I couldn't believe it. Why could he not see it? Does he not think me beautiful? What the FREAK?! It was his refusal to accept the very resemblance I refused to accept, in addition to his indifference for Queen's second album and his eventual infidelity which would make me dislike him very very much (although, probably not as much as I should).

For my reader(s): Who do you look like? Do you feel that this resemblance makes you any more of a beautiful person than you would otherwise be?

Saturday, January 2, 2010

I Should Have Loved You More

I recently confronted a boy I once knew, my best friend. I went to his house, armed with a letter in anticipation that he would refuse to speak to me. The entire context seemed so odd, this boy knew me better than I knew myself. He loved and encouraged me, then it all fell apart somehow. He eventually fell in love with a more worthy girl, then I fell in love with someone I wasn't meant to. I don't know how it happened, but I know that he will never forgive me for my purported mistreatment. I know he will never forgive me for refusing to commit to him romantically. I know he will never forgive me for falling in love with someone so similar to him. With that being said, I know that I must forgive myself if I ever wish to move on.

That night, he did agree to speak to me. It was so strange. For that half an hour, standing in the starlit courtyard of his apartment, I felt so totally overwhelmed. I couldn't believe he was looking me in the eye for the first time in ten months. Every few moments, I kept on exclaiming how different it was, how strange it felt. It was a different person standing before me, this wasn't my best friend. His body had changed, his posture was different. I don't know what the hell happened to his speech patterns but suddenly he had a lisp. He said that he never thought of me, that I was simply a blank to him. I just didn't exist. I said I admired him for being so strong-willed, for I could never forget the past so easily.

I write all this here because I have been thinking of the evolution of identity. Can you ever truly let go of the person you were? Do the matters that once touched you in the past suddenly bear no meaning once you adopt a new identity? What happens if that new identity is so thoroughly exciting and convincing, so brimming with musical and emotional success? It reminds me of the last words of a lost musician I once knew:

"That person up on that stage isn't me. In some ways it never was. The projection that you might have about that personality is not in the member of the band you see up there. He's just a puppet. I've long since stopped inhabiting him. I don't belong in there and I never did really."

There will never be a satisfying conclusion to all this, I will never find the answers for which I seek. But I know that I desire that which seems to be impossible for my mood and temperament. I want to change myself as he has, to make myself an identity that is so thoroughly exciting and convincing, so brimming with musical and emotional success. I want to make it so exciting and convincing that nobody will ever care to remember what I was like. How wretched and depressed I once was. I want to be the intimidating one, fearless and without any past.

I want to forget you.