I first saw this picture during one of my babysitting jobs as a young teenager. I don’t remember much, but the dad had been one of those geeky sorts who liked computers, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars, so a large copy of this painting was hanging in the front room that was intended for guests (not children).
After putting the kids in bed, I tiptoed downstairs to study it. I loved the solemnity of the scene, the folds of shimmering fabric of the woman’s dress, and the way her long hair caught the light. It was beautiful.
As I grew, I learned to hide a number of things while out in public. No one knew that I liked The Chronicles of Narnia, Neopets, or The Legend of Zelda. I wasn’t outgoing enough to obtain any sort of popularity with the normal kids, but the stereotypical geeks saw me as too “flighty” to have anything to do with me. As an outcast, I did everything I could to blend in and be invisible, because, as I so painfully learned, people are capable of enormous cruelty towards each other.
The image of the woman and the knight was permanently in my head. I wanted to grow my hair out, but was too scared. I bought shirts with flouncy sleeves whenever I could, but always defaulted to t-shirts when it came to school or work. The idea of being Obviously Different on a daily basis was terrifying.
Until skinny jeans and messy buns came along.
I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.
It was too far away from what had literally taken my breath away several years before.
I KNEW what I thought was beautiful, and fashion was moving in the exact opposite direction. I balked at the idea of following along just to be invisible.
This happened during a major transitional period in my life, so while I was busy dropping out of college and eloping with my soulmate, I embraced being Different. I quit wearing jeans and t-shirts altogether, and that opened the floodgates for everything that was me.
Video games, fantasy novels, horror movies, sewing, pink, glitter, etc. All of it. I became myself, inside and out, no matter where I was. I quit hiding.
Sometimes it’s still awkward. I’m still introverted, after all, and people can’t help but notice me out in public. Not only do I wear unique clothing, I have a growing number of children running around me as well. I often don’t know what to say in reply to the comments I get — especially the compliments. One thing is certain though: my family and I are memorable.
And I still aspire to be that serene woman draped in shimmering fabric with cascading locks.