We just move to Fort Morgan, Colorado and I soon realize my skinny jeans and platform shoes make me stand out as a ‘foreigner’. This is someone I always seem to be, yet who I forever seek to hide, in an ongoing attempt to appear ‘normal’ or ‘one of the locals’.
My light skin, brown hair and accent prevented that in foreign countries and the dress and even speech, it seems, in some U.S. States. Even here, as attempts are made to modify my dress, it appears obvious that I am not from ‘here’. Maybe in a town of 11,000 that is inevitable.
On this day, I walk out of Mavericks, the newest and proudly talked about gas station in town. Located off the 76, it is new and shiny, selling frozen yogurt of various flavors and 99c sodas.
As I push open the door to step outside in my skinny jeans and heals, I lock eyes with a man loitering near the opening. I make friendly eye contact, my theory being that my smile may be the only some may have on that given day.
This gentleman appears to be around fifty and was in need of a hairbrush, a shave and a haircut. He proudly sports a pair of purple parachute sweat pants, the kind we wore in the 1980’s. They are bright, shiny, and baggy and tucked into a pair of cowboy boots.
Returning my smile, he asks, “Can I ask you a question? You look like you’re from Denver and you have style!”
Haven’t yet been to Denver, I assume my Southern California attire must resemble that of the Mile High City. Always ready to engage in conversation, I reply, “Sure, ask away!”
“Everyone here says my clothes don’t look good. But you have style, what do you think?” he asks with a smile, so certain of his choice of clothes.
In a matter of three seconds, fleeting thoughts zoom across my brain, like cars racing around a track: My clothes make me happy. They are who I am. Do I really want to wear what others wear just to be like everyone else? Who determines style? Does it matter? Style is a very personal thing. Is being different so bad?
I answer with a laugh and new found confidence, “You know what? If you like your clothes, you should wear them. That’s what I think! You should wear whatever makes you happy!”
The scraggly gray haired man smiles broadly and replies, “Thank you, Mam!”
We walk away. My husband shakes his head in awe of what he was just witness to and says, “I think God sent you to Fort Morgan for people like that.”
I laugh. Maybe God sent that man to me. To show me it’s ok to be who I am!