Happy Halloween, my pets. I'm clicking away at my keyboard with shiny red finger nails painted specially for the '60s housewife get up I sported on Friday. Black lace cocktail dress that belonged to my great grandmother and somehow fits me perfectly, with a curved neckline resting just beneath my collar bones, a high waist, and a layer of lace falling at my knee. Paired with a last-minute tailor-made plaid apron courtesy of my mom, black peep toe pumps (pain included), fake cigarette, luxurious feather duster, and of course, pearls. It came together deliciously and cost me a grand total of $13.
In a way I feel like I'm currently trying to put my life together the way I put a Halloween costume together. The image I have of myself living in San Francisco is so constructed that it's almost unrecognizable. I have this idea and to make it real I need a number of garments and accessories: a job, an apartment, a bicycle, maybe an iPhone, and Etsy shop, a favorite coffee spot. The costume is me living the life I want to live in the city I want to live in. It's like many Halloween costumes in that the idea is the easy part; you get all excited like "Yeah! It'll be brilliant!" and then realize you don't know how to make, say, a Marge Simpson wig or a Ghostbusters proton pack. The idea dissolves and you go with something you already have.
My friend Anne once told me to start acting and looking like the person I want to become, and eventually I'll just find my way there. Eventually it will no longer be a costume, but real. This is how we build our identity over time, isn't it? Some of it is organic, and some of it, calculated down to every detail. Down to fake cigarettes and red nail polish. At first it feels like you're playing dress-up, and then it becomes so comfortable and familiar you can't remember being any other way.
While I already have one element of my costume -- the job -- after a month I still feel like even that is somehow pretend, like I'm faking it or something. I walk through the Financial District every day and while I love it -- the industriousness of it all, looking up every block or so to where the buildings meet the sky -- I somehow feel like I don't belong, like it's a secret club and people notice me on the streets and think, what is she doing here?
Actually, though, building a new life for yourself is like a Halloween party also in that you really can be whoever the hell you want to be. It might take time, creativity, and 20,000 email responses to Craigslist room-for-rent ads, but in the end the costume is yours to wear. And if you really want, you can be something different every year. The people you meet may not know it, but you'll still just be you, whatever that is.