It never ceases to amaze me how much I keep changing. Deep down, I’m the same old Mel in some ways. But lots of things have been evolving over time, especially of late. (See The (R)Evolution of Mel.)
Lately I get claustrophobic around things that seem too traditional, status quo, or perfect. I have a growing distaste for prim and proper, cookie cutter areas. While I still have OCD that creeps into my own personal space, I allow for more character in decor than I used to like.
So, what is my problem? Maybe it’s the uniformity of some suburban houses and lawns, the keeping up with the Joneses attitude, sameness of dress, blandness of viewpoints, or simple lack of excitement found in normalcy.
I like seeing weirdos on the street, admiring some good graffiti, never knowing who will say hi to me, or discovering unchartered nooks and crannies. I chuckle because when I saw American Beauty for the first time in 1999, I did not understand the guy video taping the plastic bag blowing in the wind. And now I’m becoming the off kilter semi-artsy being who enjoys that stuff.
I find myself cringing at Northface jackets, a constant stream of suits and ties, fancy possessions. While conforming may be necessary in some workplace settings and formal events, must we always chase after the same things?
I have nightmares about a 1984-ish world where we all wear the same black and gray uniform, day in and day out. I want color and excitement! I crave a smidgen of chaos to keep me on my toes.
In Jonathan Franzen’s most recent novel “Freedom”, I was drawn to the following exerpt:
Although he’d played in D.C. often enough over the years, its horizontality and vexing diagonal avenues never ceased to freak him out. He felt like a rat in a governmental maze here. For all he could tell from the back seat of his taxi, the driver was taking him not to Georgetown but to the Israeli embassy for enhanced interrogation. The pedestrians in every neighborhood all seemed to have taken the same dowdiness pills. As if individual style were a volatile substance that evaporated in the vacuity of D.C.’s imperative directed at Katz in his beat-up biker jacket. Saying: die.
Powerful stuff for me. No doubt someone reading this is rolling his or her eyes, because unconventionalism itself has become a trend. As with many cultural issues, Southpark hit the nail on the head with their episode about the goth kids who complained about conformists, yet were all conforming to a new normal for their group. I’m not being different to be cool here.
Maybe uniqueness, dirtiness, and unpredictability comfort me because of their authenticity. Nothing is covered up by a white picket fence. It’s wide open for everyone to see.