I just love Denton. It’s home to two colleges. It has a thriving local music scene and tons of talented local artists. It is home to multiple festivals a year and its citizens are so fiercely protective of its unique downtown area that no national chain has any real hope of survival on the square (sorry-not-sorry, Subway).
Denton is a casual town. Most days, you could walk into almost any store downtown in your pajama pants, and no one would blink an eye (and thank goodness for that, because Saturdays are for pajamas, even if I have errands to run). When I moved here over twenty years ago from a small town in the panhandle, I had to adjust my perspective of what certain expectations meant. First, most invitations (and by “invitations,” I do mean “fliers”) didn’t mention dress at all. That blew my mind. And when they did, they didn’t always mean what I grew up believing they meant. “Formal attire” could mean actual formal wear, but it was more likely that it was just a request to wear a dress or slacks. And “casual dress” was less likely a call for a nice shirt and slacks than it was a reminder to wear shoes.
I like that about Denton.
Sometimes, though, I wear pearls.
I shied away from them for a while when I first moved here, because pearls – even the costume strands that I wear most often – really fancy up an outfit. It’s hard to look casual in pearls. And when you don’t look as casual as the environment, it’s hard not to stick out. And it’s hard not to feel out of place when you stick out (and when you’re also 18 – in retrospect, that was probably more of a factor than the jewelry). And most of the time, I didn’t need any extra help feeling out of place.
But one day, I pulled my favorite earrings out of my jewelry box and put them on again. Just two little pearls – one in each ear. With such a simple change, I felt grounded. I felt like me.
Pearls understand me.
Pearls are troublemakers. They start out as an irritation. They are a grain of sand that sneaks into an oyster’s shell, and instead of feeling contrite and meekly excusing themselves when discovered, they stubbornly remain, forcing their environment to adjust to them and growing into something beautiful out of the impact they have.
Pearls are simple yet elegant. They know that they don’t have to make a big splash to be heard or noticed. Pearls are the kind of grown-up I aspire to be. In today’s episode of First World Problems, I admit that I find jewelry shows and stores challenging. Most of the pieces are much more complicated than my preferred style, which is all clean lines and simplicity. If I’m wearing something other than that, it is probably a gift, a uniform, a costume, or an obnoxious plea for attention.
[soapbox tangent] Lest anyone be tempted to make a preference into a rule, let me be clear. Some people look gorgeous in bold patterns and intricate designs, and I expect that their style, while different from mine, does exactly for them what mine does for me. It makes them feel beautiful. It is a visual reminder that they are a presence in this world and that said presence is a contribution, not a liability. There is not a best way to dress. Whatever makes you feel at home in your skin, do or wear that thing. I am 100% in favor of that. [/end soapbox]
A few months ago, I was driving home from an event that called for something a little dressier than my usual attire. It was a sunny day, but the air was chilly, just like I like it to be. When I got in my car, I took down my hair, rolled down my windows, and turned on the radio. With the sun on my arms, the wind in my hair, music in my ears, and pearls around my neck, I was at home in my soul long before I was home in reality.