My story starts with a defining moment. It was in 1980 when, at age 14, everything started to change.
It was literally a moment, sometime before 1:00 am, when I saw the B 52’s for the first time on Saturday Night Live. They were so weird, so different from anything my friends liked listening to, looked so strange and I knew. I knew right then that my life would never be the same. I knew this was something I had to see more of, know more of, hear more of.
At that age, it’s hard to go against everything your friends are doing.
But I couldn’t get that music out of my mind. And over the span of a few months there was no going back for me. I slowly went deeper and deeper into the world of new wave and punk rock. I changed my appearance as much as my school would allow. And one by one, my friends dropped me. They didn’t understand the music I was listening to. They didn’t want to understand it or hear it. They didn’t like the look I was starting to have. They were content with being mirror images of each other. Reading the same books, listening to the same music, dressing the same way. I couldn’t do it. I tried, but I couldn’t. I found me. I found me that night trying to stay awake to watch Saturday Night Live.
Before too long I found a whole different group of friends, amazing lifelong friends. We were the freaks. Back in the early 80’s that is what we were known as. Not so much by other kids in school, at least not that I’m aware of, but by other people when we were out. Looking back it seems so silly. But people fear what they don’t know. They judge by what they saw and didn’t care to know the person. We were stared at a lot then, judged and looked down on.
Unfortunate things happened because of those judgments.
Small things like name calling or people clutching their children as we walked by like we like we were going to eat them or something. To being seated in the back of restaurants by management so other patrons wouldn’t have to see us. To really horrible things like being chased by 3 cars loads of teenage boys who managed to get my car stopped and then bashed it with baseball bats, breaking out the back window and potentially really hurting my passengers. We were lucky no one was hurt that night. We did nothing but walk into a McDonald’s that night.
Whether it’s race, sexual orientation, or my stupid ass purple hair and tattoo’s. Yes, it’s 31 years later. But like I said, there was no going back for me. I will always be this person. When you do find yourself, why would you ever go backwards?
Nowadays I don’t get as much stink-eye.
Some – yes. And there are still people who judge and look down on me even though they don’t know or want to know me. If they bothered to get to know me and not make snap judgements they would know I went to Catholic school for 12 years. That I started working at age 16 and paid my way through almost everything I ever did. That I had an amazingly close relationship with my Grandmother up until she passed away 3 years ago. That I took a year out of my life to care for my ailing father. That I love animals, zebras in particular. That I have my own business. None of that matters. What mattered then and matters now is that my hair is purple. I have tattoo’s. I listen to punk rock music. So what! At this point in my life I’m pretty secure in who I am and I like her. I like her a lot.
At 45 years old, I think it’s about damn time that I like me!
This post was a guest post written by Lalia Voce (not her real name), an American writer, food lover, and zebra fan.