In many ways I have always been late to the party: Slow to pick up on fashion trends and clueless when it came to knowing how to style my hair or apply makeup. For several years I wore the same pair of earrings everyday. I can recall observing the popular girls in my class as early as the 6th grade and making mental notes of what they were wearing; however, I had no idea how to replicate that look for myself. None whatsoever. Coming from a family of limited means with six girls meant we shopped for clothing and shoes at second-hand stores. Occasionally we were allowed to purchase something new but even then being small and skinny I just wasn’t able to pull it off. When it came to how I presented myself to the world I always fell short. Now that I’ve got the means my clothes closet runneth over. And while I’m still relatively small and petite I’m better able now to pull together a look that tends to flatter rather than detract.
While all my friends were excitedly waiting to get their learner’s permits and driver’s licenses I was reticent and fearful.
During my junior and senior year of high school I was surprised to hear my classmates discussing college. College? They may as well have been talking in excruciating detail about the lunar orbit or analyzing Greek mythology or explaining the social structure of the ancient Mayans. I dutifully registered for classes at the local community college but chickened out and cancelled prior to the fall semester. At the age of 34 years I decided to quit my job and go to college. It was the best decision of my life. Being a non-traditional student attending the state university with my soon-to-be husband (who I met at college) was an amazing experience.
When it came to drinking and carousing I was also a late bloomer. I was stunned to learn of my classmates (and even — horrors! — my younger sisters) drinking in high school. Pregnant, married and divorced by the time I was 21 I managed to make up for lost time. But I was woefully naïve and stupid about the whole thing.
As a child I was a very picky eater. Sweet corn. I’ll pass. Strawberries? Yuck. Those seeds! Onions? Are you kidding me? Stuffing at Thanksgiving? No way. I didn’t eat cheese until I was in my early 20’s (it was a great accompaniment to the Malt Duck my girlfriends and I liked to drink).
Before I met my husband I dated a guy who detested my reluctance to eat certain foods. So shortly after I met Bill he offered to run and get us burgers. I was hesitant to tell him I wanted mine plain with NOTHING on it. I cringed a little, waiting for the backlash. To my utter surprise I learned that he was just as picky an eater as I was. (I knew then it was meant to be).
In the twenty-three years we’ve been together we’ve both become bolder and more adventurous with our appetites. Strawberries, onions (caramelized even!), stuffing, cheese (glorious cheese!), sweet corn on the cob slathered with butter and coated with salt & pepper — yes, yes, yes — and more! While I draw the line at tomatoes — yes, some things never change — I’m more willing now to experiment with a larger and larger variety of foods.
The upside to all of this of course is while others have had many more years enjoying all of these things, for me it’s relatively new and therefore exciting and awesome and delicious. Late to the party? Perhaps. But it’s still a party nonetheless and I welcome it all with open arms.