So about six months ago I got a pair of those dimestore glasses because I was doing some very fine embroidery that my then forty-three-year-old eyes needed a little help with. Noticing that reading in the evenings was becoming a bit of a strain, I started using them for reading as well. Recently I realized that the dimestore glasses weren’t always quite as effective as they could be – someone pointed out that my vision might be different in each eye (which turned out to be true, if only slightly), so I thought, okay, I’ll go get checked for glasses. Which I did, and which glasses I will pick up sometime today. At which time I will become something new: A Person Who Wears Glasses.
After Ben and I dropped Ryan off the other night after the movie, I suddenly realized that he is one of my first new friends who only knows me as A Married Person.
That’s just weird.
But it got me to thinking about identity, one of my favorite things to think about, and how aspects of our identity are constantly changing, and how others see us, and blah di bloo. I, of course, have been adjusting to the idea of me being A Married Person for almost a year now, still giggling a little when either of us uses the word husband or wife, still contemplating what all those words mean in conjunction with my life. Anyway the Ryans, present and future, have no concept of the me of the 70s 80s and 90s, when I was A Single Person. I can tell them about it of course, but in some ways it’s kind of like saying to your kids anything that starts with “When I was your age” – there may not be a lack of credibility so much as the presence of irrelevance. “Well, you’re not a teenager anymore.” “Well, you’re married now.” Irrelevant or not, for anyone who wasn’t there, I feel compelled to say that I was Very Very Single For An Extremely Long Time.
So but which being this Married With Glasses Person is even more weird, because it’s one thing to think about what my identity means to me, but another to think about what it means to someone else. Which I suppose is more or less impossible to know entirely. But it makes me think of all the identities come and gone that people once knew me as, or only know me as now. I used to Have Bangs. I had them for so long that very few people knew me before. Like, Nina is pretty much it. I had them so long I wondered if I could ever be Someone Without Bangs. Seriously. Figuring a move to the Midwest was as good a time as any to find out, I grew out my bangs, and became Someone Without Bangs. It was a transition. I also Got A Tattoo. But so the point is, pretty much everyone but the only person I knew in Chicago before I moved here knows me only without bangs or ink, and since I started getting blonde highlights shortly after that, you can go as far calling me A Blonde as well. Many do, but until I go platinum (not likely) I’ll continue to be a little startled when people call me that. I mean, I have a mirror, but I still see a brunette. Ben is in a group of people who only know me as A Blonde Without Bangs.
There’s also a whole bunch of people who only know me since I’ve become A Published Author, but of course I was A Struggling Writer for so many years that this one is only just beginning to sink in after four years. But it brings me around to a point about whether the essential Betsyness of me trumps all these different identities.
There are also people who never knew me truly happy, or only just began to. Mom comes to mind. I suppose that gets into a whole nother area (BTW, I think I might have to campaign for “nother” as a legitimate word to go in the dictionary), but I was so depresso in New York, and slowly came out of that in Chicago over a long period of time. Most people in Chicago know me as pretty happy, and I’m all too – er, happy – to proclaim myself A Happy Person. I have no issue letting go of my days as An Unhappy Person. Needless to say, there are any number of identities I’m leaving out here for the sake of letting you finish your coffee.
So I guess anyone who meets me until the next identity change will think of me as A Happy Tattooed Blonde Married Published Author Without Bangs Who Wears Glasses.