So there I was, sitting in a scalding hot bubble bath, reading Jim Butcher's Ghost Story and simultaneously thinking about shoes. (I multitask for a living, for me this sort of thing is normal.) It occurred to me that I've come a long way from the unhappily married tomboy with no discernible gender and an "I give up" haircut from a few years ago. That thought was what led me down the path to Ephemily's origins.
The year was 2009, and a great convergence was upon me. At the tail end of an emotionless marriage, trying to figure out a way to afford a divorce (debt consolidation plan or bankruptcy? Turns out, the chapter 13 would have actually been the better option. Live an learn, right?) My ex, his girlfriend and I were all sharing the same roof, and I was finally starting to live for myself for the first time in, oh, ever. (My opinion about marriage, and relationships in general is that it's more about Us than Me. Thing is, that only works if both parties play out of the same rulebook.)
Somewhere in this life changing maelstrom of frustration and emotional hardship, I met a few people and got to know one or two much better. I can only say that the collective of events, experiences, and emotions were perhaps the perfect storm for me. It was what I needed, when I needed it.
My favorite ex-reservist consoled me and made me believe I wasn't dead at 31. Somehow, two people who needed what the other could offer found each other at just the right time.
My clandestine lover gasped in frustration at some of my more self-destructive ruminations "If I didn't think you were so fabulous, I would strangle you right about now. Stop that shit." It was that kill 'em with kid gloves, can't mistake what I mean for anything else bluntness that I really needed to hear, then as well as now.
My dear friend who I corralled into taking over my old apartment when I moved away a decade or so ago (Who still lives there, oddly enough. It makes going for a visit that much more inviting.) and I spent many months conversing via e-mail at a time when I kinda needed a wiser influence who's been through the war of life. He's managed to come out with a few scars, a don't tread on me attitude, and a strong enough friendship to thump me on the head, point me in the right direction and kick me in the ass on my way down the road to my future. (You'll notice there's a whole lot of "not subtle" going on here. Vague is lost on me. Bring on the brick to the face.)
I fell in love. I thought it was with a younger man. Turns out, it was with the feeling of being special, of mattering. He's gone, but the ache for the faceless emotion is not. It waxes and wanes, but serves the purpose to remind me not to give up. Not to get bitter, regardless of how hopeless it feels, or how many candles I burn at both ends. I don't believe there's someone for everyone. That's just a story we tell ourselves to make ourselves or our friends feel better. But, alone or with someone, bitterness and despair is ugly inside and out.
I reconnected with an old childhood friend, who introduced me to perhaps one of the most accepting and fulfilling groups of people in the city. There are many words to describe them, and it seems like trying to grab fists of water to try tie them all together with one neat bow. But, until I'd met them, I had a small flicker of self-assurance in the value of my mind, but beyond that I had no reason to believe I was worth looking at, much less sexy, beautiful, stunning, or hot. I couldn't resolve these words with my mental image of myself. Don't get me wrong, having heard them a few times from people who have nothing to gain by telling me these things, I haven't let it go to my head. I still take a compliment about as gracefully as I can bait a fish hook. But, I'm getting better at a smile and a thank you.
Somewhere in the background of all this noise, I managed to drop about 40 lbs. I was never skinny, but when you start at 225 and look more like a man with moobs than a woman, every pound helps. Stress eating, boredom, occasional loneliness, a good margarita, or a sale on ice cream later, and I've put some back on. But, here's the thing. I kinda like me now. Fat, curvy, chubby, whatever your words, my tits, hips, or dress size don't define me as much as they used to. I've finally managed to believe I've got more than what the scale says going for me.
Out of all of this came an extension of self. From someone who has always stood out in a crowd was born an even brighter flame. The labor pains were the tears of loss and frustration. The strange cravings were the timid attempts to live life in a way that just seemed to feel more comfortable. The baby bump and it's progression was the putting the spiky earrings back through holes that long ago should have closed, and an ear cuff on one ear. Later came he two-toned hair, and the cackle for a laugh. Lastly came the acceptance that short skirts and size 16 women don't have to be enemies, and that hiding who you are so you can be more "socially acceptable" does more harm than good.
Ephemily is made of shoes that send the message of "I like girls" AND "these heels say I wanna get laid tonight.", short skirts, body acceptance, knowing that you're the only person with your best interests at heart, and devil's horns, and a razor wit. She's strong, stubborn, and refuses to be a doormat, and can do so without ever crossing the line between sticking to your guns, and declaring war. She isn't the Pearl Harbor type. You'll always know where she stands, just sometimes you'll have to ask. There's a difference between being forthright and being a dick. (The lesson of when to shut the hell up is a tough one to learn, but critical.)
I don't know exactly when Ephemily was born. It's not like there was a day, or an epiphany, or a week of bad behavior that I can point to and say "That's it! The beginning started here!". It might be fun to argue what sign she is. Is the the attention whoring Leo, the headstrong and warlike Aries, or is she a lecherous and mysterious Scorpio like her mama?
Who can point to a papa? I call hers the Torrid Birth, as there are many who could be her father. Not in a whorish way, but in an inspirational one. Could it be the awakening of self? The patience that came through living with her former husband and his girlfriend for a year? Was it the strength it took to file chapter 13, divorce, and carry out a short sale in rapid succession? Was it the forced humility in becoming both a divorcee and having the stain of being so "bad with your money" you had to cash in a Mulligan? Who's to say. She's here all the same.
I don't know what her life span will be, or even if she ages chronologically. But, I do know that she feels like a teenager; she knows everything and is perhaps allowing her mouth to write larger checks than she can cash. I'm sure she'll have to be grounded now and again. I'm sure she'll still sneak out on school nights. I'm sure this is just a phase. But, I hope she can grow up to be an asset and an ally. To the long, fulfilling, happy life of Ephemily!