“Alternative” Living

So then it begins. The story of the girl and her dog. She sits alone at bars and although she never intends to, she gets way too drunk. She meets all sorts of personalities while she’s out and even though legally she’s not supposed to be out drinking and mingling, following the rules was never her forte. Let’s just call her a rebel. Others would simply say dumb.

It wasn’t too long ago when she heard herself being described on the radio for the first time. It was when she first arrived to Florida some 8 odd years ago. The radio host was saying how in today’s world, the term used for a girl like her was “alternative.” It was then that she realized she’s gone from being just “ordinary” to something but.  With her funky hair color and her piercings, along with her tattoos that cover about 75% of her body, in this Florida region she stood out. It’s not like she lived in Miami or Orlando where youth is prominent and so is the “alternative” life style. No, she lived in an area where the senior citizens are the ruling class followed up by the middle class to wealthy families. The types of people who look at her and wonder why?

“Why would such a nice girl like yourself, with so much going for herself do that to her body?” They ask. Funny. Old people never feel the restraint of prying into your private life. It could be the fact that soon they’ll be nothing but a mass of decaying flesh and bones six feet under that gives them the balls to ask such intrusive questions. But I don’t mind. My life and who I am is an open book. No invitation is needed. Just having an open mind and a civil, respectful approach is all I care about. I usually try to counter that question with another question like, “Well, why do you drive the kind of car you drive?” Or “What makes you choose to wear that shade of lipstick?” They laugh at me because of course nothing of what I asked them is remotely close to being like a tattoo on your body. But those are my build up questions. I then ask them, “What makes you want to have children?” Or “What makes you decide what political party to run along with?” To every single one of these questions no matter the level of permanency, the one true answer that fits true to all is the same answer I have for them. Ultimately it is because you want to. It’s because you like it. You do it because it’s you, it’s your dream.

Just recently I had a lady ask me, “Honey how are you going to find yourself a nice young man to take care of you when you’ve got all this going on?” and she points to my art. I of course had to be a hard ass in my response because with people like her that’s just how I naturally react. So I say, “Well HONEY, if I was looking for a man to take care of me then I may be a little worried but seeing as though I am not…” She cuts me off and says, “Oh I get. Well a “partner.” How will you find a “partner” then?” Naturally she assumes I’m a lesbian.  “Listen lady, I’m not a lesbian. And if I was that wouldn’t even be the issue at hand. The issue you’re having are with my tattoos and although I’ve got no need to explain anything to you, I will use this opportunity to maybe enlighten folks like you a little bit. The fact that I’ve got tattoos doesn’t effect the kind of people I meet, because the kind of people I want to meet won’t have an issue with the tattoos. We can call them a filter. If anything, I have met the raddest people because of my tats and those whom are judgmental just simply stay away. That’s how I like it. Let me just add by saying that some of the most clean cut individuals are the dirtiest people on this planet. Take a look at Ted Bundy for instance or Jeffery Dahmer. Keep them in mind the next time you judge someone for their “nice guy” appearance.” Needless to say this lady didn’t continue on the conversation with me. She turned back to her “clean cut” husband never uttering another word. Hopefully I left her wondering what sort of skeletons he’s got hidden among the Tommy Bahama clothes hanging in his closet.

Was I a little too harsh in my response with this lady? Maybe. But catch me on a day like that day where I was a couple drinks in and I’m going to get as real with my answers as your are with your questions. I think a lot about this older generation and how sometimes I cannot wait for them to dissolve. It may be wrong of me to say but I blame a lot of what’s going on in the world due to their way of thinking. The fact that so many are set in their old ways and cannot conceive of things changing or evolving.  Much of their way of thinking so ignorant and small minded, killing so much of the potential this world has to offer simply because it doesn’t fit their way of thinking or the way things have always been. Maybe I was a little harsh with her, and not only her but with others like her, but it was actually one of the rare moments life presented me with, an opportunity to maybe spread a message that normally wouldn’t have been given a chance to be expressed.

In reality this blog piece isn’t about the adventures of a girl and her dog. It’s about the realization of the way life goes for not only me but for those out there who are similar.

In today’s world, if by your mid twenties you’re not married, with kids, living in your own home, working in a set career, you’re looked down upon by the older generation. Truth be told, if you look at the statistics out there, you’re actually doing just fine. You’re in sync with the way life is evolving around you. Many are staying in school longer, actually taking their time to decided on their true passion in life. Others aren’t even going straight to college after HS because their intent is to travel and experience life before making long term dedications to ideas that in all honesty were more imposed on them than actually being wanted. Having a full blown family by the age of 25 is now pretty overrated. I’m not taking any credit away from those who actually have one and wanted to have one. That’s a great achievement when you get to accomplish a dream, no matter what dream it is. All I’m saying is to those of you who are out there still drawing up that blue print for life, don’t feel bad. Don’t feel like you’re behind in anyway. Don’t feel that you have to have this title hanging over your head of the “alternative” lifestyle, no matter what definition it holds for you. Who are these individuals coming up with such a label? Who are these people coming up with the rules and guidelines for society? Other human beings that’s who. People who are no more inferior or superior to us, to you. They are just regular Joe Shmoes so why care about living your life by their rules? Set your own standards and live your own life by them. Care about yourself, and make sure to try to go along your path with inflicting the least amount of pain as possible. Those should truly be your only two “set in stone” guidelines. Everything else can be written in sand and washed away by the sea allowing you to write and rewrite as many times needed.

Never allow others to make you feel like who you as an individual are worthless. No one is worthless.

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Photo Credit: Angie M, Muse: Natal Galvan ’13