i was at the sly fox the other night. it wasn’t like those nights i remember from when i was new around the place; i had people to talk to, those i came with and a few others i was delighted to catch up with. but it wasn’t like before i moved out, either. these days i know half the room, i expect, but that just meant a lot more people to remind me that i don’t really know them.
at the time i thought it was my fault, as i tend to for a while. i assumed it was about certain incidents i’d been involved in, where i’d had to stand up for things which made some of these people uncomfortable. being scapegoated isn’t exactly unfamiliar to me, but i still do what i feel i have to.
but now i see that, while my status in the community was likely affected by the outcomes of such incidents, those very outcomes were conversely affected by the perception of my status.
but what is this status that i am so vulnerable to? it seems to have to do with the fact that i’m no longer a spiky haired nunnery inhabitant who gets seen around everywhere because half the suburb lives in my lounge room. shaking up a tafe student association would probably be a respectable activity if anyone knew about it, but it just doesn’t have the same ‘cool’ factor as running rubber and latex workshops.
because of this, i am listened to less, supported less and am more vulnerable to scapegoating when convenient for others who still have such status to fall back on, and indeed to stockpile.
it seems though, that it’s not even all about whether what i do is respected. how i present myself seems to have a huge effect. these days i don’t have the privelege of ducking home to dress for an evening out, i turn up to the sly in my day clothes. as i’ve noticed before, one gets treated rather differently in a big bright dress than one does in a nice tailcoat, or frankly anything involving a tie. as nice as it is that i get lots of compliments from the boys on the dresses that i happen to enjoy, it’s quite sad that the majority of girls can’t manage to look in my face if i’m wearing colour. surely it isn’t about the meat market? i know i don’t usually register its existance, but really. these are people i know, who surely remember that i’m the same person that i was when i last stepped out in black. it feels more like they’re afraid that saying hi will make me rub off on them, somehow compromise their own attempts to stay in uniform. whatever it is, people seem awfully insecure. it’s quite sad, some of these people i considered friends, and even worth a bit of effort. but if so much more effort is now required, it’s time to sit back and see if any of them are worth all that.
i do need a sense of community in my life, but if all i get is quiet awkward greetings with eyes sliding away, down and to the side, maybe i’ll pass. if i end up positioned right and people get friendly again, i’m sure i’ll forgive, accept, enjoy, appreciate their good sides, be grateful for how much easier it is to carry out my projects. there are certainly reasons to let myself get seduced into it all. but remind me not to forget the fragility of the position, the consequences, or myself.