When Mom and I were shopping in Target today, I stopped to look at Notebooks and Kindle-type e-readers, while Mom went on to get cat food. When I left Electronics to look for her, and didn’t find her, I went to our ordinary meeting place — costume jewelry. Imagine my surprise when I walked around the corner and saw a full wall of different 1980-1990 jewelry: chunky bracelets, enormous earrings, necklaces; fuchsia and orange and turquoise and that bright lovely green that was so popular then.
This was my kind of jewelry, and my mind flew to those crazy years. I am not particularly proud of those years, but I am revisiting them because I want to understand who I was then.
From 1980 to 1982, I was married to my first husband, and we didn’t go out very much. We played poker with two other couples. For me, at least, fun had more to do with cannabis than alcohol. In fact, those years were the beginning of my love affair with coffee. I don’t know if we played poker well; I remember we played often. I learned to love the game during that time.
Starting upon my divorce in 1982, I patrolled the bars and dance halls in our town and the towns nearby. I learned where I would be asked to dance, where I had to start the conversation, where I had to flirt outrageously, and where I had to climb all over a man to get his attention. I did all of those things shamelessly, and I had fun. Shortly, though, I met my musician, Billy P., the original bad boy who knew exactly how to pay attention to me. Before I knew what I was doing, I was in his pickup truck, driving into eastern Colorado, to a bar to which we’d been called by one of Billy’s friends. The link above tells that story, and it isn’t a big part of this story.
By the end of that time, I was married to H., my second husband. I hoped that would be the marriage I was looking for, but no. I worked at a couple of different jobs, before I began to work at the local Livestock Auction. I don’t think I have to say much — a room full of cowboys, at least half of them on the make, every one of them more charming than the last, (Why, yes, ma’am, I surely would love to dance with you.) And most of them either millionaires, or working for millionaires. My man-radar was pegged at the top. After the auction, about twenty of us would gather at the local bar, drink and dance until 10:00 or so, and then go home. Sometimes H. would join me, sometimes not.
Every workday in that place was an opportunity to dress up, and that was really when I started with the chunky jewelry and the Madonna-style hair. And I really got into it — couldn’t walk out of the house without ten pounds of wooden jewelry, and at least five pounds of hairspray, along with big shoulders and tight pants and high heels. H. must have known; he couldn’t have not known, although women all over were being extravagant. I still don’t understand, but I suppose I wanted him to catch me, so I could be in trouble and dependent on his good will. H. wouldn’t play that kind of game.
In 1985, I began working at TRW Electronics, in the Word Processing Dept. I had to calm my look down a little — I put the hair glue away, and bought a bunch of nice work dresses. My philandering ways calmed down; I flirted with guys in the office, but that was it. I loved my job, and worked there until 1987, when H. and I moved back here to Maine.
I started working in a bank, WP again, but we went out a little more often. H. was working a great job, and we were comfortable. I never went back to the spray-brush-spray routine, but I continued to wear that big plastic jewelry. And, within a year, I had moved to a car dealership, bought a new car, and quit to go to seminary. (I had a link here, and I thought I’d written about my time in seminary, but if I have, I can’t find it. So that’s Coming Attractions.) This link hits the high points of that whole time, but one thing I didn’t talk about was nights out. I kept the jewelry going, and the clothes, and by that time I had left H., and you’d have laughed to see me — seminary classes looking like Madonna, except without the hair. I’m surprised they didn’t throw me out.
By 1990, I was living in Adirondack Park, serving part-time in a couple of small churches. I didn’t change my look very much, except when I was doing church activities. But a lot of my crazy clothes and colorful jewelry was getting old and faded, and I couldn’t afford more. I maxed out a credit card, and then stopped dressing up, except for really special nights out. As I moved into the nineties, the destructive phase of my depression started, and I wasn’t worried about clothes or jewelry from then until this year. So my discovery today is serendipitous. Big, funky jewelry in those wild colors is now back in style, so I haven’t missed a thing, and I still have enough energy to enjoy wearing it. I don’t desperately need someone to love me; I am doing fine by myself, with my family and friends. So all’s well that ends well. Hooray!