I apologize the long delay — more on that in a post yet to come. In the meantime, here it is: the first post about a counter-culture life. Not that kinky sex and open relationships aren’t against the grain, but it all adds to the greater whole of who I am.
In my world. a trench coat is as identifiable and unique as it’s owner. They’re dusters, technically, not trench coats. But it doesn’t matter. Normally, I am all for accuracy in labeling — but sometimes words take on an entirely separate meaning than their true definition. This is one of those situations. Not that everyone wears the same style of coat — you”ll see biker jackets, cloaks, dressy black blazers. But mostly they are long, draping things that sweep across the floor and blow in the wind. Think of Neo’s coat in the Matrix… except we were doing it before breakthrough blockbuster movies put a face to the wardrobe. They are decorated with buttons, straps, safety pins, buckles, band patches, fabric paint. They are ripped, worn, or brand, sparklingly, new. They are on the backs of baby bats — barely pubescent children who this world has made into accidental adults, just starting their forays into black clothes and staying up late…. playing haunting melodies to the midnight air. They are worn by teenagers, glowering at the open stares of those who view them. They are worn by people my age, smiling at the people with meet, asking how they are, wishing them a good day… grinning when our greetings are responded to with warmth, mentally shrugging when they are answered with coldness and fear. Those older than I carry these second skins so easily, so casually, there is never a question as to whether or not they belong in them: elegant women in lush velvet cloaks, who would put Morticia to shame; honor-bound metalhead men in short leather jackets, lined with padding.
There is always a proprietary tone when speaking of some of one’s belongings. It’s not merely, “My coat… my boots,” but, “My coat… my boots.” There is an understanding that these objects have not only function, but character. Personality, even.
I live in a monotone world. Everything is black — or white… which makes it all more than a little gray. I know at least twenty ways to apply make-up that is all one color. I live in a world where guitars have names.
Black boots — combat boots, Corcorans, Doc Martens, jump boots, thigh-highs, Dominatrix-style boots,Victorian ankle booties — tap out rhythmic patterns: drum beats, strum patterns, harmonizing notes, lead lines. They pound out the heartbeats of our music, of our lives — on the asphalt, in the dirt, one the sidewalks, the sticky floors of bars, the slick floors of clubs, the carpets of our houses, wood planks of theaters.
I own my coat, my boots, my backpack, my fishnets…. but they also own me. Over the years, they’ve held my body, yes, and other things. They’ve cradled cigarettes, CD’s whiskey, weed, music players, and music makers; journals, judgments, condoms, condiments, make-up, mittens, strings, cell phones, pens and panties. They’ve held faith, courage, warmth, and lust. They have held love.
All that, and it’s not even about the coat. But you can’t understand what it really is without understanding what it looks like. What it looks like is wrong. What it appears to be is a perceptual error –a consensual reality illusion.
No it’s not about the coat. The clothes and the color protect and defend. They are midnight armor, shielding us from the world, from society, elements, and ourselves. But at the same time that they keep us safe, they show exactly who we are: we are not hiding. We merely seem distorted, but it is the way of shadows. The dark reflection of an object seems larger, blurrier, and more frightening in direct response the light that interacts with it.
This is not to say that mainstream society is purely the light and counter-culture is purely darkness. Once, I thought that. Once, I thought many things. But I have come to realize things are rarely as cut and dry as that. It is not even a judgement call on dark or light being better. They are opposites, they stand alone, and as such, they give each other shape, form, substance.
Mainstream society did not get its name from itself. It got it from us. Freaks did not get their name from themselves. They got it from the mainstream world.
What it IS about is life. A true life. A life lived unflinchingly, even when one is afraid. What it’s about is an emotional undercurrent. It’s about the music that lies beneath it all. The melody of our actions, the rhythms of our lives, the lead lines of our choices, the bass notes of our thoughts, the lyrics of our emotions, the harmony of our interactions in community, the discord of being a symbol… and the resolving note of realizing it make look different — but it is all one and the same.
Do I look like a freak? Do you look normal? Because I think you and I look exactly the same.