Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How does she do it?

Before I leave my home in Seattle for another city, I always have a little panic about what to wear. I know that what I consider to be a wardrobe here in the Pac NW wouldn't even begin to count as a wardrobe for anyone else who lived in any city, anywhere. Seattle's just that out of it relaxed.

So the night before I left for New York, I mined my friends' closets for clothes that would make me look hip and pulled together. I may never be on the cutting edge, but at least I can up there somewhere, maybe a few strides back from the edge, behind the safety railing, but still with a nice view. I brought home a nice haul of sweaters, legging, boots and layering pieces and threw them onto a pile in my bedroom, thinking I'd go through and sort out which outfits I'd wear on each day of my trip. I never got around to that. The stress of trying to predict my mood and what the weather would be for each day was too overwhelming. So instead I brought everything. I also had this idea, for some reason, that it was going to be extremely cold so I brought along a few extra jackets. The next day I threw it all in my giant trekking backpack and checked it onto the airplane.  I felt pretty good about it.

Then something horrible happened upon my delayed, 2 AM arrival. They gave it back to me! To take! This enormous backpack with things strapped on the outside was just sitting there, waiting there to be collected. It was then, in the harsh light of the Newark airport, that I realized my huge mistake. I had to run all around the city with this load. How would I fit into cafes? How would I stroll? The whole trip was going to be crushed under the weight of my own vain attempt to look appropriate.

You know those girls who own simple, elegant outfits for travel,  and they bring them around in little suitcases that roll? They don't own shirts or pants, they own 'pieces.' Most of their pieces are black and can be rearranged into any combination of business, formal, cocktail, casual. I'm not that girl. My 'pieces' are for sitting around, winter hiking, and attending funerals, and never the three shall be mixed and matched.

How do they do it, these elegant girls? These are the same girls, I'll bet you anything, that sleep in tight tank tops with satiny trim. I own a number of those sleep tanks, but they're not actually for sleeping. Everyone knows that. They're for wearing around when a boy is over in the evening, so that he'll think you're the girl that falls asleep cute and wakes up peppy. But who actually goes to bed in those things? I wear a big t-shirt and then I kick off my pants in the middle of the night. Guaranteed.

In any case, my attempt to blend as a New York gal on the go totally backfired. Instead of this:

I got this:

On the early morning train from Newark to Midtown to Brooklyn, I was all teetery and pushed around and in the way. I couldn't sit down because my bag wouldn't fit in my lap. My shoulders hurt. And I was sweating. 

There was only one way for me to turn this around. I decided that I was a visual arts major from Cooper Union and this 'situation' was my performance art. I'm constantly reinventing myself in little ways, so as the train made its many, many stops, I thought up little details for Cooper Union me. I was in my third year, I had a slight Adderall problem, and somewhere in the upper west side I shared a loft with my androgynous boyfriend who rode a bicycle. This morning's performance: A rumination on the Burden of Life and the Baggage We Carry.  By Melina Coogan copyright 2011.

So, yeah, in the end, I think I pulled it off.

I always pull it off. 

I'm a hero.


Anonymous said...

excellent piece!

John said...

Let me tell you if I had to carry a visual representation of my baggage I'm pretty sure one trekking backpack would not do the job. I'm thinking I would need some of the PODS storage system boxes delivered to my home. But those aren't really portable without a forklift, so perhaps that would make for a poor choice as a visual art project.

At least your boyfriend seems nice. And that was a creative save. I hate traveling on public transit with luggage or large backpacks.

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano said...

How very Cremaster of you! (I thought you were a New Yorker at first, but New Yorkers are self-centered that way.)

Melina said...

Yes, John, this boyfriend is pretty nice. He's a Foley artist I think. Or at least he wants to be, he works at a movie theater right now. He's got a great sense of humor.

Melina said...

Autumn, aha! The blue dress tights boot combo worked! Wonder if I can keep it up if I actually move to NY full time. I doubt it.

E. Zalie said...

Oh my God did you give the art student pierced ears? That just made my day. I laughed so damn hard at this one.

colleen said...

May I remind you fair lady that I brought only a few "pieces" to Seattle, and that most of them are black...oh who am I kidding they were all black you saw it. I'm just hinting that colorful wardrobes are a bitch for packing and due to my lack there of I came to Seattle with barely a back pack. (:

Anonymous said...

I love you.

Melina said...

Colleen. Do you sleep in a sleep tank?

colleen said...

Lina...I am currently in bed sleeping in black stretch pants and a black tshirt....does this count? Also I'm pretty sure your fictional boyfriend is one of my ex boyfriends, sorry lady haha!

Dominique said...

This is hilarious! I especially love your line drawings. And next time someone bangs into me with a backpack, I am going to have a great deal of empathy for the turtle-like creature who must carry her home around with her when she is traveling! thank you.

Unknown said...

It is true. You are a hero.