The post office was going to close in thirty minutes, I had just enough time to make a birthday card and tape the package shut. I didn’t have enough time to change out of my painting clothes, and get to the post office before they closed. The birthday present would arrive late, but I did want the gift to be postmarked the actual day of my cousin’s birthday.
As I was running out the door with my keys, purse and package, I grabbed my long plaid coat. If I put the coat on, you wouldn’t be able to see my painting pants.
Standing at the post office, the post master didn’t know what I was hiding. He couldn’t see the paint stains or the patches on my jeans.
My coat became something I could hide behind. I could hide my true self.
My coat reminded me of how I hide behind a polite smile. I wear a mask on my face as easily as I wear a coat to cover my stained jeans and sweatshirt.
I live in a neighborhood where all of the houses are the same; four or five models to choose from, a choice of four colors for the siding. My whole life is hidden behind the front door. Trying to fit in, be respectable. Who am I really. The neat lady in a long polite coat, or the artist with paint on her jeans?
After the post office I went to the grocery store. The coat hid my painted jeans from the other shoppers. Am I concerned with what others think? Does it matter?
Why do I care?
Do I have to become my neighborhood? Do artists only live and paint in abandoned warehouses? I do not want to be defined by my house. I do not want to be the artist hiding behind a long coat. I do not want to become a variation of four different models, with a life that is a choice of several shades of brown.
I don’t have to be like everyone else.
Next time I run to the post office, I will not wear the long coat to hide my painting pants.
Are you hiding who you are? Are you afraid to take off your long coat? Who are you, really?