I always love those articles about what’s inside some celeb’s purse or in their fridge. I stare at what’s in someone’s grocery cart all the time, looking down at their choice of cereal, then up into their faces, trying to make a connection between their choices and who they are. What we choose, what we buy, what we collect says pretty much everything about us.
This morning, a get-it-together Monday, I was going through my little wristlet that has come to replace my larger wallet, carrying only the essentials. As I sorted, throwing away receipts from the nail salon, from Daffy’s, from restaurants, from the copy shop, from the computer repair place, I began to get an overwhelming sense of self: this was my life. I began to sort with more conviction.
Ah, yes, I do hit a lot of cafes, as my Naidre’s punch card and my Red Horse Café card show. I love art, carrying with me at all times my membership cards to MOMA and the New Museum just in case the spirit should move me or I should need to find the spirits that might help me move. Cheese, too figures large, would figure larger if I let it. My Murray’s Cheese frequent buyer card doesn’t have too many punches and my gym card is well worn, which is why I’m lighter than I used to be. My Borders Rewards card shows my love of books, though I am nowhere near a Borders. I don’t have a Barnes & Noble card because I am always too cheap to spend the money they require to save, short-sighted I know. There are three MetroCards, likely all with insufficient fare.
Next up are the many business cards of people I meet daily who I hope can be useful to me or who I can be useful to in some way. There is a woman I met and like a lot whose business is “Personal Transformation and Healing for Women.” I have been trying to connect with her for a while, to utilize her necessary services. Another is for a great woman whose business is Cyber PR. Definitely need her, too. There are a slew of production types, ranging in specialty from music to photography. Life, I said recently, is just one big production, so we need all the producers we can get to help us stage it.
There, too, is the beautiful, ethereal card from the girl at an antique fair whose stuff I loved, I wanted to move in to her table. Her online boutique is called, aptly, “A Charming Life.”
I looked, for the first time, at the card of the doctor who had diagnosed my acid reflux and noticed that she was not, as I’d thought, an otorhinolaryngologist but simply an otolaryngologist. The rhino, the nose, was missing, not part of her practice, despite the fact that she stuck a tube up my nose. Hmmm, I thought, is that why she decided not to deal with my post-nasal drip, didn't imagine that to be the problem with my vocal chords? Because it wasn’t part of her specialty? See, titles, though I typically hate them,do say a lot in a particular setting, sometimes we need to pay attention to them.
I noticed, along those lines, that I had a card from a very confident guy I've been told by others has a very successful track record in the music business, whose card is simply his name, number and e-mail, no explanation of what or who he is necessary. I laughed, remembering a moment when a friend and I determined that his business card, once filled with explanations of what he could offer, should really just say, “Breathing.” It’s all people really need to know if you feel sure that you can offer them something.
I looked up from my sorting and saw a guy whose arms boasted a slew of tattoos. One in particular, on the arm facing me, caught my eye. It was a big heart and arrow with FAITH inscribed in the middle. I love people who have faith and here someone was shouting their belief in beliefs out loud to the world. The one below that said HEAVEN and, from the looks of it, his idea of HEAVEN was a buxom mermaid-like lady. Again, great to have faith, whatever it might be in.
“I like your tattoos,” I said to him.
A big smile spread on his previously sullen face.
“Thanks!” he said enthusiastically. “I don’t how much they say about me anymore, I got them a long time ago,” he said.
I felt slightly disappointed. “They don’t resonate with you anymore?” I asked.
He shrugged. “I guess I don’t think about it much. I used to be heavy into the tattoo culture, my ex-wife was a tattoo artist. I mean, I don’t hate them, it’s just not what I’m into anymore. They don't really matter.”
I nodded, understanding. “It’s funny, ‘cause I got a tattoo recently, my first, and people warned me against doing it because they said I might regret it later. But, you know, you’d probably never do anything if you really worried about what you were going to think about it later, as if we can ever really know…I think, sometimes, it's just about really feeling something in the moment and committing to it without worrying.”
“Exactly,” he said. “You can’t worry about it.”
“Exactly,” I said, whipping out a big gold star and giving it to him.
“Cool, thanks,” he said. “I’ll put it on my dog’s collar,” he said, motioning to the cute little Spuds dog tied up outside.
I thought about it after he left. Tattoos are like cards, but they’re more permanent. I shied away from creating business cards for two years ‘cause I didn’t know exactly who I wanted to say I was to the world at large, especially about what I “did.” But, oddly, I was very clear on putting a tattoo, of a dragonfly, in a personal place. That is more for me than for anyone else. It felt totally right, to me, in the moment, still does, I hope will forever but I am not worried about it.
Conversely, the only way I finally convinced myself to get business cards was remembering that they are, in fact, easy to change. I can tell the world I want to be anything on any given day. It is only for myself that I really have to know, that I shouldn’t be so wishy-washy. And, man, that is a tall order.