I've been at my childhood home in the humming metropolis of Glen Ellyn, IL for about two weeks now. I will doubtlessly soon write some ruminations on how I feel about Glen Ellyn. Whenever I'm here I (unsurprisingly) spend a lot of time remembering what it was like to grow up in this place: what I liked, what I disliked, what seemed normal at the time but now seems strange and foreign.
My appearance feels different here. Or more specifically, how I feel about my appearance feels different here. I felt pretty confident in Syracuse: perhaps I'm getting older, perhaps I'm finally getting less interested in worrying about myself -- whatever the reason, I moved throughout and lived within Syracuse without spending nearly any time worrying about my appearance.
But when I come back home, some of that old, familiar worry about my appearance slips back. I'm not sure if it's because when I'm here I remember how awkward and unattractive I felt while a gawky teen in high school - or if people do wander around looking more put together than they do in Syracuse. To be honest, that wouldn't be very difficult. High fashion and extremely punctilious grooming are not generally found within the hallowed halls of academia. My high school, on the other hand, did have several very well-dressed students. It wasn't uncommon to see my trendier high school classmates wearing short, yet tasteful, skirts and pumps to school once we hit sophomore year. A particular subset of students would dress up more formally for their high school classes than I do now, at 26, to TA a class or lead a lecture.
At the time, of course, I wore baggy jeans accompanied with skin-tight tee shirts from my school's theater program. I topped it off with one of those tattoo choker necklaces that came back for about a minute there in the early 2000s. My mother lovingly described me as "grunge."