The woman I wanted to be wore a couple days too-ripe strawberry red lipstick that didn’t smudge or bleed into the corner of her mouth when she ate her salad for lunch.
The woman I wanted to be never, ever felt bad about the unruly shape of her thighs.
The woman I wanted to be owned white sheets and actually used them, and when that woman woke up each morning, there would never be a blotch of black mascara on her pillowcase. Like, ever.
When the woman I wanted to be talked about running a 5k, she ran a 5k.
The woman I wanted to be always knew her bra size.
The woman I wanted to be has photos of herself standing in the ocean in a city that is surrounded by ocean, but she doesn’t remember when they were taken, only that she was really happy. Really, the woman I wanted to be has photos taken of her in all her prettiest, most majestic moments.
The woman I wanted to be never bled through her jeans on her heaviest day.
In her purse, the woman I wanted to be always carried a Don DeLillo novel she’s actually reading.
The woman I wanted to be understands how airline credit cards work.
The woman I wanted to be could pull off a coonskin cap and look simultaneously cool and silly and desirable.
Never ever has the woman I wanted to be complained about the weather, and how it can unravel you.
The woman I wanted to be has a few casual kimonos.
When out celebrating, the woman I wanted to be ordered her whiskey neat. The woman I wanted to be didn’t ever chase liquor with orange soda or Hawaiian Punch.
The woman I wanted to be never threw up in front of her apartment complex, out the car door, or into the palms of her hands because she couldn’t make it to the toilet in time.
When it’s time to cut the birthday cake, the woman I wanted to be is the first one to start singing the “Happy Birthday” song —and she is never off-key.
The woman I wanted to be reads the newspaper every day. Like, a real newspaper made of paper that smells like dust and ink.
The woman I wanted to be has a signature scent and she’s doesn’t feel self-conscious about it.
The woman I wanted to be always drinks enough water.
And after all these years, like 25 of them, I learned that the woman I most wanted to be, the kind of woman I emulated and coveted, was the woman I am now. She doesn’t have white sheets. She sings a terrible “Happy Birthday.” She throws up at the wrong moments and says the wrong things and is probably dehydrated but it’s all something she’s working on this very second. Because a woman who is real and honest and not perfect but always curious and trying is the woman I will always want to be.
(Image via La Piscine, Avco Embassy)