"I'm 32-years-old and I'm going to start wearing lipstick."
I made this announcement to Ryan the other day after I returned home from the local pharmacy with sinus headache medicine and a tube of red lipstick. I put the lipstick on in the car before I walked into the house, anxious to give it a try. I thought it would be one of those subtle enhancements, like the loss of five pounds, but Ryan immediately noticed. "Wow. What's with the lips?"
A ten-minute trip to the pharmacy can really change a person.
I'll freely admit that I am prone to vanity. I've been obsessed with clothes since I was too little to care; and as soon as I had the go-ahead to start wearing makeup at age 12, I've never stopped. Well, except for one little detail--lipstick. I've never been able to do lipstick. I've tried in years past, but the result was always a little disastrous. Like, preschooler-with-a-Sharpie disastrous. So, I gave up. Quit cold turkey. I decided to go with the "Dramatic Eye and Nude Lip" theme I read about in a magazine one time while my hair was being highlighted. (Oh yes, I forgot to mention the hair vanity.)
But something clicked in the aisles of the Walgreens and I suddenly knew that the piercing sinus headache that led me there in the first place was a fate-sent means to an end. What I needed even more than medication was big-girl lipstick. The universe was trying to tell me something: I needed to make a bold new step. I needed to unlock the gate of the new me, and the gatekeeper was L'Oreal 16-hour Power Stay Lip Stain in cherry red. Or at least I thought it was. Sometimes the universe mumbles and I can't tell for sure.
When Max saw my ruby red lips he backed away slowly and said, "Uhhh, do NOT kiss me with those lips."
When Christian saw them he raised his eyebrows and said, "Did you do something to your lips? Like, on purpose?"
"I'm 32-years-old and I'm going to start wearing lipstick!" I announced again. It's important to announce these things. (With conviction!)
The next morning, I tried my new look again. I got ready early and applied the lipstick before it was time to walk Max out to the bus stop where all the parents congregate and visit in the morning. I probably shouldn't have sprung such drastic changes on the bus stop parents. Last year I was never even showered before the bus stop, let alone wearing bright red lipstick. My regular bus stop look is something I call "Homeless Punky Brewster." It's very cutting edge.
Two minutes before it was time to walk out to the bus stop, I began to have serious misgivings about the lipstick. I ran in the bathroom and tried to blot it off with some toilet paper, but I was only twenty minutes into my 16-hour Power Stay color shift. I scrubbed at them with the hand towel, but it was no use. I briefly considered the use of a nail file or Clorox. Instead, I grabbed my large sunglasses and put them on before walking outside with Max and Ryan. I was hoping the glasses would hide the embarrassment in my eyes.
We stood at the bus stop for a few seconds before Ryan said to my neighbor Anne, "So, what do you think of Tiffany's lipstick?" I punched him in the arm.
"Yeah, I noticed that," Anne said sweetly.
"I'm 32-years-old and I'm going to start wearing lipstick." I mumbled with my head down, trying to tuck my lips into my face.
The next day I tried again. Specifically, I tried applying it correctly (fail) and also tried convincing myself that I was going to get used to this look (again, fail). The day after that, I applied a little smear of it (more of a 16-minute version of the 16-hour original) that looked like Kool-Aid stain from a morning of binge drinking. The next day I didn't shower until three o'clock in the afternoon. And since it was so late in the afternoon, I decided that it would be wasteful to apply lipstick at all. (I'm trying to be more green.) This morning when I got ready, I applied my regular, barely-tinted-pink lipgloss. I left the red lipstick sitting in the dungeon of my makeup bag.
"I'm 32-years-old and I'm going to stop wearing lipstick," I said to my reflection in the mirror. And I kid you not, the reflection sighed with relief.
I read a quote the other day about having plenty of failures in life because having them means that you're taking plenty of chances. The truth is, I've not been one to take many chances. I've lived many moons taking small, safe steps that were guaranteed successful. But I feel an urgency to let that go and open myself up to becoming the best possible version of myself. And I'm beginning to understand that in order to become that person, I'm going to have to put a lot of "suck" into "successful."
You know what? Maybe that was the real message from the universe in Walgreens: Walk around looking like a complete idiot for a few days. It will be good for you. Be truly bad at something and find out how easy it can be to let it go. There is freedom in failure.
Or, then again, maybe it wasn't the universe telling me anything. Maybe it was just a sinus headache.