Wednesday, June 20, 2012

One Year Later: An Anniversary Post

It seems funny to be writing an anniversary post on a blog that's only been in existence for a few weeks, but today is my husband and my first anniversary, on the Hebrew calendar, and so I thought that I would reflect back on some snippets from the first journal entry I made about head covering after my marriage.

Having generally pushed over real decision-making about what I was doing with my head after the wedding, I'm now in experimentation land. There's a significant amount of fun involved, since I really enjoy creative things to do with a length of cloth. In many ways, I'm actually quite excited to experiment, and to play. It's one of those fasion-related things that actually interests me. (There have been some moments of effectively playing dress-up, in the last few months, if that says anything.) 
But dress-up is pretty different from "wear it out on the street, and have other people notice". I'm feeling quite tentative about that, especially since I'm still figuring out to what degree I'm covering out of principle, versus to what degree I'm covering because I like it, and of course, the flip side of "what I think is fine to show when I want to". So when people ask "so, is this what it'll be, now?", combined with gestures to my head- I don't really have an answer yet. 
 Oddly enough, a year later, I still haven't figured out how much of my covering is principle and how much because I like it.  That's some of the reason that I'm writing this blog.  In fact, I feel like I'm in very much the same place: I'm having a lot of fun with this, much more fun than I ever had doing my hair.  I love the incorporation of color and texture that working with fabric instead of hair brings, and also the ability to change the perception of the bulk and height of hair and head shape so easily.

There's all this complicated stuff going on, emotionally, about not wanting to seem too frum, or too whatever-the-social-opposite-is...
Emotionally, I feel a lot more settled, a year later.  I'm still occasionally uncomfortable with sending inaccurate signals, but it feels so right that I've adjusted to that.  I still think about that balance, especially for job interviews and when meeting people for the first time, but it isn't emotionally tricky, most of the time.
This gets more complicated considering my line of work, and H's impending matriculation at an Orthodox institution.
 The complications with my line of work have actually appeared, on occasion.  My husband's institution turns out to be more open to a wider variety of head covering practices than I expected.  When I go to programs for spouses, I often cover my head in a more thorough manner than most of the other women there.  (Some don't cover their head at all.  On the other hand, one wears a wig.)  It's almost funny.
Then there's the issue of what things I think look nice. And of course, what I can do and still get my tefillin on appropriately. 
I've found that tefillin go on over many more varieties of covering than I expected, with a little shimmying and adjustment.  As for what looks good- well, you're seeing my taste develop as we go.
It all leads to doing a lot of looking in the mirror and being a little confused. It's a real change in self-presentation, which I hadn't quite expected, after all the people who've seen me and presumed that I was married, for the last 6ish years. 
 I feel less confused at my own image: it has become quite a comfortable view, in the mirror.  While I see a very different face before and after I finish getting dressed and putting my hair up, I'm still very attached to covering, and also to keeping my hair rather unfashionably long, underneath it all.  I really enjoy the way I look, both ways.

In retrospect, it has been a year of significant exploration when it comes to my appearance and self-presentation.  Being able to show that I'm married in a really visible way has somehow come to mean quite a lot to me, I think without detracting from the value that head-covering has had for me in the past.  It has also become routine- a pleasant one, but also just a regular part of getting dressed in the morning.  There's only so much attention one can give to it on a constant basis.  The issue crops up, here and there, but it isn't always on my mind- even if it is on my mind more than it might be for some other folks.  We'll see what another year brings.

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