Shopping on the left side of the store

It’s been difficult to find time to keep this blog up to date.  I have been  dutifully attending my weekly writer’s group and trying to press forward with my memoir one chapter at a time.  Between that and the writing that I get paid to do, I haven’t had a whole lot of time for The Flannel Files.  It’s funny, because this blog started the whole creative writing thing in motion.

Anyway, I thought I would share some writing that I did today in group related to the theme of my work in progress.

* * *

My memoir has a number of themes, all related in some fashion.  When I stop and think about the main theme, “gender” is the one word that comes to mind.

It seems to be a clear-cut topic.  Boy.  Girl.  But in my world, it has never been clear-cut, which is why I have a story to tell.  The lines have always been fuzzy.  Actually, not fuzzy but movable.  For much of my life, I have had to put my shoulder down and push with all of my might to move the lines that most seem content to walk within.

Gender is such a common identifier: a capital M or F on a driver’s license or a checked box on a birth certificate.  There is never any room for in between.  Everything is always hard and fast.

xx

Right or left?

I always think of the gravitational pull that I used to feel when I entered The Gap clothing store at our local mall.

The women’s clothes were on the right side of the store.  The men’s clothes on the left.

I always felt a tug of duty to enter on the right side and pass my eyes over the khakis and the button-down shirts there.

Eventually, I would loop around to the left side, which contained more khakis and button-down shirts.  In my mind’s eye, these were authentic khakis and button-downs.  They always felt more real and practical without the extra stitching or pleats or darts.

In a way, my life — my battle with gender — has been a giant loop around a boy/girl clothing store.  At first, I sought acceptance but eventually mustered up enough courage to just shop on the left.

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9 responses to “Shopping on the left side of the store

  1. Very nice.

  2. Succinctly and eloquently stated.

  3. You know I am hetero, but I can relate to this. Femininity feels bound, like it’s permanently corsetted and controlled. There have been days where I have wished I was a man. It seems simpler, less adorned and stuffed, preened and primped. These is less obligation to aesthetically please everyone, and more emphasis on doing and being.
    (And don’t worry about your blog. A smoking blog generally means someone isn’t working on their manuscript … if you’re not here, we know you’re elsewhere. That’s a good thing!)

    • I’ve never thought about it from the femme side of things. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

      And thanks for the blogging reprieve. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. I guess I feel guilty at times because the blogging started everything moving with my creative writing. It’s like the best friend who prods you to go back to school or pursue some other dream and then you no longer have time to hang out with her on Friday nights.

  4. I started shopping on the left when I was little.. somehow my mom let me without resistance until I hit high school… I had to start shopping on the right… all it did was make me feel uncomfortable and made my search for t-shirts that weren’t belly shirts way harder than it had to be. I am now a full time left side shopper. 🙂

    • Well, at least you can shop on whichever side of the store that you want these days. I try to keep that in mind.

      Also, I try to remember that my mom was probably trying to look out for me when she steered me toward girl clothes. It couldn’t have been easy for her either. I just wish that she had been a little more courageous, but I suppose that is a lot to ask from someone.

  5. The day I learned that my butt crack doesn’t have to vertically smile at everyone every time I sit down and that pockets are REAL and useful things, is the day I tried on a pair of “man’s” pants. Pure magic.

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