Lipstick Was My Superpower
I miss wearing my black wedge booties. I miss wearing my Louis Vuitton scarf that I bought myself as a gift, just because. And I really miss wearing lipstick. If I’m ever feeling blah, I blot on some Mac Viva Glam — blot because otherwise it’s too dark — and it does the trick. Lipstick makes me feel “dressed” even if I’m just going to Trader Joe’s. But for most of this year, there has been no point in wearing lipstick because it just gets on the inside of my mask which I then have to wash and it’s depressing doing laundry because the only things I wash these days are my sheets, towels, and variety of pink heart pajamas.
In some ways, my life hasn’t changed because of Covid. As a writer, I work from home, moving from home office, to couch, to dining table with my laptop and coffee in a mug that reads Bliss. My days in the Before Times had more of a routine. I’d be up and out early, usually to a yoga class where I’d flow and sweat in a crowded room, taking a break in down dog or warrior two, my eyes meeting someone else’s as if to say, “are we done yet?” Or I’d meet a friend for a hike. We’d walk uphill breathless because we were exercising, not because our masks were making breathing more difficult. We’d often go for coffee after, and actually share an omelette or take a bite of each other’s scone without a care in the world. Then I’d do errands, picking up something from the drugstore or supermarket, like toilet paper or Lysol wipes, without worry that I’d run out anytime soon. Back then, I’d fill up my car with gas or run into the bank and when I got home, my first thought wasn’t to wash my hands immediately. By 11am I’d feel like I’d had a full day. But my actual workday would start after a shower. I’d answer emails, return some business calls and get started writing. This was my routine and my days felt productive.
But now, all of these days… weeks… and months of living through this pandemic, everything has changed. The interaction of seeing people I’ve known for years and standing close enough to whisper if we wanted to, no longer exists. I seldom leave the house except for a neighborhood walk, and it’s not unusual to realize it’s 2pm and I’m still wearing my pajamas.
That’s why when I spotted those black wedge boots in my closet, I felt a wistful pang. I bought them last winter and wore them on a few dates with my guy. They gave me some height and looked good with my jeans. The last time I put them on was in January, before Coronavirus shut everything down. I, along with so many others, thought things would be back to normal by summer. So I ordered myself another pair of wedges — this time denim sandals. They arrived and were even cooler than I thought having stalked them online for weeks. When I tried them on for my twenty-year-old daughter, she approved. “You can wear them with anything!” she said. I had visions of summer dining at restaurants with friends, wearing my new summer wedges, celebrating that we could be social again. But they’ve been sitting in the box they came in, for six months, never worn.
I haven’t put on real shoes or real pants or even perfume since March and I miss these things more than I ever expected. I’m not a fashionista or a shopper by any stretch, but living the life of a shut-in for most of this year, has me looking in my closet as if I’m looking for me... where did I go?
I realize how desperate I’ve become to feel normal again when I “dressed” for an interview the other day. By dress, I mean that I put on a bra and even some make up. Did I mention that the interview was a phoner? Meaning, it wasn’t even on zoom. We couldn’t see each other. Still, my lipstick, as expected, gave me some confidence. So much so that after the interview, I put on my black wedge booties and stopped by my neighbor’s porch, showing off to myself more than anyone, that hey, I still got it! I stood far enough away that for a brief moment, I pulled down my mask revealing my Mac Viva Glammed lips. “Ooh,” she said, “Pretty!” I nodded and smiled, “Thank you! Sometimes I just need it.” “Oh, I get it,” she said.
After we chatted at a safe distance, I went home to do some laundry. Including the mask I had just worn which had a lipstick smudge on the inside.
It was totally worth it.
Melissa Gould’s memoir, Widowish, will be available February 2021. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, Buzzfeed and more. She is an Award Winning screenwriter who has worked on such shows as Bill Nye the Science Guy, Beverly Hills 90210, Party of Five, and Lizzie McGuire. Find her at www.widowish.com.