Blending In...or Not
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Last night, I was fortunate enough to be invited to an open house/cocktail party at the very popular 1154 Lill. Located on Armitage between Halsted and Sheffield, this make-your-own-handbag boutique calls Kiehl's, BeneFit, Betsey Johnson, Lush, Cynthia Rowley, Art Effect, and Paul Frank its neighbors. In short, this is a neighborhood I am very rarely in. It is to Chicago what Georgetown is to Washington D.C.

There is something difficult, at least to me, about Lincoln Park. The only neighborhood in Chicago in which I've never had any desire to live, it mocks me whenever I am there -- and yet, my complex about it is of my own making. Every time I am there, I feel assaulted by polished-looking yuppie couples with $900 strollers and a black lab, and have a hard time NOT feeling somehow inferior. Who ordered the frumpy with insanity sauce, and a side of inappropriately out of place? It's crazy, really. I would have owned to this a long time ago, but that damned Eleanor Roosevelt quote rolls around in my head each time I think to post about it.

When I arrived last night, feeling squashed and wrinkly from my busy day, I had trouble getting in. I'm not kidding. WHY DON'T WE JUST GO BACK TO 7TH GRADE AND YOU CAN TELL ME THAT MY GLASSES ARE TOO BIG AND I CAN'T BE COOL IF I'M NOT A CHEERLEADER?! THIS ISN'T STUDIO 54, FOR GOD'S SAKE. Once I finally got the golden ticket to actually join the party, I walked into the joyful, brightly-lit room, and saw my friend Jen (a.k.a. she who always appears perfectly pressed and put together but don't hold this against her because she isn't really the robot she appears to be). I hung up my ratty fleece next to a coat rack full of impossibly clean, stylish winter coats with cute scarves (no lint on any of them - how is this possible?). I turned around to join the party, and was confronted with a room full of impeccably put-together women, all of whom seemed totally wrinkle-free in their clothing, had matching jewelry on each part where jewelry is supposed to go, and though it was misty outside, there wasn't a frizzy head to be found (excepting mine, of course).

I felt like a lipstick-stained coffee mug in a room full of sparkling champagne glasses.

One adorably-coordinated work tote (and one pink martini) later, I still didn't feel like I fit in. I had fun, for sure, because who wouldn't love making a customized handbag -- especially myself, who loves handbags more than life itself?! Yet something didn't feel quite right. I suppose my first task for 2007 will be to shape up my mental self-esteem. What Eleanor Roosevelt said was true, and I have a responsibility to just be myself.

There is something Stepfordian about it, that the neighborhood itself makes me feel like I have to immediately put on lipstick and powder my face. Gag. Lincoln Park is my kryptonite.

I guess I'm just more of a downtown girl. A wrinkly one who likes orange handbags.