On my way into work this morning, the local alterna-rock station (which is actually old fogey alterna-rock since they specialize in the Smiths, the Cure, the Pixies, etc.) was playing "Jane Says" by Jane's Addiction, which always makes me sigh a little. Not because I'm in love with the song, though I do like it a whole lot. It's just got a lot of sentimental value.
The first time I heard the song, I was in my high school photography lab. It was my senior year, and that was the year when I started making decisions based on who I wanted to be and not whom I wanted to please. Which is why I was in the photography lab in the first place -- in my original plan, my senior year was packed with academic courses. But then I arrived at senior year and realized that I really wanted to plug art classes into all of my elective spots. So, out went AP Biology and Calculus, and in came Fine Art II and Photography.
Anyway, a group of us were hanging out in the lab after school, dodging and burning some of our prints when "Jane Says" came on the radio. A sophomore, Tina, danced around because she loved the song. One of the other kids, Ben, laughed in a conspiratorial way (he had a tragically huge unrequited crush on her, and knew that she was enamored of the group). Tina had a dyed black bob and a nose ring before they were de riguer for art students. Ben had a slicked back ponytail and specialized in trench coats and combat boots. I was wearing a pastel pink and blue sweater and white jeans*.
We all got along well enough, but I sighed because in that moment I recognized that to be me, I had to accept that I wasn't going to be able to conform to the "art student" look, which likely meant that my art wasn't going to be taken seriously by the other kids in my classes. 'Cause you know, how can you produce interesting stuff if you aren't riddled with anxieties, insecurities, and loneliness? And wear a lot of black?
But guess who got an Honorable Mention in the student photography competition that year in the Towsontown Spring Festival, eh?
*I wouldn't wear that outfit now if you paid me.