By Victoria Moore
The hardest thing I've had to do since I started my breast cancer journey is transition back into the "real world" as a newly disabled person. At times I have a difficult time conceptualizing who I actually am now until I become exhausted or come down with a virus after visting "Costco" or going to a movie. Outwardly, and fully dressed, I look like the same old me but unclothed my body is a tapestry of scars amid smooth skin and a slim physique. I am imperfect, and a woman with a warrior's spirit, but still with the awkward shyness of a bewildered little girl. If I were an animal I'd probably be a six-month old kitten.
Due to the way I see my body now I also look for new ways to express who I currently am and aspire to be. Lately I've been drawn to very tactile looks-faux fur coats, puffy jackets, satin blouses, velvet skirts and cozy sweaters-that look luxe and feel luscious. Through the pages of "Vogue," "Harper's Bazaar," and "Elle" I fantasize about all of the clothes I'd buy if I had deep pockets and how wonderful I'd look if I were model perfect. Lately, my new perspective has led me to seek out other style resources on the internet, too, where personal style is prized over perfection. Photographed in various locations, especially on the street, I regularly check out other "fashionistas" on "LookBook.nu" and "Tokyo Fashion". Besides making internet connections with like-minded individuals around the world I've also been able to check out how others dress without exposing myself to germs at the mall or in a store.
This, in turn, has taught me to see my appearance as an integral part of the environment. So now when I'm out and about in the city, I'm more observant. You could say I've become a visionary who instantly transforms my surroundings to fit my new internal landscape. Whenever I pass by a street with run-down buildings, trash on the sidewalk, and graffiti on the the walls, I mentally repaint and refurbish the surfaces, pick up the trash, powerwash the sidewalk, and replace the tagging with glorious murals. Before my diagnosis, and subsequent path, this wasn't one of my concerns but today it is. It's important for me to be aesthetically fulfilled by my surroundings as a way of coping with all of the physical, emotional and psychological compromises I've had to make.
In the beginning I was unsure how to do this until I started visiting various art galleries every month. "The Word is Art" is one that I've recently added to my list of favorites, along with "Trunk," "Buckwild," WWA," and "G2." Spacious and wonderfully decorated with paintings, photographs, jewelry and other art pieces when I visited, it's an enervating oasis in the middle of a vibrant walking area. When it replaced a floor store that had been there for years, I realized that all change isn't bad and some things can even change for the better. Hopefully the same will be said for me as I enter an exciting, but uncertain, future.