Saturday, September 29, 2012

Then and now

Did I ever really look like this? Good lord. As far as I can tell, I was about 22, working at Annie's Santa Fe in Kansas City, a Tex-Mex theme restaurant on the Country Club Plaza. It was around 1974 or 1975, my first restaurant job and the first time that people called me "Ruby," a name so enduring that I still have friends who refer to me that way.

I have no memory of the picture, or (surprisingly) of the dress. I can see that I was wearing one of my hand made pins but I don't remember what it said. I produced lots of hand made pins back in the day. My favorites were my "It's not my fault" buttons and (as my brother reminded me today) the "Learning to love cheap things" pin. I was a cartoonist, too, in my early 20s. The one thing I recognize in this picture is the bra - the inspiration for a series I called "Strapless Bra Comics." It was a strip about a mousy girl who, when she placed her strapless bra beneath her pillow, had crazy psychedelic dreams about exotic adventures, spy intrigues and passionate love affairs.

The last panel of every strip featured me, waking up in the morning, remembering the dreams. The bra strap was always visible from under the pillow.

My favorite part was drawing my hair which was much as it is now except hennaed a deep shade of purplish red.

Certainly I was stoned when the pic was taken. Smoking weed figured heavily into my day to day routines at that age. Probably I had been drinking, too. When I worked at Annie's, if we wanted to get high, we would stick our heads through the dishwasher window where the dishwasher was inevitably always smoking a joint. We would take a hit, then keep working. The bartenders presented us with shots of tequila on demand. Oh my god, what an era!

I look at this picture in awe. I was so juicy. Bloody hell, look at those lips! Though I'm no longer beautiful like that, the thing is, I'm so much happier now. The woman in the picture above was incredibly anxious, angry, bitter, full of roiling, unresolved issues, fear - and unfortunately - raging with hormones. I had no idea, yet, that my life's path was to be a healer. I didn't know which way was up or down. In other words, I was a hot mess.

I was exactly like a character in a Woody Allen movie: really smart, cynical, funny, sharp, wounded, neurotic. And I loved sex. Boy did I NOT enjoy my life at that time.

How funny to see this snap. I've never laid eyes on it before. Someone who worked with me at Annie's posted it to the FB page of a friend of my brother, who immediately recognized me. This is what I love about FB - the impossible connections we make there. When I first saw the pic, I thought, "Oh, that woman looks a lot like I did as a young woman." It actually took me a few minutes to realize it is me. Wow. Or should I say: whoa!

59 suits me so much better than 22 - on the inside. On the outside, well ... wow.


The real me.


Cheryl Cato said...

Fabulous! Those are great lips! It took me until the summer of 1977 to begin the really hot sex and like you say, Whoa! :-) LF

Reya Mellicker said...

I started at age 15 and powered through young adulthood.

Pam said...

I could never understand the hangups about sex - to me,it was as natural as eating, breathing, part of life. Back in the day,when some talked about "only after the marriage ceremony thank-you " I used to think of the analogy of why would you not eat food all year to save yourself for Christmas Day! Heralding in the era of the pill was a truly liberating experiece.I think we were young in interesting times. Loved the photo!

Reya Mellicker said...

We certainly were!

Steve Reed said...

Reya, what a great picture! And how incredible to have it surface this way, out of the mists of time. Makes me wonder what photos are wandering around out there that we don't even know about, you know?

Isn't Facebook amazing? The connections we make these days just blow me away. When I think about how just five or ten years ago I had NO IDEA where all my old friends were, and now I'm connected with them all on Facebook. Strange.

ellen abbott said...

I love this picture. that could have been me...high all the time, all into sex before my short first marriage and very much so after it, (at 22 I was married), and basically unhappy with my life (and not as some might say because of the pot and sex), not having figured out who and what I was yet, what I really wanted to do, hadn't found my life's work yet. being married served to get me out from under my father's thumb but I realized shortly after that I didn't really like the guy.

Reya Mellicker said...

I was already divorced when that picture was taken!

Ellen we have a powerful sistership. Makes me smile.

Gary said...

I looked at this picture and immediately thought, "This person looks like a friend". I obviously gravitate to you for some reason (as so many others do) no matter what your age.

Carolina Linthead said...

I only know one Reya...the you I see here and on Fb. I love this Reya very, very much. Yes, Ruby was luscious. No, I would not have known what to do with her. You were the antithesis of me in some ways...the same in others. We survived! Hallelujah! Celebrate YAH! We survived.

Reya Mellicker said...

I went beyond survival with a passion, Michael. Spent ten years in therapy, sought the help of many "alternative" healers, I worked on my own healing so hard! There's still work to be done but I'm so very much more than a survivor - and apparently very proud of all that work! Ha!

Anonymous said...

Wow! In the 1970's you would have been a girl I very much admired, wanted to emulate, and been terrified of. It amazes me to read your description of yourself--I would never have thought that!

I'm glad that some of us survived those years (and grieve those who didn't), and I'm also glad that some of us have been able to do better than survive. Although I do still miss the freedom of being young and beautiful in an era that was easier in so many ways.

Thanks, as always, for the Gold Puppy blog