March 8, 2013

love, nicolle

Dear Followers of Eden,

This is a love letter. This is odd because I do not know you nor will I likely ever meet you in real life. How bold! I am going for it and I have committed. So look out, you rascals, one of us is gonna end up a little attached.....

Here it goes:

Only Eden knows what it means to me to be beyond category.  Duke Ellington once explained that the greatest compliment paid him was when he was described as beyond category.  I think that's lovely.  As we know from the documentaries on netflix and the evening discussions with my dad, Frank, Duke Ellington was named the Duke due to his eloquence and classy dress from a young age.  Contrary to the common Depression-era racial stereotype, Duke Ellington defied category and christened himself nobility. He played for audiences of all status and color and played music that only he could write. No one could ever replicate him.

It was my junior year of high school. I remember waking up one morning and looking in the mirror. I remember being so confused because I couldn't tell if I was beautiful or ugly.  My nose lost all meaning for me. The relative-ness of beauty had been festering inside me for a while but it all just hit me that morning.  I remember putting on clothes and staring at every part of me. I no longer knew where I fit.  Even my clothes were indifferent to the expectations of the world around me. I was no longer "hot" or "unfortunate looking."  I became Nicolle.  My face was very "Nicolle" and the way I talked immediately became very "Nicolle."  I stopped being a category created by my strange friends and acquaintances.  I became me.

I think too often we allow ourselves to categorize ourselves and each other.  We like to simplify the world in order to understand it better.  Sadly, I think it just cheapens the human experience.  Duke Ellington paid no mind to category and revolutionized the way the world thought about talent and skin color.  I am no revolutionary...if I were, though, I would revolutionize the way we looked at each other. I would have us all look at each other with our names in mind instead of the type of shirt we are wearing. I would have us look at ourselves as the beautiful and unique faces we are instead of the comparable trends we are matching.

Followers of Eden! You are all so free and complicated (to the point of undefinable). You do not fit small categories like "hipster" or "poser." You are too large in soul and personality to be shrunk to that standard.  I know that if I knew you, if I really knew you, I would be infatuated by your mind and unique ideas.  You are beyond category.

Duke Ellington (and his orchestra):