I am stalking a lady with auburn hair. Not literally. I’m not prowling around her garden or trailing her around the supermarket. I’m not that weird. I’m simply stalking her in my head because she is fabulous and I want to be her. Or marry her. Or insist she be my best friend so a bit of her fabulousity could rub off on me.
I fell in love with her house first. A huge Victorian villa on a road lined with them. Most elegant and lovely but none with a bright pink caravan in the front garden. For she of the auburn pin curls has a pink caravan in the garden, presided over by a hairdresser’s mannequin that sits rather splendidly in the window, casting a beady eye over passers by and no doubt declared mawkish by those who do not appreciate the derring do of the blissfully eccentric.
The house sits across the road from Ste’s place of work and each time I picked him up, I muttered my appreciation of the pink caravan, and the rather wild fake plants stood about in matching pink pots and watched as the people of the house transformed it with a stern grey paint that offset the pink delightfully and wondered frequently who could possibly be so deliciously madcap and then one day I rocked up in the middle of the day and there she was: the woman I do believe the universe intended me to be. A woman of a certain age, wearing a dramatic black kimono, with bare legs, a headful of pin-curls and jewellery dripping off her. A woman who had dragged her maiden into the front.garden and was busy draping it in vintage linens.
In her dressing gown. Drying the loveliest laundry in the whole wide world in the front garden. With fabulous hair and a pink caravan.
It was love at first sight.
I love her. I told Ste.
Why? She looks a bit mad. What do you love about her? he replied.
But oh, how to explain? That she was so extravagantly, deliciously herself? That she didn’t care about causing a pin-curled stare, by conducting her domestic business on the glorious steps of her glorious house? Caring not a jot about blending in, but busy being so authentically her that her life had become a work of joyfully pink art?
I have seen her many times since then. Once in a silly, happy, tattoo revealing, sundress with a head full of bouncy auburn curls artfully arranged and once in a floaty, floor trailing tropical print, her pin-curls and a simply enormous pair of earrings. Always fabulous. Even when she is rearranging the plant-pots, or raking the white gravel her caravan sits on.
And each time I see her, I want to jump out of my sensible white car, in my sensible uniform of head to toe black and ask her to show me how to be my own version of who she is: my own version of living out loud authenticity. How to find the energy? How to give no hoots? How to un-tether the aura of dullness I do believe I have recently draped myself in?
I want to say “Were you always like this, or did something set you free?”