My momma got a knee replacement last week so I flew down to cook meals for her. Since she couldn't do much, her, my two little sisters, and I all played Animal Crossing for 4 days straight.
My sisters and Mom all have characters that look and act like them. But I named my avatar Tiger Lily; she had chocolate skin and had a bright pink pixie hair cut. She wore ridiculously fun outfits designed to make my family burst into laughter each time they came over to my island. She couldn't have looked further from me; with no one to impress I've basically lived in grey sweatpants all year.
My youngest sister was a total shark in the game. She knew exactly how to accrue the most amount of money in the least amount of time. But I'm the business woman in the family... why did I not give a fuck about that aspect of the game? Instead of catching the biggest fish and selling turnips (how you get rich), Tiger Lily would stargaze and dance in the rain and make up weird quirky stories about the villagers.
Why did I give myself a completely new identity?
Last weekend I was driving back from the airport with my sisters. We were all laughing so hard we could barely breathe, and I realized I hadn't felt such joy in months. During the late nights, we drove in the pitch black under the rural Arizonan stars, listening to the best music, chasing wildfires and practicing our night photography. During the day, we would joke and smile and sit in silence, and I felt whole again.
When I left, my mom said, 'Bye Princess Tiger Lily! I can't wait to see you again!' She talked like my silly Nintendo character was a truer version of myself than Madi Taskett is.
Everything about Tiger Lily screamed wild, free, imaginative, creative, delightfully weird, and connected to her community. She is everything I've lacked since quarantine started in March.
So this morning I went thrifting and picked up a really loud, sparkly evening gown (dude, it's everything.) This evening, I bought a bunch of bright paints and went out into the forest behind my dad's house (I'm currently visiting him). I raged on those canvases, getting paint all over them, all over me, all over the grass underneath my feet. Bright colors everywhere, with no lines to stay in, no rules, no dreary grey sweatpants, no more being alone.
It felt wild, free, imaginative, creative, and delightfully weird. I think Princess Tiger Lily would be proud.