Supermen

mm and superman

Today I listened to a story from the This American Life archives about Mark Wyzenbeek; who started going out dressed as Superman after his wife died. He also learned to sew and makes his own costumes.* He says:

“I had never had anyone real close to me pass away before. Your grandparents, they’ve lived a full life and you’re expecting that. But someone so young and beautiful and with their whole life ahead of them, it just really hit me that she doesn’t have any more tomorrows. And I thought, well, I better start getting as much out of today– each today– as I can.

And what would help me do that? And I enjoy wearing the costumes. And I just couldn’t wait to go out somewhere and have a bunch of people see it. And it’s just been a real kick ever since.”

This reminds me of a man from my mom’s Quaker group named Dick. Dick always showed up for Sunday meeting in head-to-toe plaids. I think perhaps he had found something that was beautiful and made sense to him and he decided to stick with it. Really get to know it, and let that thing define his identity in some way. I really admire this quality.

In my story, the courage to transform into Marilyn came after a miscarriage. My realization was like Mark’s: life can be so short. Why wait?

I wonder who was Marilyn’s man-of-steel. She was known to keep a picture of Abraham Lincoln by her bed. “I used to read everything I could find about him, he was the only famous American who seemed most like me, at least in his childhood.” she wrote in her autobiography.

I wonder if Marilyn was Norma Jeane’s Superman?

Marilyn is very much my Superman lately. She is my plaid outfit. Engaging in this year-long pursuit of her is changing me. I am not becoming her so much as becoming defined by proximity. I am becoming. Not her. Not me. An adventurer carved out by the journey, never reaching the destination.

*The picture above is not Mark Wyzenbeek.

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