If you were to look at me now, except for the occasional black dress (or, well — ok… A LOT of black dresses); you would never think, hey, that lady was a teenage goth. I’m fairly “normal” looking, whatever that means.  I guess I mean I don’t much look like someone who is or has ever been into any sort of alternative lifestyle.  Maybe if you spent some time talking with me without ever having seen me, you might begin to form some sort of goth-y impression due to various interests or whatever.  But I’m not.

I’m really not.

I don’t have many photos of myself as a teen, but in them you would see a healthy looking 14 or 15 or 16 year girl old with frizzled, fried blonde hair, wearing a lot of heavy metal tee shirts.  The hair was thanks to my mother; I don’t know why she wanted us blonde (“us”, for my sisters underwent the same surreal afternoon Sun-In treatments), but this resulted in a brassy mop and a lot of damaged, split ends.

The heavy metal tee shirts were black —  that just goes with the territory, I suppose.

I read a lot of horror back then, as I do now.  Ghost stories. Weird tales, tales of the unknown. That sort of thing. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t gravitate toward those stories.  Ever since I saw Scooby Doo encounter his first vampire, I recall being fascinated by these things.

I was a loner and didn’t have any friends, really. At least any friends of my own.  If our lunch periods intersected, I would eat with my sister and her friends, or my boyfriend at the time, but for the most part I was alone. I would hunt out a secluded corner (even if it meant on the floor, right next to the girl’s bathroom), settle in, pull out a book, and eat my lunch while no doubt getting crumbs in the pages.

While never actually a goth, I have always been a slob.

Back to the heavy metal music. It felt like at that time there was a division between people who listened to {Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies} and those who listened to things like The Cure, or Depeche Mode.  As if you couldn’t listen to both, or all!  Well, that’s teenage-think for you, I guess.  I also remember thinking Morrissey was incredibly lame.  Confession: I still do.

Anyway, when people refer to me or my writing or whatever in any sort of goth-y way, I get really uncomfortable. I feel like a giant fraud.  I mean, I didn’t even listen to Disentegration until I was 35! (And to be honest, I really liked it.)  Maybe I am a late in life goth, I don’t know. Maybe I have a secret goth heart.

My secret goth heart looks like Holly Hobby, if she wore all black, by the way.

My secret goth heart loves cemetery strolls and melancholy piano tinklings and all poetry –even the “bad” stuff.  It loves thunderstorms and gloomy days and mossy castles and spooky tea parties and seances.  It loves gothic romance and horror novels and antiquated ghost stories and scary movies in dark houses.  It loves black lace and ruffles and sequins and dark florals and embellished bonnets and parasols. It loves dark art and darker music and the darkest humor.

20 years later it has still not unraveled the mystery of what makes Morrissey so great, though.

I need a word for I’m “really not goth at all but I am super into darkness”, just so I can set people straight.  If I’m going to be labeled, let’s figured this out.

Jack says

All the real goths (Siouxsie, Andrew Eldritch, Robert Smith) deny being goths, so where does this leave us? WHERE DOES THIS MADNESS END?!

S. Elizabeth says

Jack, I can't believe I didn't even start listening to Siouxsie until a few years ago. I mean, what else am I missing???

Shana says

Aren't we just the Macabre? Which is a far classier name for us anyway, who wants to be labeled Goth, it doesn't roll off the tongue, it isn't mysterious or French. We are the Macabre.

S. Elizabeth says

Shana, I like to think that when my friends are getting ready to introduce me to another friend, they pull them aside and say something like "well, listen, the thing about Sarah...she's a little WEIRD." HA. I think that's a perfect description :P

(but macabre works too!)

Shana says

All my friends know I'm the weird one. So it is fitting that we are friends.

JW says

I wish teen-aged me could have been besties with teen-aged you. Then I could have had lunch on the stairwell by the library & chatted about horror/sci-fi novels and terrible angsty teen poetry with someone infinitely better than my manipulative, backstabbing, gold-digging cousin. If only the universe hadn't plonked me down on Canada's asshole. All the awesome people are somewhere else (says my inner teen, with a melodramatic sigh.)

P.S: I don't like Morrissey either, mostly because that was all my aunt (only 6 yrs older than me) listened to, but also for an inexplicable vocal quality that grated on my nerves.

S. Elizabeth says

Oh, you have no idea how I would have loved a like-minded, kindred spirit bestie during those years! And maybe you could have convinced me to dump that dopey boyfriend!

Michelle says

I don't think I labeled myself as goth but I loved and still live black and just the splendors of it.

Jamie says

Choosing a subculture was such a strange unifying/dividing experience as a teenager. You absolutely nailed it about the teenage division there between people listening to x vs y.

Labels are weird - for a long time I felt really conflicted about identifying as "goth" because so many of my interests weren't. Don't get me wrong, a lot were (and are) but if asked what I liked, often if I name checked something that decidedly did not fall under that black umbrella people would balk and look at me sideways and say "But...that's not goth" which would make me feel like a fraud as well and that the great El Gotho would come by night and revoke my goth card or something ;p

Need a word for I’m “really not goth at all but I am super into darkness”?

Darkly inclined? I'm running with uh Dark Bohemianism these days as a catch all ;p

Also Holly Hobby is my new style icon.

Neyon says

Thunderstorms are awesome. I feel I get more thrilled at them than is normal

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