Recently I was asked what I wanted.
Not what I wanted in my tea or what I wanted on my salad, but what I wanted out of life.
This seemingly innocuous little query dredged up tumultuous feelings inside, forcing me to realize that-
A) the things I’ve always wanted had, while I wasn’t paying attention, morphed into something
B) that I needed to have a serious rethink before I could answer definitively.
I opened a bottle of wine and had a good chug from the neck. Clarification often accompanies a good Cabernet.
There I sat, glass beside me, “writing it out”.
What do you want, ZB? I asked myself. The answer was surprising.
If I’m going to be honest with you, and myself, I’ll have to admit that I used to want wealth, fame and glory, an ugly remnant of growing up in the spotlight surrounded by people with big dreams and big lives. Teenage dreams are hard to let go of sometimes, especially when they still seem within reach.
I used to want a life filled with expensive, minimalist things and easy opportunities for adventures and madness.
I used to want an eternity of sex, drugs and rock and roll.
I used to want my days to be filled with private jets, high-budget catering and make-up artists who would satisfy my craving for fuller lips by drawing mine bigger. I wanted photographers to tell me I was beautiful and designers to keep giving me their clothes. I needed those things to feel valuable and alive.
I still want the adventures and the eternity of sex and rock and roll, only now I want less casual sex with much more love in it, and even louder music.
That’s a relief.
So what HAS changed?
Now I want babies and security and love and simplicity- I want a family, something that, despite all my beautiful relatives and their unconditional love, I never felt I had. Now I have to write to feel worthy. Now I have to create in order to feel alive. Now I have to be present to feel beautiful. All I have to do is show up.
My how things change.
The thing is, if I were to really consider it, I’ve already had a pretty big life.
I’ve been to every continent (except the frozen one).
I’ve loved and I’ve lost, many times over.
I’ve experienced death, depression, disaster.
I’ve hit rock bottom and seared my wings against the sun.
I’ve done the most glamorous things and the most sordid.
I’ve cat-walked all over the world, shot covers for Elle, been photographed for Vogue, and been forcibly ejected from the most gruesome dens of iniquity between Hong Kong and Manhattan.
I’ve lived the high life and licked the underbelly.
I’ve amused people and offended others.
I’ve been a brat and a belle.
I’ve stayed in castles and squatted in shacks.
I’ve partied with presidents, skinny dipped with rock stars, discussed architecture-politics-urination-sexual proclivities and literature with celebrated thinkers, and committed petty ‘crimes’ with unexpected celebrities.
I’ve traveled with dear friends and nursed them through madness.
I’ve done lots of crazy shit and blah blah blah seen things that would make my poor mothers hair curl if I wrote it here.
In short, I’ve lived, but I’ve never done anything, no matter how debauched, for any kind of personal gain or anything without honor and good intent.
I might be twisted, but I’m not bent.
I know for absolute certain that the life I’ve lived since I was thirteen years of age would not and could not have happened had I not been modeling. It’s a fact.
My first foray into the inner sanctum of the fashion industry was in the late 80’s, at a time when the catering budget was higher than the collective wages of the entire crew, and a time when nobody was eating. They couldn’t, their noses were too full.
I was young. So young.
And so impressionable.
The times were decadent, destructive and delicious. High camp ruled the social scene and air kisses were often a prelude to hasty sex in darkened corners. It was an irresponsible time. AIDS had made it’s appearance and we were, unknowingly, about to lose several of our finest, maddest and most creative. It would take a long time for us to slow down and grow up. We all thought we were invincible. I know I did.
The fashion industry is a strange place to grow up in. But, like anything, it is what you make of it. For me it was a hard road of misadventure and madness… a road that has come full circle and is now winding through gentler pastures with more creative scenery.
I like it.
Perhaps I’ll send you a postcard.