Thanks to my boi Dan for inspiring me to post. Check out his blog at http://killinitinnc.blogspot.com
My background is different from a lot of people. Growing up pagan, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist sets me up in an interesting situation.
Plus, I currently live in the south.
I specifically remember going to my cousins’ bar mitzvahs and family celebrations, and the older I got, the more I received the question: "Have you found a nice Jewish boy yet?", My overmakeup-ed aunt would ask me with that intense New York accent. "What are you doing? If you ever want to run away, you can always come live with me,” my aunt Debbie would say in a wicked thick NY accent. Her perfume offered a whiff into a life I never really knew. As if my suburban lifestyle was just oh so awful. I mean, living in New York would be nice. But it is not as if my unique religious background was making me want to run away. I think it was an endearing thing to say, as though she loves me so much and would want me to live with her, but I still found it rather odd. She would say it with a smile and I would laugh, and my mother would say “Debbie” and she would smile and hug me. My mother would lovingly take my hand and lead me onto the dance floor to sway to the music.
There were no artificial scents here. A true deadhead at heart (and at one point, on the road), my mother’s never shaven legs and free flowing skirt was a stark difference to my suburban town and Jewish family. Sure, I went through an awkward stage of being embarrassed like we all are, and wondering why she doesn’t wear makeup or care about driving a BMW like the rest of my town in Boston (or much of my New York family). We figured out together as I sat at the edge of the bathtub how to shave my legs, where she continually told me I did not need to if I did not want to. My health educator in 7th grade told us differently.
She looked like a seaweed in the ocean. I danced alongside her, and the older I got the more I ended up looking and dancing like her. She never drank (this is where we differ and I take on my father’s characteristic). My father would have a decent amount of wine or beer and end up on the dance floor doing the “boogaloo” as he coined it, which equated to him doing something looking like he was squishing a bug into the floor. But I think it was my mother who instilled this incredible joy for moving the body to music, sans the booze.
The pagan part of my childhood is from my mother-- she is kind of like the Jewish hippie earth loving deadhead. The gem. The super sweet, married at 22 to my father, and commenced to having four children and living not in New York or New Jersey (gasp) but in Boston. He was a journalist, a much calmer and put together self made American dream of Swedish immigrants. They fell in love, and one day while walking on the beach he said, “So, do you like, wanna get married or something?”.
|Mama bear and I in San Francisco circa 2010|