My mom was a proto-feminist wonder woman, and my Dad was a red-neck Hippy, their marriage didn’t last long. So at 4 years of age, I became an only child at a time, when everybody’s parents were married. Divorce had yet to become “fashionable.” I was a proto-latchkey kid. I learned how to cook my meals and cross the streets on my own at age 6. I was free-wheeling before the kids on milk cartons. I don’t think my Mom was negligent, she just was busy trying to keep our heads above poverty level. She taught me to be independent and self-reliant, and besides I was a good screamer, when I wanted to be. My parents came from religious roots, Unitarian on my mother’s and Lutheran on my father’s side. But none of this was passed on to me, much to my Gramma’s (father’s side) chagrin. I didn’t know God was a big deal until I was terrorized in first grade when I gave the wrong answer to whether I believed in HIM or not. You can guess the answer. Thankfully, this school placement was temporary, and I didn’t have to grow up permanently scarred as “the Girl who doesn’t believe in God” in a school that most certainly did!
I grew up saying the Pledge of Allegiance, but until that day, I didn’t give much thought to God and what role a Supreme Being played in my life. My parents weren’t amoral, but rather were deeply thinking and caring people who liked to figure things out for themselves. So, of course they passed this attitude on to me. I have rarely been at a loss of having an opinion. When someone says – I don’t have an opinion, on one thing or another, it absolutely BLOWS my mind. How is this possible? And I want to crack their head open like an egg, just so I can peer in and see if there are some wires loose.
I have found that this “no opinion” thing is a more typically a female response, which is a bit disconcerting. Especially when discussing controversial political, economic, world affairs, etc. So me, being a person that likes to talk about all sorts of things, I often have felt more comfortable talking to men at times. Men revel in their opinions : )
Even though, I have more male friends than female, these days, I am single, and have been for a while. I love men, and actually understand them quite well, but am not a fan of the drama of relationships. The last great drama I was involved in, was my failed marriage, which is another story for another time. Needless to say, after 20 years of either having a boyfriend, or being married … I decided that I needed to forget the whole myth of a man saving me from myself, and find my happiness outside of a relationship. And I have become so content, it is difficult to kick the habit of being single. But, until about 6 years ago, I was actually quite distressed that I would most likely never be able to be a Mom, but now I have come to consider myself lucky that I never did. I only mention this to my childless and content-with-it-being-so, girlfriends. I love children, but I realize that I must have always loved my freedom more, because I always took special precautions to never become pregnant, waiting for the man who would be a suitable father. I never met that man. And growing up with a single mother, that was the LAST thing I would do to my own kid, if I had any choice in the matter. And I did.
We almost lived like nomads, my mother and I. I went to 12 schools in 12 years. I changed hometowns so many times, it is always a “trick” question for me, when people ask me the banal – Sooo, Where are you from?
My answer – from a lot of places. And then I have to correct them, that – NO, I am not an army brat. (Although, my mother was in the naval reserves when I was a teen. But this service never affected me or where we lived. )
When I look at my history of being one of a two-person family – my mom pretty much letting me believe what I want as long as I was polite, without religious training, without a steady hometown, without lifelong childhood friends or community, without any ties to a particular region – we lived in the East coast, Midwest and West …. I am as close as you get to a blank slate, or more specifically, a whiteboard. My reality inside and out is used to being rewritten. As I get older there are sections of the whiteboard that stay untouched for years, but for the most part – there is regular editing going on in my consciousness.
And I like to think that this a particularly American consciousness, where there is the most dramatic diversity of cultures, experiences, opinions and expressions of life and thoughts existent in the world. IF you were exposed to as many of these as I was and cherry picked through them choosing what worked for me and which did not, well … you would become a pretty eclectic personality, like me. America allows for the emergence of this eclecticism, even though the American media, and our political system prefers to limit our realities to a pinpoint of who we really are and can be as a nation of individuals.
I started to write this blog, because while I am particularly at peace these days … I wasn’t always. Decades of actively creating one’s own identity, is a challenging process, at the very least. I think most of my life, until my mid 40’s was my own personal “happiness” or truthfully “unhappiness” project – trying to understand why I understood myself to be naturally prone to joy, but find myself lost in deep drearies more often than not.
A life story is not told in a day … and this won’t be all memoir …. but the gist of what I was leading to is – Whatever your state of mind is RIGHT NOW about who you are RIGHT now, if it isn’t something all bright and shiny, or something you are proud of, well … take it from someone who has lived many lives in one life – It is worth hanging out to see how your story unfolds. And believe me, each day, you can do at least one thing that will bring you closer to the person you dream of being, even if that seems like an impossible thing. In my last childhood bedroom, I used to have a poster on my wall with a little tiger cat hanging by its front claw-paws to a limb of a tree , “It said – Hang In There Kiddo!”
And I guess I took the advice to heart, because here I am still on the planet healthy and hopeful in the 21st Century.