I grew up in small-town, Middle America.
My mom was the Prom Queen.
She went to Sock Hops. (poodle skirts, anyone?!).
She was a synchronized swimmer.
My dad had a root beer stand in high school.
He was an Eagle Scout.
Lutheran & Norwegian (never 100% sure which was which!).
They got married at 21.
They bought a convertible & moved to southern California in 1965.
They moved back to Middle America when I was 4.
I had a sweet, rather Carefree existence in Small Town USA until I turned 16.
Truth be Told, I was “Rookie of the Year” on the Pom-Pon Squad.
I was on the Student Council.
I was the Majorette in the band.
But, the last 2 years of high school SUCKED! I hated it. Couldn’t get out fast enough. Literally Counted the Days…
I was craving something REAL. MEATY. RAW.
I moved to Sweden right after high school, & it was Fantastic.
The landscape was very similar to that of the Mid-West. But, I was living in the middle of the forest with an International crowd.
It was Healthy!
I Questioned Everything.
What was Real for me?
I ended up also working at a youth hostel in Amsterdam with former pimps & guerrilla war-fighters, etc.
When I first got there I had a slight panic attack. Though it’s canals, etc. are charming, it’s VERY URBAN compared to rural Sweden or Middle America! And, I went there Alone!
But, in that space, I was touched by something VERY REAL. The people I worked with were so “broken”, for lack of a better word? (in the best way!). They had an Authenticity to them. They were so Open, Loving, & (…that word again!) Real. Connected.
I went back to the States a “different person”. Quite Literally.
Some people didn’t even recognize me.
I have often said I was “born” in Sweden.
It’s where I questioned things & birthed my own Identity.
From there I lived in Montana, Oregon, Colorado, Denmark, & (back to) California. Oregon was like “kindergarten” to me. I was in architecture school, & it felt like “play school” to me. It was my “reggio emilia” education, if you will. A time to “think outside the box” in a Creative environment & Explore! It was brilliant. I also call that time like being in “Bay Area 101”. There were a lot of kids there from the SF Bay Area. At that time, I had never eaten sushi. I had never met a Jew.
say no more…
Then, I moved to the Bay.
It was time to put this “Bay Area 101” meets “Reggio Emilia Play school” diploma to use! 🙂
I moved to the edge of the “Hood”/ghetto.
I learned a bit of cantonese.
I ate at my plethora of ethiopian restaurants down the street.
I travelled by myself to Mexico, & with my boyfriend to Thailand & India. What all 20-somethings should do!
I lived with a smorgasbord of people: co-ed, multi-racial…& had a GRAND OLD 20-something time.
And, this is how I landed up is HIS BACKYARD.
His parents are hippies.
She was an activist during Apartheid.
She got pregnant at 17.
He left South Africa to live in Israel.
He ended up in Berkeley in a commune.
He went to Grateful Dead shows.
He believed in “Free Love”.
He lived in a camper van.
My boyfriend grew up quite poor. Yet, his home was right on the sea. (mine on a lake). His stepdad fished fresh abalone & caviar right out the sea (mine fetched us frozen pizzas from the Piggly Wiggly).
the likes of June Cleaver crossed paths with those of Jerry Garcia.
Barry Manilow with Bob Dylan.
The meeting place:
A place where all walks of life converge.
And, honestly, a girl growing up in small-town conservative Middle America is just as”foreign” to me here as a punk kid from urban Korea.
All worlds colliding.
And then, we land in Africa.
The dad who moved to Israel come Berkely come Santa Cruz-camper van found his way back to South Africa. NEXT DOOR to the former activist mother of his child he impregnated at 17.
In some ways, not much has changed. They are still “children of the 60’s”.
They are exploring Jewish mysticism meets New Age alternative realities. And, to top it off, the Jewish mystic moved in with the ex-wife’s good friend of 20 years, the Shaman, also known as “Spirit Eagle”.
Meanwhile the sock hop & root-beer sellin’ mid-westerners are still attending their local Presbyterian church, enjoying retirement, hitting a few golf balls…
Did I get my RAW?
Did I get my “REAL”?
Did I get my “MEAT”?
Had I traversed the landscape (both cultural & literal) of the Mid-West far enough? To the opposite ends of the earth + spectrum of life?
The first time my boyfriend came to the Mid-West he was glossed over with starry eyes at the “all-American” Christmas Experience. Frozen lake for ice-skating in the backyard. Snowmen. Christmas trees with ornaments collected throughout the years. Fireplace. Christmas songs sung together at the piano. a Christmas ham. a Christmas apron. Christmas smells from the Christmas candles & the essence of the Evergreens.
I thrived in South Africa. The life force/the Energy was Brilliant. I felt SO ALIVE.
You can’t help it.
The wind is always blowing.
The waves are always crashing.
The light is so BRILLIANT.
The air so fresh & clean.
And then there were times/moments where I thought, “How did I get here?! Why did I choose to go from the local ” singing village Pharmacist” (my dad) + “Hometown Hero” to the local “Spirit Eagle”? from cheerleaders to belly dancers?
I met another American Mid-Western girl in S. Africa. She loved it. She had no interest in Ever leaving, tho she sometimes fantasized about “pushing a jogger stroller with her golden retriever”.
We don’t want “Little Boxes on the Hillside”. But, we need the right dosage of a bit of radical with a bit of “mundane”.
2 cups of poodle skirt
2 Tbsp. Wanderlust campervan
1 tsp. “Free Love”
Heaping Tbsp. “Hometown Hero”
a pinch of “Spirit Eagle”
3/4 c. Christmas Carols
2 c. Jewish Enlightenment
Enjoy a part puppy, part Raging Lion cocktail with deep roots & wings to fly. With deep calm & raging fire. With coziness & an unquenchable, Fervent Spirit to Satisfy your every whim/heartfelt desire. To make you Whole.
My project is more & more about “Oneness” (to sound a bit cliche).
but, I’m finding it’s so much about a thread of Humanity.
boy scout from Arkansas, pole dancer from Shanghai, or Zulu warrier from God knows where.
it’s a CELEBRATION. a DANCE of the Authentic differences & the Beautiful oneness of us all.