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Confessions of a Humble Belly Dancer

Published January 18, 2012 by megdedwards

I started belly dancing about 12 years ago. And no, I did not slowly work my way up the ranks to head belly dancer and start my own belly dancing school.

I don’t have a series of a velvet outfits and a business card with my dancer’s name on it, Megara’s School of Dance.  But a lot of my friends who started the art of belly dancing that long ago do actually have dancer’s names now.

I am not sure why I cannot bring myself to move to that apparently inevitable next step. But it says a lot about me.

Let’s go over the information you have about me  if you have been reading this blog: I was shy as a kid, I didn’t know I was in any way good looking for quite some time, maybe still don’t know that deep down. And I never, ever, wanted to be a princess. I never looked at myself in the mirror and smiled coyly, or wafted about like a princess.

Knowing these essential facts about me, you and I both would be surprised at see how good a dancer I am now in my late forties.  I have learnt how to move really gracefully, I can move like a queen and whip that scarf around like a real dancer. I can move my shoulders in a delightful wiggle and do nice little dance steps with my body pulled up in a lovely dancer’s posture.

The really great thing about belly dancing is that it is quite difficult, and your mind will have to focus on the actual mechanics, leaving no place for embarrassed inhibition. It is hard work to isolate a hip movement or move only your rib cage, and it takes a lot of practice.

I feel like I am pretty good now, and I have heard that once or twice from a generous friend of mine. But most prima donna belly dancers are stingy with the compliments. That has been a bit hard for me as I admit that I need positive feedback to continue tackling a difficult challenge. I am one of those people that sort of withers up under constant criticism. So I have had a bit of a battle keeping at belly dancing.

But I am drawn back because I love to dance, and I love the music. And my back and torso love the exercise. I am not saying that I have abs of any form.   As far as I am concerned you can only get abs by doing exercises that are not natural to women.  I tried this out last year with a  misguided  ‘8 minute abs’ video (‘you can’t hurt yourself doing these exercises’, says the man, and I answer, “ yes, you can’)  I think I gave myself a hernia in my poor stretched stomach, but I have never hurt myself belly dancing.

I still love to dance and I still love belly dancing, in my own way. But I have stopped classes. For the most part that is because in order to have belly dancing classes in Baie Verte I have to rent the hall, call all the gals, collect the cash, run the class and pay for the hall no matter how many people come.

As you can imagine this makes the whole decision as to whether I want a weekly dance class a little burdensome. I don’t get to go down to the Y and just sign up and then just do my best. I have to run the dam class and I can tell you being a dance teacher was never a private fantasy of mine.

I have tried to write positive articles on body image and belly dancing before but they turned out a bit formulaic. I even had a neat metaphor comparing the colored belts of Tae Kwon Do with the self-anointed jingly belts that belly dancers buy themselves. I liked to make the case that belly dancers have no master and promote themselves by buying increasingly jingly and colorful belts until they buy themselves entire outfits.

But something was missing in my writing about belly dancing, and that was the honesty that I take to the personal blog.  I was not being entirely truthful about how I felt about belly dancing and it just made the piece flat. That is what I love about this blog. I ain’t selling it and I don’t care if anyone is buying it, so I speak my mind.

I confess I am a belly dancer who is at the stage where she should be teaching, but does not want to teach. Like the martial artist that moves away and starts his own school, I should be renting my own space, selling my wares and sharing the art and experience of belly dancing to newcomers. I know I can teach a beginners class in belly dancing no problem, but I seem to be lacking the hunger to do so.

I stopped running my weekly class about a year ago and my body is not thanking me. It is a great work out and dancing makes me happy.  I keep thinking I will start again but I am not enthusiastic about the class. What I really wanted was a collaborative work out class in which no one is really in charge. I ran it like that for quite some time with a friend and I thought we did really well.

Neither of us had the desire to be the leader so we split up the exercises and had a free form class in which we followed some routine and just made it up as we went. Some women did not like that no one was officially in charge.  But there was a core group of about six who managed quite well – we danced, we got our heart beats up, we laughed and talked, we stretched.

As I describe the class I am tempted to start again but our hall is becoming expensive and we only have a few women right now who could come. One hard core dancer took a break from belly dancing and threw out her knee in an ill advised attempt to get abs in a Tae Kwon Do. Never aim for abs.

I had one really fabulous class which I taught myself of which I am still proud.  We did our yoga stretches to lovely music, we did more and more dance moves until our hearts were beating fast, we practiced an old dance and we practiced improvisation.

We have one song in which the gals form a circle and do dance moves on the outside ring while one or two gals go in the middle and dance a sole for a short amount of time. We take turns, and no one really watches the gal in the middle that closely because they are thinking of their moves on the outside, so it feels safe in the circle.

I had my old pal from Halifax visiting, a friend that goes back to high school, and she is a dance student from way back so she leapt into the class with  enthusiasm.  We have danced together many times, often shoving the men out of the way so we could have fun dancing.

When we went into the middle of the circle we worked together and traded moves back and forth and looked at each other as we danced. That is the way I want to belly dance, with women, and in a causal noncompetitive mode.

What I find disappointing about belly dancing is the singular quality: one girl dances on the stage and everyone cheers for the princess of the moment.  But I want it to be collaborative and communicative.  To me, this is the way belly dancing should be. It is about the joy of dancing.

I am sure that women dance for and with each other more happily than for an audience, or at least most of us do. At its best belly dancing is a conversation with the body, and the best performers connect with the audience in that way.

It is a craft, and it is entertaining. But for most of us it is an exercise class that throws women together with movement and laughter.  By the end of that class we did something that I believe in my heart is the true origins of belly dancing; we danced together, a group of gals dancing with each other.

 

Baby Photos for blogger ‘saveeverystep’…

Published January 17, 2012 by megdedwards

Here is a page or two from my baby book for Helen Spicer at

http://saveeverystep.wordpress.com/author/saveeverystep/

Illness onto death, or let’s just not talk about it.

Published January 17, 2012 by megdedwards

Portrait of Phyllis Anderson by Meg Edwards

We happily live in a bubble of health until we are struck down.  It is very hard to live in a constant state of appreciation for your present health without getting maudlin or morbid.

It is probably best not to think about it at all. The people who live best do seem to have a way of pushing death and illness away from their thoughts.

I was sitting at the hairdressers the other day enjoying my splurge. My hairdresser has a way of not only making me look fantastic but feel great too.

And I have been watching; she does this for everyone who walks in the door. She is a miracle worker. I can truly understand why hair stylists don’t get into social media because when they are off work they must long for a less social life.

But my luxury buzz, a cup of green tea and the new Elle magazine handed to me by the delightful Susan as the die sinks into my poor head, was being brought down by the general conversation.

The women were bringing their stories to the chair, and quite a few of them were nasty stories; for example, a friend of someone who had a pain in the elbow that turned out to be cancer and was dead in a few months, another story of a child who went from having pneumonia to palliative care in a few weeks.

With two children on antibiotics at the moment I had a horrible chill when I heard that. The woman telling the story said it made her focus on the happiness of her family.  I understand this reaction but it does not resonate with me. First of all, the point of the epiphany is that shit can happen at any moment. How am I supposed to relax thinking about that!

Illness and death was chilling my innocent giggles over Tabatha Southey and Guy Saddy’s always amusing columns in Elle. People get a little heavy in the cold months.  My theory about life is that I will face each challenge life hands me as bravely as possible, but I will take no unnecessary risks. (I am a Rabbit in Chinese astrology.)

Not for me the bungee jumping that plunges me into an African river. But, if I actually must leap into a river in order to save a child, I will.

A lot of the time I think that I will be brave when the call comes for me to leave this life.  But as I sat in the chair with die sinking into my hair, I realized that I can’t really know. I am pretty sure I will freak out and mourn pretty intensely.  I have a lot of things I want to do and the way I am going, it is going to take me a few more decades to achieve all my dreams – like learn how to dance Samba, finish some dusty stories, play a ukulele in a band, return to India, and maybe even foster children.

I remember thinking about aging when I was young, and picturing a life that was not far off to what I have now.  I thought my husband might be bald, but he isn’t!

But my vision had this very rosy light hearted emotional halo around it that cannot be carried into aging.  I felt light and strong and as if anything was possible, when I was in my twenties and now I carry more weight, figuratively and actually.

I do my best to stay young. I have studied the best role models around me.  I had a good neighbor and friend, Phyllis Anderson (nee Goodwin) who was 100 years old when she finally agreed to move to a home.  Up until that time she crept about her house, put her bed in the study, got meal on wheels and managed just fine.

When I visited her in her house, delivering her mail or bringing her soup she didn’t really like, she was always up for a visit.  She would pull herself out of her armchair where she had passed out while reading the paper or knitting, and make her way to the kitchen. With her back bent over and her hands gnarled with arthritis she would fill the kettle and get ready for a good gab.

I never heard her complain. She once told me, in passing, that she had breast cancer in her sixties and lost one breast. She kept everything in perspective for me. I realized in astonishment that she had spent my entire life being an older woman and widow; the last 40 years of her life made up my entire life.

She had been a nurse in Montreal in the twenties. She had gone to all night parties; she had married late, in her forties, and her husband had not lived much longer. Much of her midlife disappeared into one short line about delivering meals, taking in borders, and being on the Church committee. I have a few of her old journals, she kept them all, and they mostly talk about the weather and what she had achieved that day.

“A fine day, got the laundry on the line. Planted some daffodils and cut lawn. Alice came over for tea”.

Her memories remain in my mind. One time she was being pulled on a sled by her brother and a dog, and the dog took off with her behind it.  When she was about 10 years old she made up her mind to have her long hair cut by the blacksmith into a bob and shocked her family. She got measles one year and lost a year at school and was very annoyed that her friends got ahead of her in their studies.

She went to Fredericton to study in Normal School and became the school teacher at the local one room school house and walked or rode a horse to that school.  Later, she went off to Montreal to study to become a nurse, being called back at one point because her Mom was dying. When her Dad’s second wife became ill later she had to give up on living in her own new house with her husband (the house I live in now) and go live with her parents to care for them.

You can see why I stopped in for coffee at the end of the day. She had a collection of anecdotes that mostly focused on her life as a child and how it always stormed on her father’s birthday in March. And a few stories from Montreal when she lived the high life. I heard the stories over and over, relishing some in particular. When she worked the night shift in Montreal at the Royal Victoria Hospital the nurses would sometimes take their break on a balcony of the hospital. They would pull out a chair and a big blanket, and then just sit and look over the city lights and hear the hum of the city.

She loved company and she seemed to love life. She loved to see my children and would pull out any old cookie she had to feed them.  A visit from a man, whether he was an antique collector, a nephew or my husband to help her with her taxes, always brought out her best and most lively personality.

I have many strong memories of her. Some of my new neighbours implied that I would not have liked her when she was younger as she had a strong Conservative and critical nature. Maybe we would not have got along, I don’t know. But when we met we were friends.  We enjoyed each other’s company.

And to be quite frank, I had more in common with Phyllis than I did with many of the other neighbours who had never left this hamlet. She was an educated and traveled gal.

From a selfish point of view, I liked her because she liked me.  She knew when I was lonely and she knew when I was sad. We would talk and have coffee in the late afternoon, and after a full day of childcare and no friends, I would leave feeling more like myself.

I did cry when she died, and only for myself.  I loved having her there. When she went to the hospital with a sore hip I went to visit her with the kids almost every day. It was a cold bleak spring and I would stop at the Tim Horton’s to get her a small hot chocolate in a ‘roll up the rim’ cup and a buttered bagel.

She lit up when she saw us, and there was nothing more hilarious than her determined strong fingers working that rim. It took about 10 minutes but she would roll the rim! I saw her pleasure in the buttered bagel and the deep chocolate taste.  I have never seen anyone enjoy an afternoon snack more.   I think  it  reminded her of her days as a nurse when she would take the trolley around in the afternoon and offer the patients  tea or hot chocolate and biscuits.

She did not mourn that those days were gone; she did not live in the past. But she did think that the casual outfits of the nurses were very odd. In her day she wore a pristine white dress with starched hat and sleeves. She had one repeated story where she found herself on the back elevator with a bundle of used diapers. An important personage had been invited to use the staff elevator in order to avoid attention and be able to visit his wife. She was mortified because she had folded back her starched sleeves before entering the elevator in order to avoid mussing them with the diapers. So she was puzzled by the present day nurses’ wrinkly pajama style uniforms and the casual look of doctors as well.

When she moved to the local old age home she still fought off the wheel chair. At 101 she had liver cancer and it was, of course, untreatable. I visited her there with my kids and often found her completely absorbed in a game of bowling or bingo. She had a competitive nature and liked to win.  She had been a strong and athletic woman.

The last time I saw her she was lying down, and basically quietly dying.  She tried to sit up and eat a bit of cake, and she dawdled her finger back and forth trying to catch the attention of my baby Maud.  She was still in the present moment. Then she fell asleep. The next time I went to see her they sent the nurse to tell me she had died. Her room was bare. They auctioned everything out of her house.

The house sat empty for a while, and god I wish I had just bought it (I did not have the money but maybe I could have raised it) because the next thing I knew Anglophones from Montreal moved in and cut all the trees down and molested my daughter. I am not kidding about that, it is all true, although presumably the molestation was more important than the tree devastation, but it is just funnier to me to say it that way.

I am laughing because I have a dark sense of humour.  Phyllis would have laughed too, because she knew that what didn’t actually kill you, was just food for conversation.

So, let’s have a tea, and talk about that, have a bit of a gossip, and let’s not talk about illness and dying.

Let’s Go to the Cinema!

Published November 21, 2011 by megdedwards

It was a Sunday afternoon and I could edit my essay on XML in the Library System or take my kids to a matinee at our local film theater, the Vogue Cinema.

I got my priorities settled fairly quickly and grabbed the kids. A half hour on country roads and we are in quiet little Sackville, a town that is very lucky to have its own independently owned film theater.

This month the kids and I have been to a bunch of children’s films, Puss in Boots (very funny) and Johnny English (OK) and yesterday, Happy Feet Two ( cute but the vision of environmental changes in the north can’t help but be a bit depressing).

We are looking forward to the new Tin Tin movie, the Muppet movie and whatever ‘girl flick’ I get to go to with my 19 year old daughter. We don’t go to any other movie theater, preferring to support our locally run cinema.

I also go to the movies with my husband when we get a chance!  Thursday nights have been a traditional night out since we discovered the Sackville Film Society. We have a beer at the local pub, Duckie’s,  and then head to the theater where a line gathers in the road as the crowd makes its way into the theater.

Thursday nights with the Film Society are a great date, the films are always good, picked carefully by a group of volunteers and lead by our very own internationally acclaimed photographer and Mount Allison professor Thaddeus Holownia.

The films are either something I missed and wanted to see, or something I have read about, and wanted to see.

We have seen lots of interesting films there, but I will never forget being introduced to the most wonderful filmmaker ever on the night we watched “Goodbye Solo” by Ramin Baharani. I was a puddle of tears at the end, and I won’t try to explain the film here, but I was crying from a mixture of sadness and joy.

The Vogue is pretty packed on a Thursday night, and sort of like going to a party. Sometimes Holownia introduces the film, or begs the audience to have patience with a film that is still being transported across the marsh during a storm.

The occasional technical problems are all part of the fun; the audience knows it is participating in a lost art and is in a receptive and grateful state of mind.

Sometimes Holownia makes a passionate plea to the college kids, a big part of the winter audience, to encourage their friends to put down their laptops and come out to the ‘happening’ at the Vogue.

We love our local independent theater and prefer to go to it than see a film in any other venue. It is smallish, with old chairs and it is a bit hot in the summer and a bit cool in the winter, depending on the size of the crowd. College kids work in the canteen and the staff and owner are very nice.

The Vogue Cinema is a gem and we are always grateful for its existence, hoping fervently that our own loyalty and the loyalty of other audience members will keep it going.

The owner, Jeff Coates, has also invested in the local Neptune Drive-In, which was about to close, and now runs both.

Coates seems to like what he is doing and has enough support from the community to continue.

The existence of our own independently owned film theater puts Sackville, N.B. on the map; a lot of bigger cities don’t have one!

Cheers to the Vogue Cinema!

Oh, who am I? Whine whine.. same as I ever was…

Published November 16, 2011 by megdedwards

I have a running commentary in my head that constantly criticizes me, as most people do, I guess.

I should fix my hair, not just let it fall wherever it may. I should do stuff to make myself look good. I should iron or wear makeup.  Care more about what I look like.

I have wondered whether it is just that I don’t love myself that much, or have a deep hang up about vanity. I have pondered the question.

In school, arbitrary girls would sometimes tighten my scarf or offer tips on what I should wear. I didn’t mind because it was not done maliciously.

I was shy as a kid, and felt that I was very plain. That was part of it, sure, but I also had a natural feminist perspective. I just wanted to be who I was.  I remember noting, at a very young age, possibly Grade 4, that boys could come to school with dirty hair and still be popular.

In high school they could fart in class and still be popular. I didn’t want to be a boy, or fart in class, but I just wanted to be taken as I was. I was jealous that boys were free of a lot of the social expectations that are always controlling girls.

I have not changed much since childhood. And I do appreciate that my parents were not nags and just let me be. I had a cluttered room as a child, but clean. I had clean straight hair and brown glasses. It took me a while to move from stretchy pants to jeans, I think a girl advised me to get some jeans in grade school. Later, in high school, a running mate told me it was time to shave my legs. I took the advice, it had not occurred to me to do it.

I used to think that my modest and uncelebrated self was symbolic of not being loved enough, or neglected in some way. I wondered, anyway. But in my heart I was glad that my parents had never bothered me about who I was, and just let me be. That is great parenting, in its own way.

I have a very feminine personality, I loved having babies. I am a gentle, fairly passive person, nurturing, introverted, cautious, loving, and sacrificing. But in my heart I feel like a man.  And why is that, because I am strong minded, sure and confrontational if I need to be? Because I love to throw on a pair of jeans and a shirt in order to get dressed, and I resent uncomfortable bras?   Because I don’t care that much about makeup or what my house looks like?

Even at my advanced age I can see that men seem to be less hindered by a need for approval. So, as always, I take my cue from men. I won’t be trapped in the superficial and restrictive social expectations lumped on women.

But even now, when I look around my house, I feel the criticism, loud and clear, from my in laws and from some friends. How can I live with such a cluttered house, is it not detrimental to my health? Don’t I want my house to be clean and uncluttered like a hotel room or their houses?

Well, I am here to try to convince you and myself; I like it just the way it is, just the way I like myself just the way I am. And I am, and have been, consistently exactly like this for my whole life.

I don’t throw a lot of things away because I am sentimental.

I don’t clean all the time because I like to write. I cleaned today though:  the bathroom, the cat box (washed the whole mother), the kitchen floor and some vacuuming, that disturbed the cats. Now my hands are all dry and I don’t feel like doing it anymore.

But here I am arguing with invisible critics, who live in my head. See, I clean, I am a good person! We all want approval in the end.

I do make compromises. If I was unmarried you can bet I would cut off my hair and let it be short and gray. The lesbian look would be mine. But that is too much to ask of my devoted husband, so I have taken to going to a lovely hair stylist, Susan Polley in Sackville at her shop, Touch of Class.

Bit by bit she convinced me to cut my long brown and dramatically greying hair. She does an amazing job, dyeing and shaping it, and it looks surprisingly good, considering how little attention I pay to it.

Susan laughed when I told her that I was pleased to see that my hair looked good, if I occasionally looked at myself in the mirror. I told her that my daughter Rose had said that getting my hair done was the least I could do, as I didn’t indulge much personal vanity.

And Susan, my beloved hair dresser, who is a wonderful person said, ‘Oh, you  have your own style, Meg’. And I just felt like hugging her.  

Wedding Parties, Love and Hypocrisy

Published November 3, 2011 by megdedwards

We were lounging in my daughter’s shared house in Halifax watching that reality show about women choosing their wedding dresses when one of the young college girls turned to me and asked me directly, “Did you cry when you chose your wedding dress”?

I looked to my daughter, is it OK to tell your house mates my story, I asked? Oh yeah, she answered, knowing the tale all too well. Joe and I were married at the old City Hall in Toronto when I was hugely pregnant with Rose, and we had already been together about 8 years. We invited his parents to be witnesses because Joe’s mom had cried when we told her I was pregnant. There was also a financial reward, a tax break of some kind that made the whole deal more attractive to my husband.

The wedding ceremony was quite funny because the man on duty at the time thought he should make an appropriate speech based on the information he saw before him. Joe’s passport states his birth city as Jerusalem so the Justice of the Peace or whatever he was, intoned on the beauty of Canada (not knowing that Joe had been a Canadian since he was 4 years old).

I was obviously pregnant, so he reminded us that marriages take time and we would know each other better in a few years (not knowing that we had already been together for so many years) and finally, when Joe put the ring on my finger (I bought it at a cheap store on Yonge St. just in case we needed one, it was three thin silver coils wrapped together), he said, “Will you Joseph take Mary”?

I guess the mention of Jerusalem and the sight of the pregnant bride made him confused and he suddenly had changed my name from Margaret to Mary, but at this point I guffawed out loud with Joe and it was all over.

We did not have a party, we broke no dishes, we did not cross hands and drink out of glasses or allow people to make stupid speeches. We did not introduce our cultures to each other, god forbid, and we did not make them share a hall and dinner and the outrageous costs of the event. You’d think they would have been relieved. Maybe they were, we don’t really talk about it.

I did not care about not having a wedding; I honestly did not care at all. Very few people believe me but I did not have wedding fantasies when I was a child, and by the time I was 13 all I heard from my mother and sisters was how marriage and weddings were hypocritical and a waste of time.  I never dreamed about wearing the white dress and walking down the aisle, and I think for Joe, who hated his bar mitzvah, the idea of a wedding party was a nightmare.

But most of all, Joe and I were in agreement that we did not want our two families forced together for a ritualistic event. We knew at the time, and now 27 years later I can tell you that we have not been proved wrong, that the prejudice in both of our families would have been evident.  I think we could both hear the snooty comments made behind each other’s backs, from our respective families, and could not see why we would want to host that particular event.

Joe’s family saw my family as the epitome of what was wrong with WASPs, and to be honest we pretty much lived up to the worst of it. In my family and for many generations back you can find insanity, alcohol and/or drug addiction, affairs/divorce, and bad housekeeping and mediocre cooking.   And we think very highly of ourselves, for no apparent reason. We are brought up to be snobs about working people, but don’t necessarily educate ourselves, and we believe in noblesse oblige even though we are generally cheap and broke and should not be looking down our noses at anyone at all.

Both families would have put on their best hats and behaved well if we had had a wedding party, but there was just no need for the charade. Looking back now, I wonder whether my Dad, who was more conventional than my Mom, was disappointed that he never walked one daughter down an aisle.

I enjoy other people’s weddings, though. It is generally a fun celebration with food and drink and dancing, and I partake with enthusiasm. I enjoyed my eldest brother Rhys’ wedding last weekend in which he married the lovely Carmen.

The sermon at the Catholic Church was quite nice, all about love. He even said, Love is forever, sometimes marriages don’t last, but love lasts forever. Some guffawed later at this, but it is true, and in fact he was marrying two older people who had been married before so he was not out of line.

And this philosophy of love as the guiding force of our lives makes sense to me. I am a very spiritual and unmaterialistic person, it is just that I don’t happen to follow any Church or love any one figure that stands in for love.

At the wedding the two families kept fairly separate and I am not sure if anyone made the effort to reach out to the other family. My brother had argued that the tables should be mixed up so people could get to know each other, but his wife had made the good argument that people who had traveled a long distance to see each other would want to sit at each other’s tables.  So we sat with our own people.

By the end of the night the two groups had merged on the dance floor. But when the dance music began to sound somehow more Asian, and the dancers had begun group dances, a lot of the WASPS dropped out.  Not me though, I love to dance, I am a dancing fool. I’m not sure but I think I may come across as Elaine in this area as well, but it does not stop me.

There were dances in which you had to know steps, and I found the older guy who seemed to know and followed him. And there was a dance where someone grandstands in the middle and everyone dances in a circle until the next person drops into the middle.

When I jumped into the middle, and then dragged my two nieces in with me, there was a big cheer. Ah ha! I had broken down the two cultures stand off!  I felt proud knowing that I had helped merge the two cultures for a few minutes. And I danced and danced, celebrating love.

Happy times with my Daughter

Published October 27, 2011 by megdedwards

Treat. Yo. Self.

This was my daughter’s mantra on my weekend visit into Halifax, the city of students.

For us, a brunch out, a day of shopping and a dinner out were the extent of our madness, but was it was great to do whatever we wanted and take all the time we wanted eating and talking.

What could be more fun than spending time with a beloved child who has grown into a magnificent adult?

We even traded roles at one point as she led me through a maze of malls in order to catch our second bus to the destination mall. I needed to pee and I was hot and tired, and started moaning about how we could have just stayed in the North End and looked at the second hand shops.

She wisely paid no attention to me, made a short stop into a chocolate shop where we jammed lots of sweets into our mouths and carried on.  The clerk at the store expressed shock that we did not need a bag for our bonbons, but we were on our giggling way before his comment about the number of treats sunk in.

She got me to Winners, where I did in fact find a dress for the upcoming wedding at the happy price of $29. This was not the only time when I felt like my Mama role of doting benign dictator was floating away.

She had been right about the shopping and I was the whiney kid! And I saw how gradually I will not be the one in control anymore. Just as it is with me and my Mom now, I told myself to just let it happen, and enjoy the blessing of real friendship with a daughter.

She is a marvelous person, such a person.  But she has some odd struggles, such as thinking that Joe and I would ever be disappointed in her for not becoming an academic or the classic hipster kid, lost, angst ridden and pessimistic.

I am not sure why we would want this for here, just so that she could be like us when we were younger? When I talk about my behavior in high school I remind her that my parents had split up and my sister had jumped off a bridge, just for starts, so I was in a different space, and the seventies were undeniably a different time.

I really don’t know any kids her age with as much drive or moral certitude. She is a bright light, and I take no credit for this. When people meet her they see what they want to see, a bright eyed and optimistic young woman in a nice outfit. They assume she comes from a suburban home with pushy parents and has not had many life experiences.

In high school, clean cut, ambitious and hardworking, she edited the school year book and started her career as a freelance writer.   But she would sometimes find herself defending and explaining her life style up to that point, a life history that included moving every few years, no home ownership, travel, home birth, home schooling and non-vaccinating. She didn’t even have antibiotics until she was 16 years old.

She may have thought for a short time that Joe and I would judge her for becoming a business woman, but we have been pretty clear that we admire her abilities and just happen to be bad at it ourselves.

She is now studying business with even more energy and enthusiasm than she applied to journalism for the last five years. Just the thought of my daughter in a position of power makes me happy, because I know that a woman who volunteers to look after children in a North End school every day is going to be a responsible company owner.

A thoughtful democratic feminist who relates to the disenfranchised and yet wants to be actively involved in the ‘real world’, well, good on her!

We only want her to be happy, which is in itself a rather unreasonable expectations considering the regular grind of hormones mixed with real life.

We have always let her decide what she wanted to do. No school, fine. No swimming lessons, fine.  Quite by accident we may have created a driven and ambitious woman with high expectations for life.

But then again, I don’t think we can egotistically blame or credit ourselves for who she has become.

We have done our part in the nurture department, she was the first child and god knows what our peripatetic life and scrambles for money did to her. We had a lot of fun too, parties, travel and excitement.

Her nature as it emerges, speaks of all her grandparents in equal parts; Safta’s enthusiasm for personal challenges, Nana’s interest in fashion, Saba’s cool good manners in all occasions, and Grandpa’s enthusiasm for work.

When I told her about her slacker parent’s time on the beach in Thailand a few decades ago, she surprised me by saying, I couldn’t do that, I‘d have to have something to do.

Those were my Dad’s words!  He would be so proud of her. I know I am.

 

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