Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Connecting to my Past

Yesterday at work, during an initial visit for a client, we both got very excited when we realized that we had started life on a similar route;  same high school and same college.  Then I asked her for her birthday (for my records) and guess when she was born?  In 1991, the same year that I actually graduated from college. I felt mighty ancient and was hit with the scary realization that I am, in fact, a grown-up.  When the hell did that happen?!

Until Raphaela was born, if you had asked me what part of my life I would gladly repeat, I would have answered my college years, without hesitation.  18 years old, living on my own in a dormitory in the middle of Manhattan rather than under the supervision of my parents in boring Boston, choosing my class schedule and making new friends.  Essentially, figuring out for the first time who I wanted to be, and loving myself inside and out for the first time in my life.

Now that I am a mother to a beautiful, intelligent and stubborn four year old,  I would answer that question differently;  I would not miss a moment of the time I have with my daughter, though the joy and the happiness represent a completely different animal than my loveliest memories from my Barnard College years.

Spurred on by these thoughts, I posted a shout-out to my Columbia/Barnard Facebook friends, and was rewarded beyond expectation:  one of my contacts answered by posting a photo from our Freshperson* year, all of us bright eyed and oh so young, eating in Kosher Kitchen.

(Photo credit:  Cindy Kosowsky Mann, Columbia Class of 1991)

I kept returning to that photo all day in between patients, it was phenomenally distracting and brought so many smiles to my face, I could hardly contain myself.

Later that day at a play date, speaking to the mother of Raphaela's friend while the girls played;  Turns out we went to Eagle Day Camp together, THE Jewish Summer Day Camp for anyone who was anyone living in the Tri-State Megalopolis.  We sang the song of the head of the pool, Chief Takazees, and yes, he did walk around camp with a full complement of Native American feathers in his head;  I can still see myself in that blue and white Eagle Day Camp shirt and blue shorts, and I remember enjoying it from start to finish. 

This morning I received a special delivery from my Great Aunt, the youngest and only sister of my Bubby Z"L:  my aunt Ida sent me a copy of her short stories, a memoir she had written several years ago which includes accounts of my grandmother's difficult childhood spent in British Palestine and later in an orphanage.  At 86 years old, this woman so closely resembles my grandmother, she corresponds with me regularly via email, and seems to be living a fulfilling and active life, pthoo pthoo.  I nearly cried reading about my grandmother and her three siblings, finding it almost impossible to imagine her as a despondent serious child, because that is not the grandmother I knew and loved as a second mother.

Once an acupuncturist friend of mine told me that I could not fly until I had solid roots in the ground of Gaea, and now I understand her more than ever.  After spending two days rediscovering the child in me and learning about my family, I find myself bouncing around the house, smiling with wild abandon, and dreaming of a beautiful future.

* "FreshMAN" is apparently misogynist, and so we called ourselves (in cynicism and mockery of Fascist Feminism) Freshpeople.  Someone on our floor crossed out the word "Women" from the bathroom door, and rewrote it as "Womyn," because G-d Forbid we want to imply that Woman is derived from Man, and therefore secondary in the evolutionary chain.  Seriously.  True Story.

1 comment:

elccollins said...

Just wondering why you & your friend Cindy both decided to leave the safe US for Israel? You both graduated from an Ivy League university and would have had no problem earning a living. Plus, other than paying taxes & obeying the law, the US doesn't ask too much of its citizens. In Israel, everyone is drafted. Just wondering why anyone would choose to live there over the US. Thank you!