Monday, October 27, 2014

Life in Decades

Happy Birthday to me. Celebrating the decades.

1950's the world was pink and purple. My white eye-lit bedroom curtains scared me when the wind moved them in the night. Purple walls framed the room filled with dolls and a little tea set.  Girls were supposed to be good and sweet.  My mother wore dresses, my father had a leather briefcase with his initials DIG, and every night dinner was served.

1960's the world grew fringe. My imagination switched from being a beatnik in black tights and a turtleneck smoking a powdered cigarette to being a long-haired hippie in a fringe suede vest,  waving peace signs. We stopped tucking heads awaiting the BOMB. Instead we watched the nightly news' body counts. War was bad. I didn't understand the difference between North and South Vietnam, but got the message "What if you gave a war and no one showed up." I wore the Jewish star I got for my bat mitzvah. My curls shook on the bimah cause I couldn't read a word of Hebrew--figured out how to memorize not read.


1970's  Drugs and new power were still raging. You could buy a quelude for 75 cents in the halls of the high school. We regularly stood on the Lower Merion High School sidewalk because someone called in a bomb threat. Manicured lawns of suburbia contrasted with the detonation of our systems.  Nixon and trust were purged.   "What do you mean you don't smoke grass?" asked Amy with long dark curly hair and tattered jeans. I wasn't quite fitting in.  Toward the end of the decade, I betrayed the cause of women. I married.
Jay and I stood under the hupah in the same synagogue where I was confirmed. We were powerful and the world was ahead. We'd never make the mistakes of the last generation. I hated seeing couples stand together in silence. "I'll always have something to say," I told Jay.


1980's More betrayal to the revolution. I had children.
 I confess, I have no recollection of the events of the decade other than big hair and big shoulder pads.


 Four children starting in 1980-1990, working and completing two masters degrees left me in a sleep deprived always nursing or pregnant state. On a good day I knew which shoe belonged to which son. "You could eat off of my mother's floor it was so clean," I had said, "You can eat off of mine too," I noted, "there is so much food." Shabbat came into our lives because the boys went to the JCC pre school. Thirty minutes of semi-order once a week.

1990's Again, the world was about to end. Planes were regularly hijacked.  Computers had wormed their way into our lives and there were worms and viruses that would destroy us when the clock turned from 1999 to 2000. Stock up, back up, or else. The night passed quietly while I continued to work hard fulfilling the mantra of the 60's and 70's "hey woman you can have it all." I tried to be wife, mother and work. I dropped and missed yet slogged ahead...one foot in front of the other, no questioning, just do it.  Shabbat family dinner and watching the Simpsons on Sundays marked the rhythm of our lives.

2000-2010 The safe pass on Jan 1, 2000 was returned with the slam of 9/11. The towers went flat, the world went flat and our universe on 24-7 news alert of terrorism, economic crashes and the melting of the ice caps has been trembling ever since. Big mobile phones have been replaced with children to the elderly talking on flip phones. Our children stepped out of what we thought was the "right" suburban circle to nourish them into the world to make it better and different. They wanted to create their own revolutions.

2010-Less talking-more texting. The world is very thin, we watch Bravo bounty yet we want to be thinner and richer.  The bombs are still waiting to fall accompanied by ebola, terrorists, and planes shot from the sky.

My floor is a little cleaner.

My husband I have quiet time. It is ok, I've learned, to have silence. Travel time to remember why and how to love is a great reward for the business of the past decades.

I work a lot. I'm learning to play more.
Our children/grandchildren came for Sundaes on Sunday to celebrate my birthday.

I wake with three things on my lips:
Shema Yisrael-Know before whom I stand
Modah Anee--grateful for the abundance I have
My work-- to help grow whole children in a very broken world

And when I grow up, if the tumultuous decades or two, if the future allows, I want to be a writer and a better wife, mother, friend, sister....

Cousin Ruth called on my birthday, "Remember," she said, "life is what you make it."
Well, yes, Cousin Ruth, I'm trying and I've learned sometimes girls are sweet and good, and sometimes we are bitchy and bad.