that my previously solid spot as "favorite" in the family may be in jeopardy.
I am the baby of the family...the youngest by six years. They doted on me...when they weren't busy hog-tying me or convincing me to climb into badger holes. We spent our formative years in a cabin in the woods near a very small mountain town in central Idaho. Where the highlight of the year was the annual Logging Festival. Where for fun, men (and women!) threw axes at beer cans lodged in tree stumps. Then, when I was 9, we moved to the BIG CITY. Boise. By then, my much older siblings were pretty much already formed, as hillbillies. (What?! They admit it!) When we moved to Boise, I became friends with kids who had gay siblings, kids whose parents worked for Public Radio, kids who's parents drove Porsches and had dinner parties where they listened to the Beatles and smoked pot and discussed politics in front of us. Needless to say, I soaked it all up like a sponge. By the time I reached high-school, I was definitely marching to the beat of my own drummer: to my mother's horror, I shopped at thrift stores. I wore moth-eaten Beaver Cleaver-inspired sweaters to our high-school keggers. I got a Vespa Scooter and rode around town in vintage dresses. I bought Birkenstocks back when you had to special order them from the local vitamin store because they were considered "orthopedic" or something. I listened to moody British punk. My mom allowed me to skip school with a group of friends to go protest Jerry Falwell when his "Moral Majority" tour came to Boise. My family didn't know quite what to make of me, but what the hell, I amused them.
Then, in my twenties, I became different. I wore make-up, bought ridiculously expensive shoes, worked at a very snooty boutique and thought I'd marry a lawyer and belong to a country club. Then I went to art school and I met a gorgeous hippie boy. Definitely not my type. So I married him. He was VERY moody, always unhappy. I thought it must be me. So I got less opinionated. I tried to stay under the radar, so to speak. I wore almost exclusively black clothing. I tried to disappear. I was so busy trying to make him happy, that I forgot who I was.
Then as I neared 40, I had something of a mid-life crisis. Only it is more truthful to say that I rediscovered who I am. I got divorced. I started to pay attention to politics again and got PISSED. I also came to the realization that while I'd always questioned the idea of God and the Bible, I'd in fact become a true non-believer. Furthermore, due to circumstances in our family, we've spent the past 25 years or so being VERY careful with one another's feelings. Careful not to say anything the others might not agree with. Careful not to speak the truth.
But as I mature, as I find my feet, I've found my voice. And now I refuse to keep quiet. I speak out to my family (and anyone else who will listen) about my political beliefs, my religious beliefs, and when someone is hurting me or someone else that I love, I refuse to ignore it. I want only authentic relationships. I want my family members to love each other, differences and all. And so, to them, I've become the "rabble rouser", the trouble-maker, the one who pushes buttons. What they forget is that is who I've ALWAYS been. I just forgot for awhile.
Hopefully they'll love me anyway. Hopefully I still amuse them. I love them, even if they are hillbillies. : )