Vivid mental Polaroid’s from my childhood have been paying me a visit lately. Growing up in San Francisco in the 70’s and 80’s makes for some colorful memories.
Sisters sunbathing topless on the back deck of our Richmond District home. Floating around in our home-made redwood hot tub with a life-jacket on that my dad required me to wear when he wasn’t ‘on deck’. Parents taking me, their youngest by 13 years, off to Europe to live in a small Mercedes milk delivery truck, which we traversed through numerous countries in over the course of one year. Its interior decorated with my three-year-old art work, a mattress in the back for my parents, a hammock over the front seat at night for me, and a wall with a hole in it separating the two, which I could barely crawl through.
Growing up at the San Francisco Jewish Community Center where my mom worked throughout much of my childhood – the smells of chlorine and baked chicken take me right back to the original building. Tap dance classes in the auditorium with Carol Butler.
Peace marches, folk concerts, and demonstrations. Delicious home-cooked meals by my mom that were my first exposure to really good food. Walking hand-in-hand with my dad to a local dim sum bakery where barely peeking over the counter, I’d pick out a steamed pork bun, and gobble it down on our way back home together.
Even as I’m writing this, more memories are flooding in and I can’t help but compare and contrast the childhood I had, to the childhood Caleb and Sadie are having. As they are growing up just across the Bay from where I was raised, I observe similar themes: close-knit loving family, delicious meals, Jewish community, arts and culture, and parents who want to expose them to as much good in the world as they can. I can’t say I’ve taken the kiddos to a peace march, but have brought them to many an AIDS Walk – a cause that is deeply important to me. I think my “Make Dinner Not War” bumper sticker is a left over from that time and it really reflects my desire to live in a peaceful world, where life revolves around the family table, and a difference is made, one well-cooked meal at a time.
Caleb and Sadie live in a big town, where I lived in a small city. They frequent farmer’s markets and block parties, soccer practice in the park and story time at the library, they go to Purim festivals at the North Berkeley JCC, and they are spoiled on some of the finest food, which is so readily accessible to them. They have a loving Jewish earth momma who blogs about their every delicious bite and food adventure. A doting father who runs them into Tilden Park at every opportunity to be at one with nature, a steam train, a carousel and a steep grassy hill to roll down. They are surround by wonderful family members who respect who they are and what they have to say, and want to expose them to everything from Jewish holidays, to life on a Sonoma farm and pulling eggs from a hen house, to the correct way of ordering a burrito at a Mission District taqueria.
Where am I going with all this? Not sure! I have a stinky head cold and everything feels very circuitous to me at the moment. This is just a rich life they’re exposed to. I would never trade in my childhood memories – they are unique, eccentric, and reflective of the era in which I was raised – but, I rather envy Caleb and Sadie’s.