Though it might be slightly repetitive to type this, I feel it is only appropriate to begin this entry by stating I was a special snowflake, even as a child, and it manifested itself in the oddest of ways. Whether I was playing “Statue Man” with my father– a game in which the person who can sit still the longest wins– or telling everyone and their grandmother that I aspired to be a senator from New York, I was the quintessential definition of peculiar.
After spending graduation dinner with my grandmother, though, I was reminded of one particular peculiarity from my youth: my propensity to give free foot massages. Whenever I would visit my grandmother, I would immediately offer her said service. As anyone woman who has gone through childbirth would tell you, the only correct response is “Hell yes.”
And so I would spend the next hour or two meticulously massaging her feet. Despite the callouses, bruises, and other signs of wear and tear, my grandmother’s feet were not aversive to me. I enjoyed conditioning them back to life. Even as my own hands began to sore, I persisted through the pain– determined to show some sort of appreciation to the woman who birthed my father and by proxy, me.
While a normal seven year old girl might have drawn a less than attractive “thank you” card for the front of her grandma’s refrigerator, I had to get down on my hands and knees and massage my gratitude into her weathered feet. And while my grandmother was highly appreciative, she would always end her personal massage session with the words, “I’d love you even if you didn’t give me this simple pleasure.”
After one such session, I responded to her comment in a most unusual way. “Would you love me if I were a balloon bouncing through the streets of New York?” As any blood relative feels obliged to do, my grandmother nodded politely.
But as any woman with an ounce of urban acumen will say, she then questioned the absurdity of my querry. I stated– and I should note this is before I resigned myself to a career in politics– that I aspired to be a balloon with I grew up. Balloons, once released into the air, are the epitome of free floating objects. They have no obligations; no weights holding them back from the blue skies; no guilt about shooting for the stars.
I wanted to be that free someday– to act and move as gracefully as a colored balloon, and to be content with where I was in any particular moment. I, as my grandmother noted, feared commitment or attachment. I never wanted to feel restrained or constrained by a person or a place. I aspired to be a rolling stoner.
When my mother subsequently mentioned her potential birthday present to me last night– a paid membership to a Jewish dating website– I had my usual rolling stoner panic attack. I’m too young to be looking for a husband; I have mountains, likely in countries oceans away, that I must climb first. And yet, despite my viscerally frustrated response, I knew my mother had deliberately planted a seed– a seed, in which she finally becomes a grandmother and I begin making payments on my future brownstone.
While I have yet to accept or deny her offer, I was reminded this morning why the rolling stone lifestyle is just so attractive:
I may have to modify my seven year old aspiration. Instead of seeking to be a balloon, I might just settle for a colorful bouncing ball in San Francisco.