A few weeks ago while having lunch with Audra & Matt at O’Naturals in Portland, the following conversation ensued:
[Audra and Matt snuggling and sharing food similar to below pic]
A: It’s a good thing Shaun didn’t come to lunch with us
E: Yeah, he’d be horrified by all the PDA
M: Is your brother conservative?
E: Very, he’s the polar opposite of me.
M: Oh, then he’s liberal?
E: [dazed look on face while processing Matt’s inference] …still processing. Hmmm…how did I become the conservative one, especially compared to Shaun? I then tried to step outside of myself and see what Matt was seeing: I looked down at my starched white button down shirt, my black calf-length skirt, mary janes, and no make-up – I was a poster child for the Amish. I took a quick inventory of my life, hmm…married, Christian, professional, 3 kids …all by the same daddy – yup, pretty conservative.
E: Yeah, well I guess if the shoe fits….but Shaun is more conservative than me, just not politically.
M: [look of “whatever”]
How could I have been so caught off guard by this label?
The story actually began nearly forty years ago when my mother gave birth to a beautiful blonde haired bouncing baby boy. “He’s just perfect!” she proclaimed to my father as they cradled him in their arms. Shortly after my brother came along my mom had some health complications, which left her ½ of a kidney. (I’m sure I’m breaching all kinds of HIPAA laws here, but as you will learn, I’m the lawless one). Anyway, the doctors gave my mom some unfortunate news: “no more kids for you, with only a half of a kidney left, it’s not wise for you to carry any more babies”. My mom protested, “We really need to have another one, you see, the one we have is so perfect and so compliant, I’m afraid that we’ll never grow in our parenting skills if we only have this one flawless child”.
So…in an act of defiance, my mom got pregnant with me. Nine months later out I came (breach, of course), a screaming bundle of black hair (and I’m not talking just on my head, it was all over my body). My mom insisted that I was not hers because her son, who had been born just a few years before, was a beautiful blonde angel. The nurse re-checked the tag on my foot, apologized, and handed me back to my mother, who forced a polite smile.
Eventually the black hair fell out and my parents came to recognize me as their own. I grew up in the shadow of an older brother who was tall, handsome (except for the braces years), athletic, smart, polite, charming and most of all, normal. I, on the other hand, was a bit more “quirky”: there were the Madonna years, the hamburger years, the slamming my bedroom door years, the exercise years, the vegetarian years, the years I wore my clothes inside out, the punk rock years, the alcohol experimentation years, the yelling at my mother years, the no pork years, the pronouncing myself an atheist years, the tattoo year, the 3 colleges in 3 years years, the dropping out of college year, the ghetto dating years, the bartending in Key West year, the topless sunbathing year, the 2nd tattoo year, the Buddhist years, the movin’ to Boston year, the nose ring year, the movin’ to Philadelphia year, the million-mom march year, the walking over hot coals year, the meditation-channeling-universal-energy year….and then the year my family found strangest of all: the year I became a Christian.
I suspect the transformation to normal actually started around the time I got married and popped out baby #1. If you’re not careful, I mean, really cognizant of maintaining your composure, then marriage and babies can easily take you over and the next thing you know all of your shirts are stained and you refer to yourself as “mommy” (even to your husband).
The nail in the coffin for me was probably Christianity. Ironically for me, it was my open-mindedness that got me “to believe” in the first place. I was perfectly content being a atheist meditation positive energy person, but in the spirit of “open-mindedness”, I listened to what the Christian doctrine was all about because there is no harm in learning about what others believe. After it became obvious to me that I wasn’t God, I eventually acknowledged the true and living God and parted ways with some of my personal beliefs, which were mostly all “liberal”.
Just to demonstrate my point, let’s take homosexuality for example. I personally don’t care what gay people do, I don’t care if they get married, I don’t care if they hold hands in public, I don’t care if they make out on park benches, or dance to techno-music, or wear argyle socks, I really don’t care. I love gay people. However, according to my Bible, homosexuality is a sin. Therefore I can’t condone something that is a sin in the eyes of our Creator, just like I can’t condone stealing or adultery or hatred or any other sin (my own included). So its not that I’m being closed minded, it’s that I’m deferring to God’s judgment about certain things because I believe that as the Creator of everything, He really knows what's best. I’m not God, so what do I know?
Ironically, when I joined "the mainstream", I realized that the political correctness movement had taken over and although I was now officially “regular”, I wasn’t free to express my new Christian viewpoints without hearing about intolerance or how I was forcing my beliefs on others. I found it far more accepting to be “different” than it is to be “Christian”. Curious, right?
So here I am. I am declaring my normalness, my Christianity, my nuclear-family, and my social conservatism (but we’ll save that for another time).
As for answering Matt’s question about Shaun, I guess I don’t know what to say about him. He’s conservative in so many ways, but then liberal in others I suppose. I maintain that we are very much opposites, probably in the ways he is conservative, I'm liberal (PDA) and in the ways he's liberal, I'm conservative (welfare reform).