*Insert wide eyes and gaping mouth*
Of all the fortuitous… This question nearly knocked me off my barstool. I was completely unable to mutter an intelligible response, but he just kept talking- clearly not needing one… PHEW! I was off the hook. Still, for whatever outward composure I mustered, I didn’t hear another word he said for about five minutes. I was too consumed with the question, and the answer I never got out.
The resounding echo in my head, was “I’M PASSING!” and “HE HAS NO IDEA!”. There may even have been a “WOOO HOOO” in my mind, at some point. All these years, I’d lived my life in the long haired shadow of my parents, convinced, and begrudgingly content in the knowledge that I wore the effects of my upbringing on my sleeve. I imagined it emblazoned across my forehead, and flashing aglow in stinging neon lights…
But he hadn’t even noticed! He actually asked me if I knew anything about healthy eating! I became very quietly excited at this point. Maybe he thinks I’m a fast-food eater! Maybe he thinks that I don’t recycle! The prospect of passing as “normal” seemed so unbelievably far-fetched, that I’d grown up resigned to the fact that everyone just knew somehow that… I am a second-generation pseudo-hippie. A what? A child of pseudo-hippie parents. Organic spawn…
What does that mean, and why should I care, you say? Because I’m not alone in this, and I’m pretty thoroughly convinced that this little pocket of my generation, who can call themselves “pseudo-hippie children” will be a saving grace and vastly important voice of the global issues and modern art forms yet to come. We’re here now. We are teaching your children, designing your structures, and writing the books you read; and we are doing it with an advantage lacking in our predecessors. Pseudo-hippie parents. We are not a generation rebelling from the previous one, we are embracing them, learning from their mistakes and benefiting from their influence.
We are not children of the drugged out hippies of the 1960’s, but rather that of a mellower, second coming of post-Vietnam pseudo-hippie. They had traded Bob Dylan for Cat Stevens, and were too busy surfing to bother with protesting. They were neither a consumer generation, nor major proponents against one. They were a rather quiet people who would fashion themselves into the artisans, entrepreneurs and small business folk of the 1980’s and 90’s. Hardworking- but doing it for themselves, their families, and for the free time it afforded them. They taught us to recycle, eat organic, and “leave only footprints”. These pseudo-hippie parents cultivated in us an appreciation for artwork, music on vinyl, travel, and vintage treasures.
I would by no means, characterize myself as a hippie, in the stereotypical sense- or any other, but if I could step back from myself for a moment and take a truly objective stance, the term “pseudo-hippie” (dread-locked connotations and B.O. aside) would apply rather aptly to my life. My parents? Okay, they were tipping a little closer to our society’s definition of “hippie”. They burned incense, and the occasional joint well into their 20’s. They belonged to a food co-op, and relied upon Chinese herbal medicines for everything from aches and pains, to the Ebola virus. They made a comfortable living, but didn’t live to earn. Specifically, they prioritized in a very influential way. For example, it was common practice in our home to buy and restore well-made, but weathered furniture from thrift stores, but splurge on $1,200 sheets. Their eccentricities ranged from artsy to expert, to odd… Rare orchids were carefully hand-cultivated in the kitchen terrarium. Wood plank floors were beat-up with heavy chains to achieve a rustic, “lived in” look. The structural beams in our home were salvaged from a historic bridge. And though they both painted, an artist was commissioned to do a mural up the staircase. Dog food was made from scratch, and largely vegetarian. My mother sat in box seats at the Honolulu Opera House wearing vintage couture and restored jewels she’d found in estate sales.
Of the latter, I take enormous pride in this fact about her, and I know that this relaxed attitude toward luxury, and the collision of classes was an amazing gift to have passed on. My mom encouraged me to experiment with making my own clothing in high school, which actually made it possible to go without wanting to kill myself. She collected well-preserved cocktail dresses from the 1940’s and let me wear one to prom. She actually grew organic veggies in a garden behind our kitchen to make my baby food! Extremism in its sweetest form…
But admittedly, with parents like this, it’s not always a walk in the park… Case in point, my dad...
He’s been rebelling against the buzz-cut of his childhood, since high school. And I’m pretty sure that this hair issue was a catalyst in his moving out at 17. My dad is a ponytail man. It’s hard for me to admit that. Teenage flashbacks of Kira Sedgwick in “Singles” and her “Mr. Sensitive Ponytail Man” come clouding back and I’m reminded of my admittedly unfair prejudice against such tress-offending men. I’m slowly learning to deal with and accept this fact about my father, but it’s been a long, hard road to tolerance… And not unlike the secret hopes and dreams of children from broken homes, a part of me quietly dares to hope that one-day he’ll part ways with the tail and revert to the 1950’s buzz-cut my grandmother was so fond of forcing upon him. Couldn’t that be the mid-life crisis cut? The reclaiming of his youth? Why does it have to be the shaggy San Diego surf-rat hair of his teens? I say; if you’re clinging to your youth, go all the way! Take it up ten notches and go for broke! Go for your boyhood-at-the-barber-buzz-cut!
Yeah, clearly, I’ve got issues; but unless your dad is rocking hair longer than his adult daughter’s, don’t judge me. Though, for all the shameful hair-intolerance, and hideous alternative “cures” forced upon me, I have to hand it to them… They managed to curb mass influence, while instilling something invaluable in me- an open mind and an outside awareness lacking in so many people. Because of them, “healthy eating” was a non-issue, because there was never an alternative to it, and I’ve kept that with me (albeit with the occasional midnight organic milk and cookie binge). Art and literature appreciation was a way of life, and a respectful commentary on the world around me was as much a part of growing up as grass-stained knees and sunburns.
I’m slowly learning to take pride in this and see it as an advantage I’ve had in my life. So what if my lunch boxes were full of sprouts, carob bars, and cashew butter and jelly sandwiches? Who cares if chocolate milk was made with soy and prom dresses had been worn before? I can’t imagine having grown up in any other way, in any other home. They were thinking ahead and preparing me for a long and healthy life. And though I’ll choose not to make my own pet food, or marry a be-tailed man, I’m grateful for the experience.
And yes, I know a thing or two about eating healthy.