Give me one good reason that I have to choose either falafel or Tater Tots. Can’t we all be friends?
When my proper Southern Baptist grandmother acceded to my request and took me to see Hell’s Angels on Wheels at the movie theater when I was a child, I loved sitting in the dark theater with her, my young cousins and a multitude of bikers in black leather. I felt safe and intrigued, and comfort in that dichotomy has become a reality of my life: I enjoy straddling multiple worlds. Maybe it started back there in the movie theater.
Not that I inhabit a biker world today per se. No, it’s broader than that. The straddling concept permeates my preferences, hobbies, leanings, friendships, reading material and – yes – food tastes. Don’t we all feel that way… too complicated to be defined with one label, by one aspect of our multi-faceted lives? Don’t put me in a box; it’s dark and dull in there.
Living in Washington, D.C. where politics reigns, people want to assume we are one of their tribe. Or that we’re not. Friends want to know if they can count on our votes for various things. Am I on the right side? Do I pass the litmus tests? Am I red or blue? Can people size me up? I hope not. I like to keep people guessing. Purple is my new favorite color.
Living in a particular part of town, I sometimes sense that people react to my zip code as if they already know me and what I represent. I’d rather be a collage than a set-in-stone résumé, wouldn’t you? I’m likely to wax poetic about having a downtown heart though I don’t live in the inner city. Where I live just might not be who I am. I appreciate manicured lawns; I also find some graffiti beautiful.
I’m middle-aged but I enjoy Facebook, technology and some music that my peers don’t love (not just obscure alternative bands but Gregorian chants). I can wear a dignified suit when I need to, but I prefer wild prints and black pants, comfort often trumping style.
So diverse are the journals that fit through my mail slot, my mail carrier must wonder if our home is a reality TV experiment in various groups trying to coexist peacefully. And is there a collision in cyberspace when, here in D.C., The Rock and Roll Hotel and The Kennedy Center both fill me in on upcoming events?
Our family has long commingled cultures. We mix teetotaling home schoolers with folks recently out of rehab, grandparents with toddlers, artists with scientists, even Republicans and Democrats. People comment pretty often on “how nice it is to be with a different crowd for a change.”
The diversity in my world and relationships is exemplified by a story about a lunch date with a young, pumps-and-pearls friend who worked at the White House under the most recent Bush. I took her to one of my favorite places, Busboys and Poets, without focusing on the fact that her crowd probably didn’t regularly hang out there. She said, upon my return from the restroom, “I enjoyed perusing the anarchy section of the bookstore.” When I asked her if the atmosphere was a bit subversive for her tastes, she said (admirably, I thought), “There’s nothing I like more than subversiveness… unless it’s anarchy!” Touché
No one likes to be squashed into boxes. SPACIOUS was born out of that knowledge. Oftentimes people just haven’t had enough of a chance to move beyond their boxes, and we want to smash down those walls and create venues for mixing it up.
There’s no particular virtue in eating falafel and Tater Tots off the same plate. But it’s fun and it certainly keeps the purists (on either side) guessing.
And if there’s anything I like more than Tater Tots, it’s subversiveness!
(A version of this post appeared originally in an online magazine, Wrecked for the Ordinary, now on hiatus).