To me, knowing who you are is as important as remembering to breathe. Self-discovery is a bit of a winding road. You never know when the curve in will cause you to veer and go off the road. We all experience our fair share of darkness and light. That is almost a given in any life, no matter how ordinary or lavish. It is about creating a delicate balance between the positive and the negative.
When I was a small child, my grandmother took me to see The Elephant Man, a movie about Englishman Joseph Merrick. Joseph was born with severe facial deformities and was exhibited as a human curiosity in the late 1800’s. The depiction of Joseph Merrick shocked me, but not for the reasons it shocked others. For me, the shock was recognition. I knew Joseph Merrick. I was Joseph Merrick.
She said she thinks it’s terrible I don’t want to have children. Like being childless is the Plague or natural disaster. Maybe to her and to many others it is just that. It’s certainly not seen as natural not to want to do the one thing a woman’s body was built for.
It is Friday night in Montréal and Molly and I are walking along the sidewalk in Outremont, a historically Hasidic neighborhood. I am an anthropology student at Concordia University returning from a field assignment to attend a Shabbat dinner at Molly’s home and investigate the gender based boundary building in the Hasidic community.