I spent this Christmas in the Inland Empire. I’ve spent a lot of time there, because Chris’s mom lives in Upland. Most of the time I’ve spent there, the entertainment options have pretty much been going to malls.
But isn’t that what L.A. is supposed to be about? Not the best feature in my opinion, but when in Rome…
In the spirit of the season, on the 26th, I woke up early and bought a paper so we could scope the ads and see what was on sale. I knew we would go shopping because Chris’s family tradition is to return most of the presents recieved the day before.
But I saw the Book Review section, so I had to look. On the last page there was a review: Bohemian Manifesto by Laren Stover. The reviewer tells us, “She wore a ‘yellow thrift-ship hat and a fuchsia jacket I found in a trash can on Christopher Street” to her first job interview.”
It goes on,” ‘Bohmians…create new work and change paradigms.’ When Starbucks and the Gap move into the neighborhood, ‘Bohemians move out.'”
Oh, yeah. Thrift store shopping and treasures from the trash. That’s my background. I write a lot about growing up in Alaska, because Alaska is so weird. But the truth is, we were wierd even for Alaskans. It finally clicked for me. That’s why this guy at work jokes about me being engulfed in clouds of Patchouli (a scent I enjoy, but do not own). It’s the idea of patchouli that surrounds my way of life. Mom and Dad were definitely Bohemians.
I talked this over with Chris. He said, “What does Bohemian mean anyway?”
It’s a way of life. It’s being dedicated to the meaning of things, of ideas as more important than the moment. That the idea, of art, of social activism, or something, is more important than living the life of a philistine.
In fact, avoiding the life of the cushy bourgeouis philistine type of life is quite possibly the idea that a boho is trying to follow. Being open-minded and ready for new experiences that life has to offer…That’s basic bohemianism.
Chris; “What’s wrong with a middle class life?”
Me; “Chris, I’ve told you this before. It’s exactly that kind of question that almost make me leave you when we were first getting to know each other.”
Chris walked into my life, with his wonderbread dedication to name brand foods-it must be Coke, it must be Nabisco, it must be Kraft, or it is unacceptable.
He loves Disney.
He loves beef.
He will not eat at a Thai food restaurant, an Indian restaurant or any other type of ethnic food. When we eat out, it’s three choices: Italian, Mexican, or American cuisine.
All of which are basically American foods.
He wanted to go to Hawaii, not Europe.
These are against the grain of my bohemian lifestyle, my upbringing. My father and I used to peruse the foreign food section at the grocery store, marvelling at all the interesting foods and languages written on the packages.
I have never aspired to go to Hawaii. Hawaii is not old enough.
“Don’t you want to see architecture and art and history in Europe? I’ve never wanted to go to Hawaii.”
He answered: “But it’s pretty. You will like the flowers.”
And you know what? he was right. It was pretty.
But having to buy BRAND NAMES for him still rubs me the wrong way. Corporate clones! I don’t want to have anything to do with that!
It was a huge struggle. I seriously considered that we might have nothing in common. If our very philosophical basis was opposed, then we were doomed.
He challenged me: “Why are we so different?”
Saying that he liked Kraft and Nabisco seemed not enough of a reason.
I wrestled. Would I be giving up my ideals to be with this man? What kind of open minded student of life would I be if I were tied to bourgeous boychik?
My ideals. I had to be open minded.
And that was the point. I had to be open-minded. Was I really living my philosophy if I was judging Chris based on outward appearances and not on his heart?
Chris liked Coke because much of his grandmother’s retirement fund was Coke stock. He always thought of his grandfather and his grandmother when he bought the 24-pack of Coke.
And he loves his family, and he loves me. He doesn’t worry so much about my philosophy (which is admittedly a little vague), he is deeply concerned with whether or not I am happy.
True, he does not enjoy my open mike poetry readings. He doesn’t want to go to the parties with my artsy friends. But he meets me when I come back with a kiss, and often makes me a cup of tea while I tell him all about it.
No, he is not open-minded about trying the new sushi bar. But he was more open-minded about my hippy-dippy ways than I was being about his white-bread background.
And, as it happens, he makes me very happy. So…Different cultures, even when they live next door to each other, have things to teach one another.