Monday, August 2, 2010
This past weekend, my friend Christine and I went to Morristown, NJ to attend the Ukrainian Orthodox League convention banquet/ball. Having not gone to such an event in 20+ years, I knew what to expect, but was feeling apprehensive about it. After all, I'm older, I STILL haven't lost my "baby weight" and my self-esteem isn't exactly the greatest right now. For many reasons.
Christine convinced me to go and I have to say, I'm soooo glad I went. Yes, I felt self-conscious in my dress and heels, surrounded by thinner, prettier, YOUNGER women. Yes, I wish I had money to spend so I didn't feel like I had to budget every. single. penny. But this weekend was an eye-opener for me. Why?
First off, everyone there that knew me, knew me as Christy Hopkins. There was no Christy Hudson. They knew me as I was when I was much younger. And that helped. A LOT. I really, for the first time in about 12 years, felt like ME. And that, my friends, was worth the price of admission. And then some.
Chris, a parishoner in my church (and a 20-something guy), was talking with my friend Christine. She referred to me for the first time by my maiden name and he said (with surprise) "SHE'S Christy Hopkins? She's LEGEND". I'm positively for sure positive he was joking, but it still made me feel good. Maybe it's an ego thing, but his comment made me really smile on the inside. And besides, it turns out that, after all these years, he has my All Saints Camp hat. It has my name on the underside of the brim. So THAT's where it went... :-D
Second, the polka. Something as simple as hearing an accordion and the 1-2-3 beat just takes me back to my teenage years. Hearing a Ukrainian folk song LIVE makes me all happy inside. I sat at our table and watched everyone dancing (when I wasn't) and had a great time listening and singing along in the language of my grandparents. It's the getting back in touch with my roots, my ethnicity, who I AM, that brought back that spark of life in me that had been hidden for so long. I AM a Ukrainian and nothing makes me happier than hearing a polka, sung in Ukrainian, and eating a plate of halushki and vareneky (pierogies) and drinking vodka.
Third, I need to bond to friends. I need to be Christy Hopkins for a while, instead of mommy or the Assistant Director of Marketing or a daughter or whatever. I need to be ME for just a little while so that I can BE a better mommy or Assistant Director of Marketing or daughter. I need this in order to put things into perspective. I need to talk with another adult that isn't related to me and joke and laugh about something other than Spongebob. To have an ongoing laugh that nobody else would understand, even if I explained it.
I've had awesome evenings out recently with old friends from high school, which have been incredible for me as well. However, for some reason, this weekend AWAY from everything really lit a spark in me that I'm glad to have back. Maybe it was the total immersion in the Ukrainian-ness that made me feel alive again. Like I found that missing piece and glued it back into place.
When I walked through the door on Sunday evening, I was truly happy for the first time in a long time. I was sooo happy to be with the kids and to see their smiling faces and their excited hugs and the million kisses they were so happy to give. But most of all, I was happy to be me again. To have had the opportunity to be Christy Hopkins and to let GO of things for a bit. To let my hair down, dance, laugh, and have maybe one too many Cosmopolitans for a change. So that I can go back to being a better, stronger, happier Christy Hudson.
I think this is going to be a regular thing. Christine and I are already planning on going to Philadelphia for next year's convention. Next time, we'll stay another day and bring more old friends along with us.