The year 1968 was a time of great change especially for youth. In the prelude to that period, a year before, I met someone who for some time I considered the love of my life. I was only 17 years old and that man who was almost twice my age was my mentor, someone I admired because he taught me to look at the world from different perspectives; a different way of thinking, from psychoanalysis and politics, topics that had been completely indifferent to me until then as well as matters that arose during this period and that were a milestone for me. That “semi-god” however, a short time later, in a very elegant and down to earth way, let me go, resorting to the argument that even though he liked me very much, I had to look for somebody of my own “club”.
I spent many years without knowing who the person I was supposed to find was, because I did not understand the basics: which was the club that really determined my identity. My father was a French Jew born in Paraguay but educated in Switzerland with total ecumenical thinking. My grandmother on my father’s side was not Jewish but Catholic, a Catalonian with a brother who was a priest; my mother was a Swedish Lutheran. As a young woman I was considered very good looking, so I had a very successful career as a model. Later I pursued a career in Sociology, because in those times the intellect was more highly regarded that looks. Even though these two activities were so different I was gifted in both, which added even more confusion to my search for my identity. I was considered stupid because of my looks in one and a nerd in the other. This was no small issue because instead of strengthening me it made me lower my self-esteem in both identities as I did not know where I belonged or who I really was. I had a partner that would later become the father of my 3 children; despite being an intellectual he could not understand how I chose to be a professor instead of a model, which added another disturbance to my doubts. The fact that Jews did not accept me as one of them and laughed at my pseudo Judaism because my mother was catholic and because I did not know their traditions, not even the simplest names of their traditional food brought me even further doubts. Christians could only see my undeniable Jewish last name, so they treated me like a convert, because of my Christian baptisms (yes, I have 2), which embarrassed me.
The first “club” I found was through my relationship with my children, an intimate one. I offered them all the worlds I moved in and I felt embraced and understood by them in all my identities.
Later I was able to find my professional “club” which was legitimized more by my students than my colleagues.
Then, when I was around 50 years old, I was able to create my social network of friends but not a group. It was a network of individuals with common interests and a similar way to look at life, a similar social “club”.
Even though my contact with people has not been difficult because I am cordial by nature, I do not easily fit in. I am simply not easy to fit in. With time I began to discover that this difficulty could also be seen as an advantage, since my differences and contradictions gave me additional information and so I started to comfortably walk through different “clubs”, without feeling that I truly belonged to any of them. It took me a while to notice that the “difference”, the “not fitting in”, could be transformed into an advantage which allowed me to walk through uneven and in some cases totally opposite worlds.
The hardest thing for me was to find a man from my “club”. This occurred, after a lot of effort, misunderstandings, illusions and disappointments and when I had decided to stop searching. I was about to turn 60 and I met the man that accepts me in all my circumstances.
After many years of suffering because I did not fit in any of the easily recognizable definitions of identity, I realized that I did not have to tirelessly search for the “club” where the “semi-god” of my teenage years wanted to imprison me because no matter what “club” I found, it would always be alien to me. And I would always be an alien in it.