Mid-Life Crisis

I turn 40 in March. I’ve been calling myself 40 for several months already [much to the chagrin of JFB, and usually earning me a lecture]. Lately, I’ve had a lot of emotional turmoil and a little self-exploration. I’ve repeatedly told my friends that I may come out the other side of this a different person. Boy, I had no idea.  So, since Carl Jung [originator of the term] defined mid-life crisis as a life-changing internal exploration, mine is apparently here.

And it’s safe to say that I’m a little disappointed there’s no sports car involved. I really was hoping for a 1967 Cobra AC in midnight blue with a black interior… for example.

No. Instead of a sports car, I get a whole new lineage. Well, not all new, but enough changes to throw me for a loop. My Heinz 57 member card was revoked, and not even replaced with a Mrs Dash 20. Nope, I was knocked right down to 7. Which, in context of thinking I was a bazillion different nationalities, basically means purebred in my mind!

So what started this? The damn gypsy* thing.

I was thinking about it and researching it, and realized after Nick’s comment that I wasn’t sure which gypsy sect, culture, clan, tribe, whatever I belonged to. So I called the aunt that did the ancestry search. It was a helluva conversation. Interesting and funny, and a little life altering. I learned that I had a great-great-grandma with ‘second sight’ and a great-great-grandfather that was exiled—not from a village, but from the entire country! Colorful history is fun. However, we weren’t from Romania [cross that one off], and we weren’t from Italy [pretty lie told because it was better to be from Italy than to be a Gypsy—cross that one off]. We were what the French supposedly named the bohemian lifestyle after, pure Bohemian Gypsy.

According to Wikipedia, the French called anyone from the low-rent areas bohemian because they believed that gypsies came from Bohemia. Also according to the-ever-popular-but-often-wrong Wikipedia, this was a false belief—as the global encyclopedia claims gypsies never came from Bohemia. Um, according to my ancestry, there’s nothing false about it. Gypsy records are bad, and by bad I mean anything from flat out wrong to non-existent, so we don’t know where they were before Bohemia, but they were definitely there, for a very long time, and came here from there, thus becoming the supposedly nonexistent Bohemian Gypsy. Which is redundant if you think about the way the terms are used now.

Wanting to share the colorful new information, I called my mother. Getting into the fun of family exploration, she delved into her baby book and the family records in her possession. At the beginning of the conversation she rambled off the nationalities I have from her side of the family. At the end of the conversation I asked her where the heck the Irish was.

There was silence on the other end of the phone.

She’d been told she had Irish on both sides of her family, yet the two of us went through several generations across Europe and there wasn’t a speck of Irish to be found. I may have been wrong about lineage for 40 years, but she’s been misinformed for longer. Yah, she gets to share my mid-life crisis.  This past weekend, Nana swore that she’d been told, and therefore believed, that great-great-grandma so-and-so was 1/2 English and 1/2 Irish… Funny, Mom and I didn’t find any English in that searching either. Poor Nana, she was lied to as well!

So apologies to everyone I ever told I was Italian. I’m so not. Not even a drop. That Mediterranean pigment [that I affectionately call green when my tan is faded] is pure Bohunk*. [A term, I learned today, was used by several grandparents on both sides!]  I’m not Italian. I’m not Irish [or English, sorry Nana]. I’m not Romanian. I’m not a whole bunch of things I thought I was.

And I don’t have a sports car.

[*I understand that to some the terms gypsy and/or bohunk are derogatory, negative, or otherwise taboo. I don’t use them that way. I don’t mean any disrespect. And I think we’ve come far enough that I shouldn’t have had to put a disclaimer…]

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