I’ve been thinking a lot about schnorrers. For those who didn’t grow up with a shrewd Jewish grandmother, a “schnorrer” is a Yiddish term for a freeloader–a layabout who, no matter how charming, simply doesn’t earn their keep.
Most of us have been schnorrers at some point, have drained others of their resources and good will (emotionally or conversationally, if no other way). Goddess knows I have been. I was raised by someone who wasn’t especially interested in parenting so I learned early to extract from others what I should have been getting at home. It was a habit that lasted far too long. Into my 40s, even. And when I finally began to address these habits, I turned around and started attracting schnorrers to me like flies, perhaps to understand the pain I’d caused.
The evolution from transactional behavior to open-hearted exchange is a really challenging one, especially in a country that espouses a dog-eat-dog individualism that conflates self-possession with selfishness. But I’ve been working with this concept a lot, especially in my intuition practice, where I bent so far backwards to prove I wasn’t a con artist that I did myself great harm in the first year of the pandemic.
This last year has been one of learning better boundaries, no matter how tough it can seem, to build infrastructure that supports everyone. Not offering free guidance because ultimately it’s not free to me and my health. And not expecting loved ones to provide more care than they have to give. It’s about the transition from survival to thrival (yes, I know that’s not really a word) and I’m still learning how networks based on compassion rather than credit can exist, let alone flourish.
All to say that today I drew a new line. In the past I would have felt so defensive that it would’ve translated into anger at the other person. Today I did it lovingly, even if they didn’t experience it that way. I felt compassion for their unconsciousness, compassion for the part of myself that so anxiously needs others to be in agreement with me. All in all I still feel shaky. Isn’t that always the case the first time we exert a muscle?
I was told now things in my life were real. Not bad, not good. Just that I’d evolved past clinging to unsubstantial, unsustainable solutions like they were life rafts. Unavailable lovers; disordered habits; disposable things.
I was reminded that I still had a book I’d written. A child’s testimony I was ready to rewrite from the perspective of the loving parent—
The parent she never had.
The parent I never had.
The parent my parents never had.
I was shown transforming this book into essays, sifting through its materials with the concentrated care you’d show a child.
That I still had a purpose. That in fact I still had a child.
I am crying as I write this.
Getting older isn’t necessarily harder. It’s not necessarily sadder.
But you feel everything more, you hide from it less.
This could very well be the last hamburger I ever eat. Ever since my teen years, even when otherwise a vegan, I’ve had a burger once a month—and you know what time of the month I’m talking about. My menopause dovetailed with the pandemic—nothing like a hormonal shitstorm in an incubation tank—so this is the first burger I’ve needed in months. I celebrated with a whiskey and the premiere of And Just Like That, which leans as hard into the beautiful melancholy of middle age as I do.
I never thought I’d mourn menstruation but over the years I grew grateful for its regulated highs and lows, for a clock and calendar that was my very own. Bidding farewell to my period is bidding farewell to youth, once and for all. And that is proving way harder than I thought, because mortality has never loomed larger. (We’ve all been experiencing that lately.) I send every other middle-aged broad a bite of this burger. We fucking earned it just by sticking around in a world that rarely recognizes how beautiful we are.