Erica Friedman
2 min readJan 25, 2022


Sitting at dinner.

During the Seder, observing it as an anthropologist might.

What strange rituals these people have, asking questions about reclining at the table, something we could never do, being told to sit with our (my) feet on the floor, not the chair.

Singing songs about goats and drinking wine that no one liked.

This was my culture, that educated me in it ways, and processed me into adulthood with singingchanting a passage of a book that I didn’t care about and was never about me.

I watch that culture from the outside inside it.

At a festival.

Observing the festivities as any other attendee might.

Floats and food and languages from the subcontinent. I am greeted as if I am on display.

You know Ganesh?, I am asked.

I do. He lives with me, presiding over my house.

We eat his favorite foods. We leave offerings for him, and tell him he a beautiful, benevolent god.

I watch that culture from the outside. I am not inside it. It is inside me.

At a shrine.

On a line with thousands of other people for the New Year to pray. The line goes on for blocks.

On the second step, before making their prayer, people turn and say “wow” in their language. I reach the second step, and turn. Unbidden, the word “wow” comes from my lips before I can stop myself. The lines disappears into the distance behind me.

I step forward, bow, make my offering clap my hands, pray.

This is not my culture, but I may be part of it, for today.

In a field.

The sound of bagpipes cut through the crowd noise.

I watch my friend dance. I shop for clothing I would never, will never wear. I eat food that is renowned worldwide for being nearly inedible. It is wonderful.

Not my culture, but anyone can learn to throw logs.

Another field.

The sound of a concertina. Out-of-tune voices rise in the morning gloom. Our feet are sodden through our shoes.

It is May Day morning.

Morris dancers skip through choreographed patterns on the grass. The bells around their calves jangle in a way that cannot surely be considered musical. A maypole rises from the grass, swathed in cheerful ribbons.

I put a cloth over my head and the long stick with a horse’s head on the front end, and begin to dance as if my life depended on it. I follow the teaser’s mirror to my death and rebirth.

This, too, is not my culture, but it, and I, do not care. I am inside it, it is inside me and neither of us are real, but we exist together.



Erica Friedman

Speaker, Writer, Information Pro, geek marketing, LGBTQ manga tastemaker, culture junkie, essayist.