I was born in Philly.
I spent the first few years of my life there then moved over the bridge to Pennsauken, NJ. Then a lot of stuff happened and my dad died and my mom moved my sister Rachel and I to California to start our lives over. Then a lot of stuff happened and after about 4 years my mom decided she wanted to move back to NJ. Then a lot of stuff happened and when I was 20 my mom and sister moved back to California. I came out a year or so later. The end.
Oh, and my mom dates Neil Diamond after she moves back to California when I am around 21.
A brief history of the Pastiloff family as told by me.
I go back to Philly quite often now and teach at my home studio there: Dhyana Yoga.
It’s a deep connection I have with this city. One filled with sadness and nostalgia and memories both real and made up. One filled with ghosts and places my father visited and streets he stood on corners of.
In South Philly, back in the day, everyone had a nickname. My dad’s was: Mel the Jew.
Yes, you read right.
My uncle, who isn’t really my uncle at all, was Johnny Boy. He is still called that by many.
I walk around the city and imagine Mel the Jew with a cigarette hanging from his lips and wonder what he would think about what I am doing now.
Tonight in L.A., as my whole class laughed at something I said, something corny, a small part of me high-fived my dad in Heaven because he would be so proud. He would be most proud of my sense of humor and my ability to connect with others. He wouldn’t care about much else.
He might care that I married a Jew, which I didn’t.
No harm no foul, right?
Part of my reason for going back to Philly is to stay connected to my father.
This past workshop in Philly at Dhyana was oversold. It was mat to mat to mat.
I really felt like I had come home.
I booked a photo shoot with my talented friend Joe Longo. We drove to Philly from NJ before my workshop and landed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
I used to watch Rocky with my dad. The same dad, Mel the Jew dad who made me memorize each city’s hockey team. The same dad who mooned people at holiday parties.
I stood on the steps of the museum with Joe and I looked out at this city of my father’s and felt a deep ache for him, for all the years I missed with him, for how different I think my life would be. I realized how far I have come as I looked out at at this city with different eyes.
My eyes are the same, come on now.
It’s a metaphor.
I see the world through different eyes now, through a different lens than I used to when I actually lived here. I used to be scared, sad and depressed. I looked down from the steps of the Museum and felt good, I felt happy in my skin and my body and although I missed my dad and what may have been, I felt confident that I was actually where I was meant to be.
A feeling I had never had before.
I did this shoot for my dad.
I wanted to lay in the grass he walked in. I wanted to stand on the sidewalks he knew. The buildings he leaned against I wanted to touch.
Here I am in Philadelphia, the city of my birth, the city of my father (and mother’s) birth.
I have come home.
Does that mean I will stay?
No. It means I can always come back and feel this connection.
Joe immortalized it for me.
There are well over 120 shots so I will just add a few.
We had a blast!
I will be back at Dhyana Yoga in a few months so stay tuned to my blog.