Monday, September 17, 2007

Unstuck in Time

More on Beth getting involved and dealing with 'separation anxiety.' Meaning, adjusting to what I 'left' and what I've 'gotten.'

I've been mulling over my feelings about this matter. What it means to leave a place, what it means to be a newcomer and what it means to trade one set of variable for another. Moving has exposed one truth of life. You give up one thing to get another thing. I gave up my community in Brooklyn for my family here. And I have them - we celebrate birthdays (the wallet is constantly open for gifts), we go on hikes, we plan ski trips (I hope this winter), we talk about family problems, we support each other, we laugh together.

In Bklyn I had one set of constants and they were not perfect but they were mine - the shul drove me crazy (yes, this is true), I missed my family and was lonely, I needed different support systems in my life. There were the good points too, the shul community, the homeschooling community, directing the theater group, friends, neighborhood, subway, Sahadi's (ok, I have the shuk here) short my life of 20 years in Bklyn. My new set of circumstances here continue to improve and develop but that doesn't change the fact that that which kept me moored in life, no longer exists for my everyday life. The shul experience most exposes that here - it's different here. You go to shul, it's not your social life, it's the place where you pray. Yes, you have friends, yes, you invite people for lunch but you have friends who daven elsewhere and maybe you too daven elsewhere so it's not pivotal to your life to make it work.

I've decided that the main issue is that I feel 'unmoored' in terms of synagogue matters. I've gotten used to anonymity this year and had felt more connected in to places slowly. We've invited and been invited a bit...but it's hard. I have barely read Torah anywhere - just Mayanot, too uptight to offer myself up at Shira Hadasha yet. Davened once I think at Mayanot the whole year. Have davened at a whole host of places but feel connected to none really, although I smile at people and can survive kiddush although at times it's tough. I prefer to sit on the side with Akiva as he munches on pretzels and chips. (Actually, did very well at kiddush at Shira Hadasha this past Shabbat, which pleased me as Ira and Natan were with me as well.) None of the shuls calls to me as my home. One aside here - it's interesting how many of my Bklyn compatriots are quite put off by davening in an Orthodox shul when they come to visit. Too me, while it's not a perfect solution (men and women sitting separately), it's not a deal breaker, it's just a readjustment to something that I used to know and do (friends while in school, etc and even in JTS in the old days) but haven't done in a long time. Moreover, I know so many cool Orthodox feminists here, who continually think of how important it is to be an Orthodox feminist and to teach their children accordingly, while the Conservative jewish women I meet, are still thinking through what they do or don't do in shul. Look beyond the mechitza - it's just a barrier and it's what they're used to. Don't let it stand in the way of understanding and t'filah/prayer.

Since 1983, I have felt a particular tug to this place. Actually, I started feeling the pull in 1982/3 when I was here for the year after college (forgetting the brainwashing towards Israel and living here that was a major part of my life). Then, Jonathan and Barbara moved and the rest is history. Tug, tug, tug. It was the line from Maurice Sendak's book, 'Where the wild things are,' that really brought me here - "And Max the king of all the wild things was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all." That messy, unconditional love of parents and sibs. And even if it meant leaving so many dear to me on the other side of the pond.

So, here I am and I discover that now I have to feel a tug to what I left. I feel the tug to the familiar. To the mundane - brownstones and trees changing colors, the grit of Atlantic Ave (it's fast disappearing), the subway, the tall, tall buildings that block out the sky. To the less mundane - my friends, my reputation (I know it's shallow but it's true), my sense of belonging. Recently, 2 women (only women would say this to another woman) made some comment to me that 'I don't work,' and I thought, only someone who knows me for a very short time would actually say that to me - and then I realized, they only know me for a very short time. They know very little of what has driven me for many years, even if I didn't follow a tradional career trajectory that reads easily on a CV.

What to do about all this? Nothing, I realize. Thing about it, talk about it, but not dwell on it too much. Let this 2nd year here unfold, with whatever surprises good and bad will come our way. Maybe we'll find our moorings and fasten the tent posts to some community and maybe we'll continue in this peripatetic way - the 'wandering Jews,' in our homeland but not at home yet.

No comments: