Friday, November 13, 2009

The ride 1 (Cleveland)

I remember turning onto the I 80, wow!, what a mixture of fear and excitement. I knew that I should be happy but I also knew that the work was just beginning. I knew that there was so much fear and confusion inside that even a huge change in geography could not possibly make a dent in the pain. If I was lucky, it would give me a chance to feel it and decipher it. I knew that what I was doing was highly questionable in God's eyes. I hoped he would understand. Look, I just have to do this. The open road was nice, my best friends along the road became Recees and Kit Kat. I had never gotten into them before but they sure did relieve some of the anxiety of spending so much time with myself. They were so consistent and reliable, when I had them, I always felt good. I hadn't grown up with them and their unique flavor was compelling. All along the I 80, there are plenty of places to get Kit Kats and Recees. The days were hot.

It was nice to see the country but I can't say that I was present enough to fully enjoy the beautiful changes in land formation. I made the trip and excuse to visit some friends. No, I can't say it was a visit to strengthen a friendship or remind myself of good times, I did not view friendships in that way at that time. It was only to temporarily numb the immense loneliness and confusion I was experiencing. Shmuli, lived in Cleveland. He was an electrician, his life seemed to be rolling along smoothly, he didn't have any guilt about spending his time with Cables and wires instead of Gemaras. I also visited Moishe Solomon. This was one of the strangest and most meaningful encounters I had on the trip. Moishe and I had been friends a long time ago. He had been like an older brother to me. Looking back, his zest for life reminded me of an expression of life I wish I could have. At some point, in his teens, he had suddenly left frumkeit, something I never even dreamt that I might do. We hadn't spoken in many years and I don't even know how I figured out that he was not very far out of my path as I made my way across the country. I don't even know why I thought about reconnecting with him, at a time when for the most part, I was withdrawing from any friends associated with frumkeit. Perhaps, I thought he would understand, and boy could I benefit from some understanding since, even I didn't understand what was going on and why I was doing what I was doing. By this time, Moishe had become frum again, and what I do remember about our time together was my anger at the fact that I needed to run away so far from being a Jew. I saw him, and he seemed happy. I realized, that I will probably end up becoming frum again just like him. If that's the case, why do I have to go? What's the point? I felt that I was in the process of removing myself very far from anything I had known in my frum upbringing while realizing that what I'm doing is probably wrong. This angered me. Why do I need to go so far from something so good and so real and so right? I wish I could just stay and have everything be ok. I was also very touched by something Moishe said. In the morning when he put on Tefilin, he was quite open to me. He said "If you want you could put on Tefilin or not". He seemed to put words, to the ache in my heart that I had no words for. He seemed to understand that I was scared and angry. I had no idea why I hated putting on Tefilin. I also knew that I had liked it. It felt so reassuring to be given the choice. He seemed to understand that, at times it's possible to be quite far from something that is so close to us. It would take me many years to understand this.