Sunday, April 11, 2010

a tale of a Dior Leotard


As I pour myself a glass of Pellegrino too many, and stare at the blank Word page in front of me, I wonder, dimly, if tonight I could possibly write a piece that doesn’t reek of self-righteousness like the last twenty I wrote. Truth is, I understand now, a month bitten into America, I probably ought to have left my spiritually trippiness in a place that actually appreciates it- a candlelit hippie fest in Gan Soccer.

New York doesn’t tolerate floaty behavior. Or dreadlocks. Or dancing to Nachman trance mid-road at midnight, for that matter. New York is like a tall glass of jagged edged cynicism; a harsh florescent glare of scrutiny. Like manners and passivity, floaty-ness is unwelcome here and the last of my spiritual residue is beginning to feel like a fuchsia leotard in a room full of black and white Dior.

Still, lately, I find myself rummaging in my things for that uplifted person I once knew, that girl who sat at late night farbrangens and sang her heart out and made long chasidically laced l’chaims and knew what she was here for.

Now, when I am some thousand miles and a barrage of materialism away, I have to wonder, where did she even come from?

Jerusalem, no doubt.

I had been warned, for years before I went, Israel was the kind of place that made people so crazy, they wanted to change- to be better- and I ate it up. The moment I kissed the ground I knew I had found the mother lode. And throughout the five months I spent there, I drove myself so far over my head in infatuation, up to the point where I’d stop in random places, pinch myself and whisper, “I’m standing in the same spot as Avraham did.”

See, I had waited for so long to be hit by inspiration I let it hit me like a ton of cobblestones. I knew I had to feel different. I knew I had to alter at least some element of my life. Otherwise, what the hell was I doing here, pinching myself numb at the idea that I was standing in a field in Nowhereville, Israel?

So somewhere in between Yaffo and Rachov Chabad, I traded my heels in for flats and altered my LBD- ‘’ ‘little black dress’ into a LBD- ‘longer black dress’ and I slept soundly knowing I was changed.

Thing is, when you’re in a city so unashamedly, unequivocally holy, a land so rich with spirituality; it’s almost palpable, something like covering my knees- no matter how unflattering I believed it was- felt, I don’t know, right. But a country where G-d isn’t apparent or celebrated, is a cruel anticlimax after spending half a year in a place that has streets named for characters from the Bible. Finding that balance between normalcy and what I can only call a spiritual coma, is more challenging than I ever imagined.

I fumble in my knapsack for a while. Desperate for something reminiscent of the feeling I had grown accustomed to. Something that had once felt so natural to me.

I remember this one time I had to give an impromptu introduction at a Shabbat dinner in Nachlaot. I began it with a gush about how blatantly there G-d was in Israel and ended my little speech with “I love…” and I just left that sentence hanging stupidly, like what I loved was self-understood. I miss that kind of thinking so much, it hurts. That kind of thinking led me to believe that because we were all in this incredible place they must know what I was thinking before I said it.

I continue to grope, for something, anything. I want to conclude with a message from the Tanya. But I haven’t learned Tanya since I’ve been back. Perhaps an anecdote from the Parsha. But I haven’t learned that either. So at my last attempt at tying in the mundane things, like doubts and insecurities, with holier things, I try to come up with a nice, homemade metaphorical lesson for life. But no matter how I deep I rummage in my bag, I can’t seem to find one.

Maybe this time doubts will just be doubts and nothing else. There’s something kind of liberating about the time before it all, when you just have questions and the innocent childlike belief that there are a thousand answers.


8 comments:

Feivel ben Mishael said...

Gan Sacher. It has nothing to do with the sport :-P

You should be mashpia on your surroundings instead of letting them be mashpia on you. Of course there is a point in doing the right thing in dark places. Davka very dark places are where light is needed the most, and felt the most. Its easy to be inspired in inspiring places. Thats not the point. "To be near, go far" The Rebbe said. Otherwise he would have had all the Chassidim move to Yerushalayim and lock themselves in Geula/Meah Shearim...

mickey said...

thank you, that is actually very inspiring

lol, it has nothing to do the the sport?? thats hilarious, i always thought since ppl are always playin soccer there...

Feivel ben Mishael said...

Nope lol. I thought that to until I got there for the first time and saw the English sign. So disappointing.

Feivel ben Mishael said...

*too

Feivel ben Mishael said...

whoops one last comment:

Where is Rechov Chabad...
I thought I knew mainstream Jerusalem pretty inside-out...

Feivel ben Mishael said...

waaaaaait.

Old city, near tzemach tzedek?

This almost feels like spam. lol.

nahama said...

welcome back :)

mickey said...

thanks :)