Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Place

This post will come across as a lot less whiney and pathetic if read in context. I recommend reading this and possibly also this or this before you read this.
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Last Friday, I went to an al ha'aish (barbeque) with my team from work. With the exception of myself and one other guy, everyone was there with his or her spouse or significant other. One couple brought along their two year old son. With the exception of our hosts, who are in their 60's, I was the oldest one there. I was also, incidentally, the worst dressed.

Clearly, this was a recipe for the dinner from hell with a nightcap of serious depression. However, to my great surprise, it was perfectly fine. I had a lovely time chatting with my co-workers. The food was excellent. The music was kept at level friendly to the hearing impaired. And somehow, by some freakish miracle, none of the couples were prone to excessive PDA's (the presence of our boss may have had something to do with that). I really enjoyed myself. Shocking!

My favorite part of the meal was the location My boss's parents live out in the country, and they invited us to hold our dinner in the garden of their home. As a result, in addition to being able to enjoy perfect weather and exquisite surroundings, we were treated to a particularly Israeli phenomenon. Unlike the States, where work events are work events, in Israel the lines get blurred. Accordingly, every so often the dinner party would swell to include this or that sibling, friend or neighbor who had heard that my boss was in for the evening and had decided to take advantage of the opportunity to pop over to say hello. The entire scene was so quintessentially Israeli that it took my breath away. I watched as these random people came and went and I thought to myself: this is the Israel I wanted.

This is the Israel I wanted. The small Israel—where families stay close because you really cannot move that far away. The small Israel—where the friends you have at 60 are the ones you had in elementary school or the army. The small, close, deep rooted Israel. Where people know who they are, and where they belong. The Israel where everyone knows each other, and where everyone is connected.

I have yet to really find this Israel. I am not connected. I flit. I exist on the surface and on the edges. I am not pinned down by anyone or anything.

This is the life I wanted: to be pinned down. To never have to seriously consider what I am doing for Pesach or the Hagim. To be in a position where I can finally say that, after seventeen years during which every single Pesach Seder has been celebrated at a different location and often with strangers—that all future Seders would be mine, in my place.

Of course, when I tell people this, they simply do not understand. "Well then, have your own Seder!" "Build a community with other singles!" I seriously wonder if people who make those types of comments have actually ever thought about what the hell they are saying. I mean, how, exactly, does one build a community out of people who are all desperately trying to leave it? Out of people who see it as a place to hang out until the day the Mr. or Ms. Right arrives and real life begins? That is not a community. That is a halfway house.

That is not what I am looking for. I want a home.

This year, after years of threatening to do so, I finally said: enough. I am not attending a Seder. My house will be cleaned in the traditionally fanatical and insane manner. As tradition demands, I will throw away all of my hametz and quite a few things that are actually not hametz, on the suspicion that they might have, at some point, been in the close proximity of hametz, and absorbed hametz vibes. My cabinets will be taped closed and every surface in my kitchen will be covered with aluminum foil. For a week I will live on matzah, eggs, salad and tuna. Pesach will be in full effect. It will just be Seder-free.

This is not a request for an invitation. I do not want yet another person's Seder. I want my own Seder, with my own people, people who will be there with me next year. And if G-d does not like it, well, Saturday was my bombing anniversary. He can always strike me down.

Or perhaps, for once, finally, it could be my turn, and He could lift me up…and put me in my place.
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Okay, the next post will be something a bit different (and far less introspective) in honor of Pesach, and then we will return to the regularly scheduled bombing. I will try to focus on funny stuff for a bit….



24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Gila, having a spouse does not end the Seder stress. Do you go to your relatives? Do you go to his relatives? Will either family ever forgive you if you stay home and have a seder the way you want to have a seder? If you have a strict enough seder for his brother to attend, your brother will not attend. If you wait until it is actually Pesach, the children will be tired and his mother will go on and on about missing the point of the holiday...

I do not mean to minimize the pain of not having a family of your own--I just want to point out that having a spouse does not means that you suddenly become completely and totally part of a world where all the pieces fit and Seders are not stressful.

Elizabeth

Ahuva said...

*hugs*

I wish I could say something cheerful, but I'm fresh out of cheer tonight. You know, sometimes I'm really glad that I never grew up with the traditional family seder. I can't really imagine what it would be like to have one of my own.

Baila said...

Sigh. I wish it was different for you. With all my heart.

Gila said...

For the sake of the sanity and the temper of all of the singles who might stumble across this comment section, please allow me to point out that we are all aware that:

1) It is better to be alone than to be in an abusive relationship.

2) It is better to be alone than to have horrible, disrespectful children that eat your chocolate, get bad grades and abuse drugs.

3) It is better to be alone than to marry a spineless wimp who allows his evil, controlling witch of a mother to interfere with everything.

4) It is better to be alone than to marry someone whose siblings suddenly become 1) fanatic born-again Christians, 2)fanatic Baalei Tshuvah or 3) fanatic vegans...and whose lives will not be complete until they cure you of your blindless and show you the light.

We get it. We really do!

As a general note to all those who tend to trot out those lines on a regular basis, I believe that I speak for all singles when I say that we express our deepest, most sincere condolences that your married life is so incredibly hellish. We truly feel for you.

If you would like, I am sure that some of the more religious singles would be happy to include all of you in their prayers--you know, that G-d rescue you from this dreadful state and allow you to return to the myriad joys of single, unattached life.

Mia said...

You know, these last posts make me think of my father. My father grew up as a single child with his mother and grandmother, in the US. For years my father was that guy with almost no family people invited for the holidays. Then he married my mother who has a nice "Israeli family" in Israel, but we lived in the US. We usually had Seders for four and sometimes my Grandmother would also come. (It was a 2 hour flight to us, but she came to visit about once a year and I think we visited her once a year also.)
Then when we came to Israel, and for the first couple of years we were invited to relatives. Then, one year, my father decided, like you said, he wants to have his own Seders. He's not going to be the guest any more. Whoever wants to come is invited. We usually have a lone soldier or student over. You're invited too if you want to come, even though you said no invitations.
So my father went from be the person who needs to be invited to the host of about 20 people Seders.
So Gila, Be'ezrat Hashem Nest year you shall have a Seder for two, and then for three… and keep going from there.

tafka pp said...

That declaration takes some ovaries, honey! Go girl. Hope you have a fun evening while I'm getting emotional and physical indigestion.

kleine Maus said...

Or perhaps, for once, finally, it could be my turn, and he could lift me up .... and put me up in my place.

With an improvement language course in for example Hebrew it must be better to find the stairway and or elevator (except if you do live in a tree house).

MENSCHLICHE NÄHE.

FRÜHER STANDEN SICH DIE MENSCHEN NÄHER.
ES BLIEB IHNEN NICHTS ANDERES ÜBRIG.
DIE SCHUSSWAFFEN TRUGEN NICHT WEIT.

STANISLAUS JERCY LEC

Tzipporah said...

Or the worst thing possible, to have horrible children who eat your chocolate, steal your drugs, and insist on bringing their fanatical vegan Baalei Teshuvah friends to the seder!!

:)

Even though I now usually host at least one seder, my favorite ones are still the ones from my early twenties, spent with friends at their parents' houses, where we could be useful and have a great time but didn't have to plan or be responsible for anything.

Unfortunately, attending Bad Cohen's family's seders are quite as fun... I think I'm going to make them all printed kipport this year that say "Wicked Son."

vedaal said...

"[ I want my own Seder, with my own people, people who will be there with me next year ]"

if there are any of your single friends who feel like you do, and aren't the 'halfway house' variety that you mention, and don't want to go to a family, or a singles-event Seder,

then please consider inviting them (or even one) to your Seder

a Seder completely alone, after 4 cups of wine, can get very depressing,
but shared ranting with a friend, and letting go, and laughing, would be much better


if you do wind up, for whatever reason, having one alone,
please remember to allow Eliyahu HaNavi in
(no matter what he looks like,
even if he pretends to appear as one of your Seder crashing friends)


Wishing You a Wonderful Seder and a Happy Pesach !!!

Gila said...

Mia--thanks, but I am actually looking forward to hibernating at this point. :)

Tafka--we must chat--will give a call.

Maus-yeah, well, I really am that lazy.

Tziporah--wicked son! love it!

Vedaal-Just to clarify--I am not doing a seder by myself. I am not doing a seder at all. I will spend the evening doing something I thoroughly enjoy--writing. :)

RivkA with a capital A said...

Well said! Not whiney at all.

"how...does one build a community out of people who are all desperately trying to leave ... who see it as a place to hang out until the day the Mr. or Ms. Right arrives and real life begins? That is not a community. That is a halfway house."

LOL!!

A "halfway house"...

Gotta love it!

RivkA with a capital A said...

ps. I commented after I read your post, then I read all the other comments... your "for the sake of sanity" comment, could be a post in and of itself!

Jack said...

I will spend the evening doing something I thoroughly enjoy--writing. :)

Ben Zoma said that he who does not participate in the Paschal writing has not fulfilled the mitzah of the machberet.

faith/emuna said...

happy pesach gila!
(im still trying to sort out why you chose to do the hard grudgy gettting rid of chametz deal. as someone born into a modern orthodox type family i never understand why people who pick and choose pick the first stuff i would drop. i would keep the 4 cups of wine and decadent meal and lose the cleaning. )

debka_notion said...

I have completely loved the sedarim that I have made with friends. My family isn't religious- so sedarim at home are a whole can of worms and then some. So- my ideal seder is one I make with some friends (and G-d willing, someday a husband and children- and some friends), and to which my family can come as well. We did it last year, and it was pretty wonderful. Single friends who are Just desperate to get married is lousy- but single friends who are likely to come to your seder with a spouse if a spouse appears maybe aren't so bad?

David said...

See? This just goes to show how stressfull things can be when someone decides to ban beer!

Maybe this is naive but try to celebrate your ability to make the seder a creative, personal experience without having to stick to the script for 20 unappreciative guests who focus more on your matzo balls and table settings than on the birth of the Jewish people.

How about next year we plan a camping trip seder - singles, couples, families. Only requirement is that you can only come if you really want to be there.

Love the blog, btw.

Chag Sameach.

Maryam said...

Hmmm...some of this blog entry is in code for me. May I just say, Gila, that I am hearing you and that I hope that this is the year that he lifts you up, too.

RivkA with a capital A said...

OK, so, now that you had all Pesach to be in your own space and write.... Where is your Pesach Post??

Moadim L'Simcha!!

Anonymous said...

I can only whole-heartedly agree with you that being single and holidays are not a good mix. In fact, it sucks (you said profanity was ok).

Hope you enjoyed your evening and that you are pleased with your decision.

kinzi said...

Thanks to you and Drima, know I know what Pesach is.

My heart lurched a little at your last sentence. Indeed, may he lift you up! I'll ask that for you as I pray.

Heh-heh, good thing you never met my brother (#4 on your comment) you would've been stuck with me for a sis-in-law in my bible-blastin days!

Batya said...

I do understand. Really.

We once had all the kids and lots of guests and then the kids grew up and went away and somehow the guests got invited to others and suddenly we found ourselves alone, ok, two, but alone, since the kids couldn't come. So we invited our selves out.

Yehudit said...

Thank you for your admonition, Gila. I was about to rant again but you expressed the same sentiments in a much nicer way.

My Israeli friend and my Hebrew teacher tell me to get out of NYC and go to Israel for the reasons you wanted to be Israeli. But I have also heard that the cozy small town feeling also means that it's cliquish, and I know the anglo olim tend to hang with each other, and I wonder if Israel is like the fabled culture of new england where 3 generations after your family moves in they are still considered outsiders. Do you think you "skim" because of you or because of them?

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on this one...and Batya, you say you understand, but you don't. Sorry, two isn't just the 1+1. It's infinitely more than that.

Anonymous said...

batya, pls excuse my bluntness but how can you compare being alone with your husband in your own house to being alone? you are so totaly clueless!