Friday, July 9, 2010

Ulpan Reunion

Today is Friday, July 09, 2010. The time is 8:00 AM. Five hours from now, I am slated to go to a reunion of my Ulpan Etzion class. These are the people who, like me, made aliyah (immigration to Israel) in July 2001 and started off their adventure with the five month Ulpan Etzion Hebrew immersion program complete with residency in the Ulpan Etzion dormitories. Since the program ended and we each left the dormitories, we have scattered all over the country. Recently, one of the group sent out an email. “Hey guys, it has been nine years! Let’s celebrate”. And I, without thinking, immediately responded ‘count me in’.

Or out, as the case may be. Because I am still not sure I am going to show up.

Background. At least back in 2001, the Ulpan Etzion dormitories were limited to single olim (immigrants) between the ages of 20 and 35. Let’s do some math. I am an accountant. We like math, yes? So, let us say you start with a group of single 20-35 year olds. If you add 9 years, you should end up with a bunch of married 29-44 year old parents, correct? And, indeed, that is what happened. Except for in my case. No husband. No kids. Not even any long-term relationships; my dating record is shockingly, laughingly, sparse. Hell—I was supposed to go on a date last night and got stood up. And the only reason I had a date to get stood up on is because I asked the guy out myself.

Truly. Pathetic.

So how can I go? How can I go and see everyone and their spouses and their kids? How can I go and listen to everyone talk about their lives, their homes, their spouses, their children? How can I listen to them talk and compare notes and as they do so, check off the milestones of a life lived in Israel? The trips each one took with his or her spouse before he or she was a spouse. What the children are doing. This one is now in Bnei Akivah; that one starts gan next week; the three year old that corrects the parent’s Hebrew. What they do for the hagim.

This is the life I wanted. This is the life I did not get. This is the life I missed out on.

How can I go and feel myself surrounded by pity mixed with a good dose of contempt. “Well, of course Gila is still single”. Because even if they really and truly are not thinking that—even if it would never occur to anyone to think that—even if everyone is genuinely surprised to find that I am still single, I will know that they are really thinking “yeah, no surprise there”.

Nine years gone. What do I have to show for it? Yes, I have had some success professionally. I am happy about this. However, without trying to discount either my achievements or the hard work that went into them, I strongly doubt that my fellow alumni are clearing tables. At this point, I am guessing that pretty much everyone has found his professional niche.

But, one could argue, I was in a bombing!

Because that, of course, is such an accomplishment.

The time is now 9:00 AM. I still do not know if I am going to the reunion.


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth Gila, I too am without wife or kids ... was married living in the USA (Baltimore) and subsequently divorced - and have returned to South Africa ...

I would urge you to attend - and remenice of our Kvutza (2001)

Doron (Daryl)

Anonymous said...


Gila, your friends are your friends. They want to see YOU, not compare life-checklists. They want to share what is good, commiserate over what is bad, and spend time with you.

I (somewhat to my astonishment) wound up with a well-matching spouse, a couple of kids, the career I wanted. Not all of my friends did. I don't think this means I am less pathetic than my friends--I made some choices and they turned out well. My choices could so easily have been the wrong ones. I got lucky/I was blessed/my good fortune is not due to my character or my hard work.

My friends who do not have husbands or children are still my friends, and I feel I am by and large neglecting them these days because the family and the career keep me so busy. I LIKE seeing my friends who are single. I MISS spending more time with them.

I DO NOT feel one bit of contempt for those who are not currently married!!!!!

If these are your friends, they want to see YOU. Singleness is not an indictment of your character, and your friends don't see it that way!!!

e.e. said...

For what it's worth, I understand you completely. I hate reunions and never attend.
I've been known to avoid people from the past if I can slip by unnoticed.
Whenever I get an invitation of that kind, I politely but promptly decline it.
I hope whatever you decided worked for you.

Tzipporah said...

Gila, I understand where you're coming from, but as a boring old married lady, I find my still-single friends are MUCH more interesting than the married-with-kids ones. Your ulpan comrades may think the same of you. You do, after all, have a BLOG! ;)

Anonymous said...

Gila, you really know how to make me furious.

Just go there or arrange a date with a man you like, do not make your own barricades.

Just go and dive into it.

J.J said...

Anonymous, I don't think you really understand.

They WERE their friends but they have changed, Gila has changed. Or perhaps the problem is that Gila has not changed and they have. I know that is how I would feel if I went to a college reunion. These people are strangers although I am still the same person I was back then.

You are asking Gila to be superhuman here. She is a great wonderful person, but you are asking her to put away all her envy and bitterness. Perhaps ideally she should be able to do that, but I don't think I could. And I think that's just too much to ask from anyone.

Gila, just move on with life. Don't look back. You don't need such stress.

Anonymous said...

Gila, please go! I'm like you in that I sometimes compare myself to my married or in-long-term-relationship friends, and wonder how they got there, and why I didn't (yet), but we really shouldn't do this!

BBJ said...

"This is the life I wanted. This is the life I did not get. This is the life I missed out on."

Oy, this gets me in the gut. For different reasons, but I totally get that feeling.

I don't know what to say, except that you're allowed to be angry and sad that you didn't get what you wanted. As for the reunion, do what feels best. You don't have to. You also don't have to NOT.

And I would say, too, that yes, you have had a REALLY authentic Israeli experience that puts all of theirs to shame, so if you want, rub that in their faces. And then ask about the kids.

Big, big hug. (I'm on an e-hugging kick tonight for some reason.)

Anonymous said...

he stood you up? Some men are just fools