As is often the case, there were plenty of subtle yet recognizable signs that today’s meltdown was coming. I think I knew for sure when I wondered what it would be like to drive off the bridge and into the Mississippi River on my way to Dubuque last Wednesday. If not, Saturday’s epic sadness and anger fest should have been a dead giveaway–depression was driving even though I took the bus. I was defensive, on edge… there had been some tension between Kat and I since I started feeling weird on Wednesday, and I was feeling like she’d be 100% done with me any second. After all, putting up with my shit for 11 years isn’t easy.
But no. It wasn’t about anyone being done but me. And done I was, halfway through my sixth period, in front of 19 students who have been making my life Hell for almost 11 weeks now (before that it wasn’t unbearable). Someone asked if I was going home for the summer and it suddenly struck me that, due to messy reasons that are not mine to disclose, I won’t really have a home to fly to. Sure, the island is always there… but our house will be empty, remote–and with my grandma in NJ for the foreseeable future, her house will feel empty no matter how many people are now living in it. It’s barely half-full with her there, the absence of my grandfather’s loud and large personality sucking out the air of the empty corners.
…and doing just about everything else, too.
Today, after spending a whole week with me, Kat returned home to Indiana. Coming home to an empty-except-for-Kiwicat apartment was weird… but also rather nice. It’s not that I don’t love having Kat over, because I do–especially now that she works weekends and we’re both so busy that we don’t get to see each other otherwise. That said, I must admit–I really like living by myself, to the point that I seem to have forgotten how to live with other people. Continue reading
Whenever anyone asked what I was doing for spring break, my answer came automatically: “Sleeping, not eating grains, playing World of Warcraft, going to Galena.” More often than not, people would fixate on the place I chose to go to. My response was often the same: “it’s a tiny and picturesque historical town just before the Iowa border. Full of museums and nice people. President Grant used to live there.” Inevitably, someone would comment on how it probably felt idyllic but would be very boring after a while. “I don’t know,” I’d murmur. “I’d be fine as long as I had Wi-Fi.”
What usually came next was the justification. “I’m writing a novel set in Galena. I wanted to be somewhere relaxing. My best friend is a total history nerd and she’s never been, so I’m taking her out there.” And, while those are all true, there is one reason that escaped me until I got there: Galena is a short(ish) drive away, and when I am there I am myself. I can be happy. Everything that hurts or weighs too much seems very remote. It’s like, as I climb the hills on curvy roads (which often scare me), I leave behind all of the fried outer layers and it’s Eliava–the fresh-faced, confident, powerful side of me–who arrives.
I already knew it would be special because it would be my first official seder–the one where I could talk about what HaShem did for me in Egypt… the one where I would need no qualifiers when talking about myself because a Jew-by-choice is a Jew. (At least according to rabbinic tradition!) I wasn’t, however, prepared for how emotional it was going to be.
The first moment where emotions ran high was the blessing for children at the beginning of the seder. Even though this was my sixth seder (and fourth year celebrating), I had never actually seen the blessings perfomed–the others had been at Hillel or temple where the parents weren’t present and the family I spent my first seder with was not very traditional, so they’d skipped it. But the G’s, having multiple rabbis in the family with three of them in attendance, did not skip it. My JDad automatically rose, putting his hands on my head. His partner R hesitated, and then they both asked if it was okay for him to bless me too. I nodded, choking on my words, and two pairs of hands cradled my head gently and asked for me to be like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah; for God to bless me and guard me; for God to show me favor and be gracious to me; for God to show me kindness and grant me peace. Absolute peace descended, and I remembered the meaning of my first Hebrew name: “God has willed it.” And so I felt that God had willed it, all of it, so that we were all there at that moment.
…but, mostly, I just want to dance.
Let me back up for a moment.
If you know me, you know that I used to dance. And by that I mean I was in every after-school program I could be in, and I sneaked around to attend every rehearsal and talent show and competition I possibly could… but I never did join a company or try to pursue it very seriously. I was afraid of what would happen if I exposed myself to that much criticism–and I was afraid of wanting something so much. So when I left high school, I put dance on the back burner and only ever turned up the heat at a club or the occasional Zumba class.