transience

I’m on my fourth cup of coffee of today. The first one I drank uneventfully with S around 2.30 p.m.  The second was a small sample from Trader Joe’s, and I spilled the third one seconds after buying it at a market on 86th street.

I’ve been cat-sitting for M and E while they’re away in Oberlin for Sukkot. I’ve made various attempts at wooing this cat, including exacting the love trifecta: cat treats, mackerel, wet food. She is a fickle lady, and I am determined, but I still might fail.

There is nothing quite like Sukkot in Oberlin; for one, you’ve never seen so much potato salad in your life. I have many great memories of laughing dangerously hard inside our delicate plastic shack that insulated us from the world. It’s hard to let something go knowing that it’s painfully unique, that it cannot be replicated anywhere in its pure form.

I’m such a vagrant these days when it comes to Jewish community. I just do not know what I want, or what I need. On Yom Kippur, I sat and read a novel during services. I thought about not going at all, but I think if I hadn’t, I would have eaten, or taken my Saturday back in some way that wasn’t in accordance with the reverence one is supposed to apply to Yom Kippur. On the other hand, I don’t know that I actually care. This back and forth between me and traditional observance is perpetual and uneven. On one hand, it seems important, authentic, like it could lead to something powerful. On the other, I feel like a petulant jerk.

In Judaism, you do the work, and maybe then you reap the spiritual benefit, maybe then you understand. Generally, I do not roll that way, so I end up constantly arguing with myself about the merit of keeping Shabbat and going to shul to interact with liturgy that drives me crazy. The struggle has the potential to be meaningful, I know, and I don’t wish I had been born into a different life (most of the time), where I was raised observant and didn’t question it, but it feels terribly lonely to be struggling, especially now.

There are so many different kinds of Jew I could be, that I’m going to be, but right now, I’m not patient enough to wait for the unfolding. People mimic certainty, belief, and there’s safety in that, and sometimes, often these days, all I want is safety, but this, I can’t muster the stamina to fake it, even if it’s the sincerely hopeful kind of faking.

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One thought on “transience

  1. Kyle says:

    Something’s grating you about the religious nature of being a Jew. You might want to try embracing it. A purposeful lack of Judaism might be refreshing. Blaspheme a little.
    Try [re]reading Red Tent by Anita Diamant. Pay attention to how the women are clearly not frum, but still Jewish and spiritual and moved (and crazy because they’re women).

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