While I sat in synagogue during Shabbat services last week, a waterfall of tears distracted me from prayer. That’s okay. I didn’t go there to pray. I went for the challah. And for one last visit to say “goodbye”: a literal "goodbye” to the Rabbi and congregants and a quiet, personal “goodbye” for me. (And then, some more challah.)
Glancing up, I saw myself with the groom. We married on that bimah 3-1/2 years earlier. I wiped the first round of tears to notice how ecstatic I was that day. My smile said “I finally did it, people! I found my happily ever after and, damnit, I deserve it!“ I was so right and so wrong.
On our wedding day, the Rabbi compared me to Alice’s Cheshire Cat, with a smile that crossed my face throughout our courtship. “She hasn’t stopped smiling since they met. I’d see them here at services and wish they paid a little more attention to the service than to each other,“ he joked, proceeding to bless our union.
Now, as I leave the Bay Area, I carry a deep sadness for the fallen love and marriage. Though it ended years ago, this impending move is somehow marking the divorce a sharp reality. Feelings of loss are prominently weighing on me.
Fortunately, loss and gain are on the same spectrum. So, while it’s a tough departure, it’s a good one. I get to start over in a field I only dreamt about entering. I’m smiling again. In fact, I feel as though I’ve just begun to find my happily ever after.
Last month, Nora asked about my decision to leave the Bay Area. I had initially told her I wouldn’t relocate. While walking back to the lodge after our first conversation, as I explained to Nora, I had a little talk with myself. It went like this:
“You’re being silly,” I said to me. “You CAN leave. Nobody’s keeping you there.”
“But you’ll never meet a man if you leave the Bay Area,” I retorted to me.
“Look, me,” I then told me, ”What are you going to do? Stay there in celibacy and turn down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity because of some man who you haven’t already met or dated after nearly 20 years in the Bay Area but who you’ll suddenly meet and fall in love with, and life will be outrageously glorious, so glorious that it’s worth bypassing this chance to work for Nora Profit in Paradise? Don’t you think that’s stupid?”
“Yes, me, you’re right.” I said to me. “You’re being stupid and so am I. Nothing personal.”
After relaying this discourse to Nora, she summarized perfectly: “It’s about thinking outside of the box.”
1 Challah = braided bread traditionally eaten by Jews on Shabbat and other holidays. P.S. The soft inside is most yummy.
2 Bimah = the elevated area or platform in a Jewish synagogue.