The Story of Our Mythological Ex

greek godAt this week’s Shabbat table, surrounded only by close friends, we got to talking about the ‘Mythological Ex’.   What is the mythological Ex? That legendary Ex boyfriend or girlfriend: someone who affected you the most, who changed your path, who “got away”, who you still ponder about, who basically is this larger than life concept in your mind: regardless if you are “over” them or not, they loom large in your memory.

We all had these funny stories, one of my friends had almost been seated next to her mythological ex at a wedding…. with his new wife.  Another friend laughed when he realized that his mythological ex was getting married next week. Again. One friend giggled when she realized that she’d dated another’s mythological ex.  “It could never have worked out”, she laughed, “I knew too much about him”.  We all went around, thinking who were these legendary exes in our lives,  where were they now, but even more than that, who are we the mythological ex to?

My first relationship with David, before  I made Aliyah, was my longest, most intense relationship.  Everyone at the table nodded their heads, that he must be my mythological ex.  After all, they said, when you talk about “you ex” it’s always in reference to David, rather than someone I dated here in Israel.

I resisted.  It’s Ari, I insisted.  It must be.  I think about the pain in comparison, and it must be Ari.  No, everyone repeated, it’s just that Ari’s pain is fresher.

Since that meal, I’ve been thinking about it more and more.   I know for certainty that I am David’s mythological ex.  I was careless with his heart in the end, something I still regret.  For so long, he harbored resentment towards me, anger even.  I’ve spent years, hoping he’ll forgive me, hoping he’ll find happiness that will outshine our love, our happiness, so that he can look back at our time with nostalgia rather than regret.

This morning, I walked down memory lane, reading some of our old emails.  During the last few months of our relationship, my emails are distant.  They mention how I missed calls, refused day trips and was quick and snappy.  I was bitter about being in a relationship that I felt emotionally spent in.  But from his side, there was so much love.  An almost desperate love.  He was reaching out, through all modes of communication, reaching out for me, and for all that love that we used to share.  It was something I couldn’t give him anymore. It took me awhile to accept this, but once I did, it was something that came down hard on him.  A truth he didn’t want to accept, but eventually had to.

Here is an exert from one of our emails, after our breakup, I wrote:

You always did show me love and support, you are such an amazing person.  I never stopped caring about you, I just didn’t know how to properly handle the situation. I really tried to put effort into our relationship after we spoke in April, but I realized more than ever, I want to be with myself right now- and I can’t give you what you need in a relationship- I would just be distant, irritable and non-giving- that wasn’t fair to you. But you know this is better- it’s just really painful. I really just want you to be happy- it’s hard to see now, but I know you will find someone who is better for you than me.

What crap it is to tell someone, after you’ve broken up with them, that they’ll find someone better.  It took me eons of self discovery to realize I can find better love than Ari.

With the utmost maturity, David wrote me back:

Thank you for saying some of those things. It is really sweet of you. You’re darn right when you say this is going to be very painful.  With absolute honestly, all I want in the world for you is for you to be happy as well. Accepting that this is how it has to be for that to happen is  the hardest thing I have ever dealt with . I guess time will heal all, right.

You see, a little while David got engaged.  Those things I wrote about in my email, they’ve come true.  He found someone who could give him the love he needed.  Someone better from him.  I feel more certain than ever, that despite the fact that I broke his heart in those moments, that every decision I made was right. When I re-read my email, I pained.  My heart shifted in it’s place.  It’s been enough time, he’s happy.

After our relationship was over, I tried so many times to reach out to David, as a friend.  He wouldn’t have it.  He bitterly replied to my ‘Shana Tova’ emails.  He once told me to stop being nice and reaching out to him.  That initial maturity he extended to me disappeared.  I didn’t know how to deal with it.  David had been in my life for so long, I wanted to be his friend, I wanted some amicable relationship at least, but he wouldn’t give it to me.    About a year and a half ago, I gave up.  I stopped with the Shana Tova emails, the happy birthday emails.  I let him be.  I left him alone.  And so, when I heard of his engagement, I didn’t know what I should do: should I write Mazal Tov, or just leave it?  In the end, I wrote nothing.  I didn’t want to be that mythological ex (despite if he had any resentment/anger left towards me or no) butting into his happy moment.  I let him have it, without me.   After sifting through old emails, I have words for him.  My heart aches to just reach out to him one last time.  But I won’t. I can’t. And so, instead I’ll say it here.

Dear David,

My young adult life was defined by your love.  For so many years, you were more than my boyfriend, you were my best friend, and quite frankly, my life.  But when we split paths, I wanted one thing for you: happiness.  We were so much to one another, but by the end, we were but bitter souls, grappling for a love that had passed through us.  With that realization, I hoped that you would find her one day.  And you did.  May she be so much more than I ever could.  May you know only happiness, support, laughter and love.  So so much love.  This is what I wanted for you, and now that you have it, I’m happy too.  You told me once that time will heal all, right.  It did.  Mazal Tov.

Love,

Me.

I guess all this reflection has made me realize one thing: yes.  Yes he was my mythological ex.

Katamon Syndrome: The Story of a Downfall

Wrapped in blankets, sitting on my couch and chatting over beers, me and Talia got to the topic of my ex-boyfriend- Josh.  I haven’t really written much about Josh, mainly because we dated a little while ago.

Talia, who used to be good friends with Josh, said she had just bumped into him at shul last Friday.  She said he was like a different person. He gained weight, stuttered in his speech, was less suave and all together seemed odd, and well… different. Weird even she said.  “Josh!?!” I asked.  He used to be so confident, so cute, so you know- great.

She reported to me however, that Josh is officially suffering from a not-so-rare disease that she often speaks about.

Let me explain.

Talia has this theory she calls the “Katamon Syndrome”.  And as we bo

th sit huddled on my couch, chatting over beers, Talia decides to enlighten me on this popular theory, that she believes, many boys in Katamon suffer from.  It goes a little like this:

You are a new Oleh, coming to Israel from any and all corner of the world and land yourself into this mainly Anglo speaking Katamon community-like-place.  Here’s the thing, there aren’t that many guys around.  You find yourself out numbered by girls.  You are most likely thinking “Jackpot”.

Here is what the girls are thinking:

New boy + New dating opportunity = New potential husband.

Now, Talia believes that all these boys come here fairly normal (well not each and everyone… but ya… know) and they get here, and they become victims of this situation.  Their dating opportunities rise in comparison from where they were, and they feel like a commodity. Of course, according to Talia, this feeling is a consequence of situation, not truth.

This feeling of many girls- not so many boys, gets into the boys heads.  They get invited to more meals on Shabbat, they get invited to parties, where there are far less boys.  They begin getting set up with girls quite often.  In a nutshell: it’s getting to their heads.   They go around calling themselves the ‘kings of katamon’, sitting on their stuffed up ego-ed throne.   This is the Katamon Syndrome.  Then what happens? Well a few different scenarios occur:

1. Bam! They meet an amazing girl and get married.

2. What happened to Josh.

What happened to Josh?  He got weird. And kinda sad.

Coming to Katamon a fairly normal guy from Australia, he then dated too many girls, panicked from a nice case of commitmentphoebia, leaving him with no girlfriend.  Fooled around with too many girls, providing him with a bad reputation.  Now, no one wants to set him up with anyone.  Talia says, this part of the syndrome turns him into an over-egoed boy who has fallen from his throne.

What is it about Katamon that the boys here catch such a syndrome?

First off, is there such a ratio difference of boys to girls that boys are overwhelmed with choices?  I wrote in an older post “Of Zombies and Heroes” about how, as the women get older, they become more desperate to get married.  And how the men, generally, feel less pressured than the women and therefore become cocky and get a chip on their shoulder.  This would suggest, that it’s not necessarily about numbers, but rather about pressure.

So then, we are creating our own circumstances to give the boys the syndrome?

Well, not necessarily, in my mind at least.  So many of the boys here suffer from commitment issues.  (let’s be honest though- this is NOT unique to Katamon)  If they could face those commitment issues, they probably wouldn’t date girl after girl.  They probably wouldn’t break up with a girl because they “didn’t feel something” (that is inexplicable) and maybe give their relationships and feelings more time to develop. Maybe they’d be more honest with themselves about what they want and what they are looking for.  Are they looking for a string of girlfriends and hookups or a serious relationship that leads to marriage.

If there is one thing I’ve learnt in my years of dating it’s that relationships and love take work.  There is attraction and some kind of spark, but there is no magic involved in them.  There’s no cupid that infects you with some crazy-love syndrome.  You need to bring rationale, and work into the relationship to nurture growth, understanding and love.

So for many of these boys infected with the syndrome, all these fallen kings, maybe some of them are victims of their situation, and maybe some of them need to stop being boys, and start being men.

Talia gulps her last sip from her beer and laments over all those weird and odd boys that she can now count Josh as part of.  It’s a pity, she sighs.  Such a pity.

The Story of One Memory for Another

Sometimes I sit,  cross-legged, eager and wide eyed absorbing my words of the past.  My words are my memories, they are my paintings, my home and my heroes. But they also drag my heart to a place that I’ve lifted myself from.  They can act as a brick, pushing me down in the water, drowning me, suffocating me.

Sometimes I write words of wisdom, and sometimes I write words of sorrow.  Sometimes I write words of song and sometimes I write words of pain.

For so long, this post: The Story of A Pocketful of Sand made me cry.  It was a memory of Ari- a moment in time that I realized my heart sang for him.  It was the first time I realized I wanted to be with him- the first time he made me happy.  I remember every second of that moment.  I remember the during- the spontaneity, the romance and the laughter.  I remember the after- coming home with a smile on my face, and my heart full of hope.  But it was also the last memory to wipe away.  It was that one memory that clung to my heart- that dug itself deep.

Ari broke me.

And I was angry about that.  I would slap my hand on my table at work and lament that a boy could do that to me.

And so, I made goals to put myself back together.

And I did.  Piece by piece I become whole again.  For the last few months- I’ve been smiling.  I’ve made goals and surpassed them.  I’ve fallen in love again.  I’ve cried again.  I’ve lived, and I’ve felt every second and loved it.

But sometimes- that darn memory….. it couldn’t be washed away.

Memories are funny like that. Nostalgic.  And my words idealize it- they coat it with a wash of hope, of love.

But last week… I’ve replaced it.  Sitting at a bar- he sat across from me.  I’m not going to love him- I knew that.  It wasn’t a question of love, but a fact of fun.  And then he dragged me, holding my hand, as his pace turned from a walk into a playful run towards to the beach.  Feeling the cold water brush our feet, he held me closer while he kissed me.

I keep finding sand now.  In my shoes, in my bag, my bed, and even my pocket.

The Story of my “Creepy Italian Guy”

italyI’m not sure if this story is right out of some sleazy movie or from my worst nightmare.

I met Creepy Italian Guy at a bar last week.  At this point, he shall be referred to as simply, “The Italian” because the helpful adjective of ‘creepy’ can only be added later.  At this point, he’s just some suave European, who shows up late at a party.  I’ve already had a few glasses of wine, but I’m far from drunk.  I don’t notice him at first, but a mutual friend introduces us.  He’s cute, I’m slightly buzzed, I’m thinking, “why not?”

And so, in my ultimate effort to flirt, I mumble the few words in Spanish I know, which I’m aware is not Italian, but I’m thinking, “They’re sister languages anyway, right?!”.  I realize this odd pickup has worked, because now he’s telling me how cute I am when I speak Spanish (turns out he speaks Spanish as well) and now we are talking and getting to know one another.  After a few minutes, he asks me if he can buy me a drink.  I’m thinking, “score: pickup accomplished.”  We walk to the bar, order two mojitos and make our way outside of the bar to chat.

Now, whereas I threw out some pathetic attempt to flirt, The Italian has this routine down.  He’s pulling all the stops, and flirting with me like the world is going to end tomorrow.  So, when my friend suddenly pops outside to tell me that she’s leaving (and that she’s my ride home), I readily give The Italian my number when he asks.  I mean- game well played Italian boy.

In the car on the way home, my phone vibrates, “Nice to meet you- I hope we can meet soon”, the text reads.  Smooth boy, smooth.  And so, giggling in my tipsy state, I text back, “Nice to meet you too!  Call me tomorrow and we’ll make a date” (and then of course the little winkey smiley)  This was then followed by a few more flirty texts from the Italian.  OooOoo I’m thinking.

And so, the next day, he calls and asks me on a date.   I agree, and we decide to meet later on that day.

Now, I may have mentioned earlier in my post that when I first met him, I already had a few glasses of wine.  Even though I hadn’t been full out drunk, I was tipsy: I had been in a ‘happy delirium post a few drinks’ drunk.  The night I met him, I thought his behavior could be classified as ‘cute flirting’ BUT the morning after, upon sobriety, I translated his flirting, touching, and texting as a little “too much”.

Let me explain: I’m not one of those girls who swoons over needless romanticism.  Yes, I think “Love, Actually” is brilliant and I cry at every sappy girly movie, but I’m not hoping my boyfriend’s going to surprise me every other day with a bouquet of roses or whisper sweet nothings in my ear.  I could already tell the Italian was this kind of guy, and so, upon realizing I had agreed to go out with a guy like this, pre-date anxiety kicks in.  I’m now thinking the following:

“Damn.  I should not have made this date.  This guy is not for me, we are not going to get on.  This was a mistake.  I don’t want to go on this date.  I want to change out of these tights and skirts and makeup and wear my pj’s and browse pintrest.”

To drown these voices out, I open a bottle of wine.  And, this is how my flatmate finds me when she comes home from work: sitting in the kitchen, alone, and in the dark, with a single wine glass and a half empty bottle of wine.

Now she was most likely thinking either two things:   This bitch’s gonna kill my ass or,this bitch’s completely suicidal.

After explaining the situation (which apparently does not properly explain sitting in the dark a 6:30 pm with a bottle of wine) she gives me the usual, “you never know” pep talk followed by “he was so romantic” (not getting that “so romantic is not my thing”), and ushers me out the door.

Onwards to Creepy Italian!

I get a text from the Italian as I’m making my way to Emek Refaim, “A few minutes late”.  Wow- that’s so nice and thoughtful.  He had told me to meet him around Burgers Bar, and as I’m walking closer, he doesn’t see me, runs by me, as if he thinks I’m waiting there.  I’m thinking two things, “really? on a first date, he’s running to get there on time!? who does that?” but also, “wow, after shit ass Ari who would have never done that -no- DID leave me waiting for way more than a few minutes, this is nice. I feel nice!”  When I get to him, he’s out of breathe and smiling.  This is cute- right?  Anxiety? Pshhh- that earlier scene never happened.

But when he opens the door of Burgers Bar for me, I’m thinking, “Hmm.. we are eating here? I thought this was just the meeting point… ok….”.

We sit down. He orders wine. Now, question: who orders wine at a burger place, and who orders wine at Burgers Bar? (Isn’t beer the natural choice?!) But, post flatmate’s “you never know” talk, I go with it.  I drink the wine, and he’s yadayadaing about wine and Italy and I’m getting drunk, since I also drank half a bottle of wine at my flat.(And low and behold- the burger is not helping)  I can tell 10 minutes in, that this isn’t going to work out though.  He’s not for me.  But the wine- ohh the wine.

See, he’s doing horrendously corny things, like telling me how beautiful I am, how smart I am, and brushing my hair off my face, placing his hand over mine and giving me this sideways smile.  This type of behaviour would normally make me puke a bit, after all that wine, I let it go.  I know  I’m not into it, but I also just don’t care enough to stop him in my slightly tipsy state.  I move my hand away from his grasp, but I don’t tell him to stop. (aka- he keeps doing it)

So after we finish, he tells me he wants to go on a walk.  We wander through some backroads and find ourselves in some dark alley next to a park.(Ok maybe it wasn’t that sketchy)  My spideysenses are telling me “danger!”, but he grabs me and kisses me.  Since I generally have a strict no PDA rule- I paranoidly check to make sure no one is around.  And then I think, “Why not?” (there are a million why nots, but I don’t answer it- I just go with it) I mess around with him for a bit, until all of a sudden like a bolt of lightning, I stiffen.  I feel nothing for him.  Nothing at all.  Why am I doing this?  I back away and tell him I want to go home.  Now.  He’s seeming all too creepy, and I wish that I had an older brother at this moment, so he could roll around and grab me and yell at this creep to take a hike or something. He doesn’t understand my sudden change of attitude.  I’m already all torn up inside about kissing boys, and here I am doing it with some guy I just met. Why?  I don’t know why.  I make him walk me home pronto.  He insists on holding my hand, and I don’t understand why, and I really don’t want to hold his hand, but I also want to get home as soon as possible.  I never want to see him again.  He keeps turning to me and kissing me, as if he can’t stop himself, of which I keep answering, as if I can’t stop myself, “Please don’s kiss me.”  The walk home feels like a million and one years, and once I’m home, I quickly say goodbye, dont’ let him in, and close the door behind him- even though he’s lingering on to my hand.

Home. Safe. I let out a loud sigh of anxiety relief and go running into my flatmate’s room. “I’ve made a huge mistake” I tell her as I stand stalking in her doorway  stiff with stress.

I’ve added this date, to my most creeped out dates, and made a list of “Don’t dos” for next time.  But on the bright side, I’ll always have my Creepy Italian Guy story. (accompanied by my heebie jeebie shivers)

And so the lessons I learned:  1. Never trust my tipsy self. Just don’t.  I can’t make sane or proper or real decisions in such a state.

2.  Wine is never the solution.

3. Wine is sometimes the solution.

4. You never know. (but sometimes you do know…)

5. But most importantly: Follow #1

 

The Story of How We Meet Our Dates Otherwise Known As Set-Ups, Pick-Ups and Friend-Ups

blind dateI once read an article that someone wrote about dating in “the bitza” (The Swamp) in Jerusalem.  The advice was the following: Don’t get involved in the Bitza.  The article went on to say that the more you get involved in the community, the harder it will be to find someone to date.

Looks like an epic fail for me.

Her point was as follows: people involved in the swamp get stuck.  They don’t have the right mind frame for dating.  Serious dating can only be found by set ups. This means the only legitimate form of dating is set-ups.  Set ups can be: through friends, family, internet dating, or Shadchanim.  (The latter being the most appropriate)  Getting involved in the Bitza means getting involved in tricky friend/interested/not interested/attracted to/etc.. type of a situation that could potentially impede your serious mind frame for dating.

Point well taken.

So how do I, or my friends, meet their dates and boy/girlfriends?  And is the Swamp really hindering me?

First- there is the good ol’ set up.  This of course, comes from annoying friends or co-workers, who “have the perfect person for you” (they always have the “perfect” person for you,and yet you are still single… hmmm….)  Generally these set up dates are what I call, that “awkward first blind date” where you know before you’ve stepped out of your house it’s not going to work out but you drag your ass to that date anyway, because you are dead set on keeping an open mind. (Who knows, right?! He could be your besheret!)  Of course, there is also that old lady you bump into in the elevator, who says to you, “You’re cute! I have a grandson, let me give you his number” Yikes….. This is the situation where I usually smile politely, nod my head whilst pretending to be deaf.

Of course, there are also set ups from friends who really do know you, and where it goes well. ( or at least you understand the “why” of the set up… and you go, “ahhh, I get it, but no…”) This is my favorite of the set ups.  (And how I met my ex, David) My friend just got set up on a date the other night, and she can’t stop talking about the guy, how much they have in common and all that other positive girly dribble.  “And can you believe we’re both vegetarians!?” (No, I can’t: I love meat)

And for the last of the set-ups- there is online dating.  I got kicked off of Saw You At Sinai because I took too long to respond to requests. Oops.    In any case, even this dating seems pretty shallow, since the Shadchan doesn’t really know who you are.  In fact- they could be that old lady on the elevator.  While I don’t doubt that it may work for some people, I’m usually biting my nails in nervousness, because, really, who is this guy?!

Second- there is pick ups.  And isn’t this why I drag myself to all these silly Katamon events? Maybe there’s  a slew of new Olim who are fresh off the plane? Ok- we are not talking about merchandise here, but I feel as though, this is a nice natural way to meet.   We all have this nice little fairy tale dream that we won’t be set up with our significant other, but that they’ll just see us across the bar, stride over, strike up a conversation, and POOF! we connect, we date, and we are engaged to be married.  (WARNING: MOVIE OVERLOAD!)  But in all seriousness, this happens. (maybe not the suave striding over after spotting you part…)  People meet naturally all the time.  Maybe it’s not at a party, but maybe it’s a Shabbat meal, maybe it’s an event and you just start talking to someone.  It happens.  And it’s lovely.  (As a side note, I was recently “picked-up” in a bar- but the experience, while nice at the pick up stage, was a train wreck at the follow up date… so o’natural is not always the best either)

And finally, there is the “friend-up” which is really just a fancy new term I’ve invented for the friend to dating process.  This of course means, you meet someone, you become friends, and then one day you realize you have a hot burning passion for one another.  Maybe it’s not so sexy.  This is how I met Ari. (definitely minus the sexy)  We were friends.  I always thought he was cute, and then after about a year or so, of friendshipdome,  accompanied by some outings with heavy flirting, he asked me out.  Yet, this form of dating can also get tricky.  We are now broken up and I occasionally see him out, and we have the obligatory “How are you” conversation.  (And of course it impeded my getting over him phase at the beginning)

So- let’s get to the crux.  Is my participation in the Swamp hindering my chances of meeting my significant other.  The answer: How do I know!?

There is something to it- I’m meeting guys now and getting involved in friendships that will most likely go nowhere with regards to my romantic life.  I’m spending some emotional strife on them.  I’m proving myself to be less serious and I see the same with others.  Am I just throwing around my time and energy into a pit?  Sometimes it feels like that.  And am I stopping myself from meeting better guys?  Sometimes I get so disillusioned by the men I’m meeting in the swamp, and it’s honestly a little depressing.

But there is another aspect- and that’s friendship and community.  I roll my eyes way too many times, but I have also found some kind of community- no matter how many times I put it down.  I’ve made friends that I can laugh with, be real with and can trust.  I’m not saying that the entirety of the swamp is my family- no far from it- but I’m meeting some good people within it.  And for that I’m thankful.

I think the lady who wrote the article had a lot of truth in her argument.  Yet- and there’s a yet, relationships have formed and prospered within the swamp.  It’s a community, and within a community there is a family, and within a family, there is somewhere to grow.

The Story of Twenty Days

The last time I posted on this blog was January 1st, 2013.  I had just come out from a rough night.  I was disillusioned.  I was lonely.  I was sad.  I was holding on.  I was lying to myself.  I was pretending.   I read my old posts, and sadness stirred from within each word.

BUT today, I can say that the story of the last twenty days is a story of happiness.

First, on January 2nd, I admitted to a good friend the following things:

1. I was holding onto Ari because I still had hope we could get back together

2. I wanted to get back together because I didn’t think I deserved better

3. I wanted to get back together because I was afraid of the future.  I was afraid of being alone.  What is known is better than the unknown.

I just heard the following quote, “We accept the love we think we deserve”.  I accepted his love because I didn’t think I deserved better.  I do.  I really do.

And on January 3rd, I had a good cry about my fears.  And this is what another good friend said to me:

Fear is a useful tool.  It’s supposed to warn us of impending danger.  There are three reactions: Flight, Fight and Freeze.  I was freezing in the face of my fear of the future and of the unknown.  But the future isn’t a real danger, it’s only an imagined danger.  I don’t need to flee, I don’t need to fight and I don’t need to freeze. What I need to do is run into it with open arms.

And so, on January 4th, I ran into the future with open arms.

I have let go.

I have finally let go.

I deserve better.

I’m not afraid of the future.

I am happy.

So, the hiatus of twenty days has been filled with me running into open fields.

From January 4th, until today, I’ve been smiling.

I can’t say that I won’t be sad.  I can’t say that my heart can’t bleed.  It will.  But I’m burying ache in the past and turning my face to a brighter future.  And this-this is a choice.

The Story of a New Year: Last Year’s Bill and Next Year’s Hopes

Dans le Townhouse_Happy New YearAt 10 pm last night, all I wanted to do was put on my PJs, crawl into bed and watch Love Actually.  New Years?  Pshh- it’s not even a deal in Israel!  And a new years party?  Even worse.  All it means is people celebrating a new year as an excuse to get pissed. (A New Years, that Israelis don’t even care about)  Not like I didn’t have a million and one reasons to get drunk last night, but I was being a pessimist.  New years has this horrendous symbolism; we want to wash our hands of the crap from last year, and throw a bunch of new expectations on the next year.  Not like we didn’t just do that a few months ago during the Chagim.  This time though, we don’t have to go to Shul or fast; all we need to do is get drunk.

In addition to my hissy fit, I was feeling a nice dose of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)  Yes, I can rail against the system, but at the end of the day I would still feel worse if I didn’t go out.  This way I could show up at the party, mumble through some small talk, feel like I am ‘somewhere’ (that isn’t my bed) at 12:00, and then rush home on time once I’ve fed my FOMO.  So, instead of cuddling up in my PJs, I ventured out into the night, in search of some kind of new years fulfillment.

I remember looking at my watch at 11:53 pm, and thinking, “Really?!?! It’s still not midnight?”  I was being a Debbie Downer.  I had spoken with Ari, which just made me sad, and I was mingling amongst people that I couldn’t even give a crap about.  My social anxiety was quickly settling in and I kept watching the clock to see when I could make my way out and find myself back in my bed, in those pyjamas.  At Midnight, we all counted down, and when the new year made it’s way in, I realized I hated myself in this moment.  Why do I always need to focus on the bad? Why do I need to be such a pessimist and dwell on things that don’t need to be dwelt on?  Why do I always feel bad for myself?  My over thinking mind needed a break.  So, I downed what was left of my half-drunk beer, and rushed out to get another one.  And as I walked  back to the party, with beer in tow, I realized that isn’t the real me.  Well it is, but it’s a part of me that I want to work on.  I don’t want to be that girl stooping around and dwelling, dwelling, always dwelling.  And so, I had a moment: I thought, “F%^& IT!”.  That’s it.  Just F%^& it all.”

My night did not end up with me rushing home for bed.  I stayed for quite a few  more hours; drinking, dancing, talking and having fun.  Yes, I had fun.  I also opened my mouth one too many times when it should have stayed closed. (I have this horrendous drunk problem, where I just don’t know when, or how to shut up, and all the truths, come streaming out of me- for better or worse) But it was fine.  Nothing is ever as bad as we make it out to seem, but our minds do this lovely trick of corruption.

The only thing that really stung was the one thing I’ve been trying to forget and go forward with: Ari.  I was dancing with a few people, and a boy, who I knew liked me and had bought me a drink, when I saw his figure pass me by, and swoop out of the door to go home, all alone.  I wanted to go over and say bye…WHY DO I FEEL THIS SILLY NEED TO SAY BYE TO THIS JERK? We can all make estimations, but it’s because I’m still holding on to a sick part of my past.  I’m still holding on to him even though I don’t want to. Am I bitter than it’s over with him? Do I want to date him again? Do I think he can change and be what I want?  I’m not sure.

Instead of leaving this boy I was with to go and say bye to Ari, I simply pulled out my phone and texted him. (Sometimes I don’t understand why I’m such a fail at the playbook for “Things you never do with an ex”)  I really think I need to put training wheels on my heart.  Go back to the basics so that this damn heart of mine can quiet down and follow the logic of my mind.  I texted him that I miss hanging out with him.  I’m a fool.  In my drunken moments, I let it all out- I tell everyone everything, and then I wake up the next day with the most intense feeling of regret and sadness.

And so, to end off  2012, I left it feeling like a shining idiot.  And now, as I sit in my bed in my pjs at 10 pm, prepared to watch Love Actually just like I had wanted to last night, I’m thinking of my own personal bill of last year, and thinking of my expectations for next year.

Let me end off with the following:

A prayer, for myself, but also for anyone that has stumbled on my blog.  I started this as an experiment in emotions but also because I bleed words, and I needed to put them somewhere.  No matter what happened last year, whether I smiled about it, or cried about it.  No matter my achievements or my failures.  No matter the good, no matter the bad.  No matter the love that poured out of my every seam and no matter the heartbreak that won’t go away.  I’m looking forward, because I want to look forward.  This isn’t because it’s January 1st, 2013: the start of the new year.  This is because every moment holds the potential to take me forward and fulfill me. We will all continue and so will I, whether it’s with tears rolling down my face or whether it’s with a smile and a full heart.  The new year came while I was in a bar, but it would have also come while I was in bed.  So please, let the next moments that come, roll me forwards: to self-happiness and fulfillment.  All we have in this life are moments and I want to feel each and every one of them.

Amen.

The Story of My Words

When I look at you, I see nor flesh nor bone: only words.  Letter by letter- you are shaped into my language, stacked in front of my eyes.  You too will fall apart into the white of my page.  One by one you’ll be found in sentences, paragraphs, and stories.  And me? I’m already lost in the story of ourselves.  Here is where I find my sanity. Here is where I find my relief.  Here is where I find myself.

Sometimes I think words are all I have, and i might want to disappear inside each meaning.  If i write my life in a series of words, will you understand me? Can you peer through the black letters and see me hiding behind each word, crouching silently to conceal my true self?

So dear heart, my mind has informed me that it’s sick from the sound of your tears.  It wants you to let the soothing sound of it’s words, lull you to a calm.  It feels you holding on by a thread, suffocated by the stress of it’s thoughts: Corrupted. Distorted . Distraught   You suffer from my disease.  The tunnel is closing and so far you are from the exit. But my words are your Superman standing guard; cape waving in the wind.  Let them be the shield to illuminate the horizon so that you no longer need to quietly sneak away and live a life in tears.

I fear that I’m unraveling at every seam.

I fear that only in darkness can my soul sing.

I fear that naked in daylight I’m nothing but a shadow.

I fear that I am.  I fear that i won’t be.

Solace can only be found here, in the script of my mind.

The Story of the Three Date Rule

ThreeStrikesI recently began dating someone.  I’m only at that beginning: at the “what do we even think of one another” place- where we are not quite dating, but simply “getting to know one another.” Are we “matim”?

Maybe this is the difference between modern orthodox dating, and more frum dating.  On my dates, I usually end up blabbing away like a real chatterbox .  I have this amazing talent where I can just talk and talk and talk and talk and talk.  Sometimes I’m talking about something with real substance, and I have my hands waving and I’m getting louder and more and more passionate.  And sometimes I’m talking about nothing- absolute rubbish.  I’m just connecting sentences together about the unpredictableness of the weather or the bureaucracy in Israel.  Can you really get to know me like this?

But real frum dating- they get to it right away.  They want to know the basics, of what we want and exactly what we expect in the future.  They have all the real cards down right from the first date.  Meanwhile I’m floozing on about- trying to “get to know one another”.  Will we connect?  Will sparks fly?  Will we have some kind of connection that we can then build on?  When I start jabbering on about politics or philosophy- will they nod their head in confusion, or will they challenge me?  Do we have shared morals and values to build on?   I always feel like I’m dancing around the core understanding of the other- I’m playing some game where I’m trying to understand them, without asking directly.  I’m ripping apart an onion, hoping I’ll like what’s inside.

Sometimes I think that I have it all wrong.  I’m never fully myself on these dates anyway- none of us are- how can we be, if we are dating someone who doesn’t know us- that core ‘us’? If I’m not completely myself, then how can they be completely themselves either?  We are all wearing that mask of impressions.  And hence, the unwritten, but yet understood, “three date” rule.  We take date one, to see if we can stand the person, and if the conversation hasn’t come down to a game of yes or no.  We take the second date to see if the first was a fluke.  And then the third date, we attempt to judge if this can really go anywhere.  By the third date, most of us are either at a “nooooo way, this charade has to end now, I’ve been too nice and patient” kinda place, or a “uhhhh I dunno” kinda place, where we want to know more, and want to keep going.

When you get to the fourth date, you’ve given a sort of green flag where, you can relax a bit more, and you can call one another a bit more, and you feel like you are dating a bit more, rather than on dates.  Yet, whenever I’m at that three date threshold, and I’m either “giving them one more chance” or allowing this date to be the “deciding moment”, I’m still not convinced if this is the right way to go about.  While there are black and white cases, what do I do about the grey?  And when I get rejected after the three dates, I’m pondering with myself, “But did he really know me?”.

Here is the problem with the grey zone: we go on these chatty dates, attempting to unearth one another’s interests, their hobbies, their mode of thinking, their religious observance, their manner, their intellect, their level of niceness/jerkiness and yadayadayada, but we sometimes come out with a bunch of nothing in our hands, that leads us to a dead end about the other.  We make decisions on a feeling.  We didn’t “connect” or there was “something” missing.  We self sabotage   He wasn’t this enough.  “This” will make him “That” and I don’t want “that”.  We doubt ourselves.  We doubt what we want, what we are looking for.

I have no solution to this.  I am just another random girl you may have met at shul or at some party, looking for another random boy at shul, or at some party.  I believe in chatting along because I believe that I must know the other person; inside and out, before I can commit myself to them.  Yet, I see the holes in the beginning of this system.  I’m not ready to walk into a first date and list everything about myself and everything I want in the future, because I’m not even sure of those things.  I’m an elastic:  I’m ready to stretch and to move, if I can only find something worthwhile to tie myself around.  I know what my cores are, I know what my substance is, but I’m neither fixed nor set.  I want to hear what you have to say, and I want you to hear what I have to say.  Unfortunately, before we get there, I’ll have to chat on… about the unpredictableness of the weather and the difficulties of Israeli bureaucracy.

The Story Of Our Baggage

My first real relationship was with a boy named David.  I was young at the time, and I was innocent; so starry-eyed.  The heaviness of life, still hadn’t laid itself in the middle of my heart.  I jumped with a lightness that propelled me into the air with each skip.

There were crushes and flirtations before David.  I dated a few boys at camp before him- but, those dates consisted of chatting around the bonfire.  It was pretend, it was make belief.

I thought I had been in love a million times over before David.  I didn’t understand love.  I didn’t understand how you can share emotions with someone.  I was new to it all, innocent and fresh.

So when I entered in the relationship with David, I was baggage-less: I didn’t even understand the concept of baggage.  I look back at myself with an air of nostalgia, with a desire to fling off the weight the years have given me.  Today, I walk heavy.  My back is crooked, and my heart is pained with the lessons that came before me.

I opened myself completely to David.  I didn’t even hesitate.  I didn’t once debate with myself: what could he do with my heart?  I was ready to be vulnerable, because I didn’t understand the consequences of it.

My relationship with David was beautiful.  It will always be the most pure.  Perhaps I am looking back at it with rose-tinted glasses, but I truly believe that without baggage we are more prepared to hand ourselves over.

When me and David broke up, and he left my life, his story transformed itself into a little suitcase I took with me everywhere.  So when I met John in Israel, after I made Aliyah, I was grasping onto that suitcase with both hands- I was clutching onto him with dear life.

And each one, each boy becomes a suitcase.  Each date I go on now, is another lump that lodges into my throat.

But it’s more than that.  The boys are only half the luggage.  I’m holding onto a bag labeled “insecurity”, another one that says, “fear of rejection” and another one that lists the reasons why I was or will be rejected.  Another one that says, “hold onto yourself- don’t let go”.  Another bag that cynically lists the reasons why dates are a horribly formed torture.  Another one that debates a life alone.  The list goes on.

If when I met David I was light, it was because I was also free.  Free of the experiences that have shaped every curve, slope and hole in my heart.

When I went on a first date the other day, and I lodged myself in the seat across from this boy, I felt as though it wasn’t just me and him in that booth.  It was the thought of all the boys I had ever dated, and all the boys that hurt me, and all the boys that make me sigh at night.  It was all the thoughts that race through my mind with such authority that I squirm.  It’s all that bloody baggage that I don’t think I can ever get rid of.

And that’s the point… we can never get rid of our baggage.  It will haunt us day in and day out.  It is the experiences, lessons and stories of our life.  Talia once said to me that it’s not the baggage itself, but how we deal with the baggage.  Do we simply shlep it around, and allow the memories to bring us closer and closer to the ground until we collapse: exasperated and hopeless?  Or can we use it?  Can we allow everything that once broke us down, that maybe still does, to help build us back up?  To let us learn- even the lessons we don’t want to hear.

Me and David broke up because we were completely wrong for each other.   I look back at David, yes as my first love, but also a love that I could never, and would never want to be in again.  It was lovely when I was young, but it would never have sustained, and that’s why it disintegrated.  And so, in that way, my baggage is also my teacher, my guide to understand myself.  I’m not saying that I don’t often fall asleep drowning in the baggage, with tears streaming down my face.  I’m saying that when I get up in the morning, after a good dose of self-pity, I try to stand up straighter than I did the day before.  I take the lessons.  I absorb them.  If the baggage can’t, and won’t go away, then I will reclaim it.  I will understand and I will do better.  I will challenge the fear of rejection.  I will use rationality to stop my insecurities, and allow it to motivate me.  I will use the lessons I learned with David, John and now Ari to guide me to the next thing in my life.