In the past month or so, blasts from the pasts have been swarming and swirling all around me. See, I lead an ordinary (ok, maybe not so ordinary) New York life, running and rushing, accomplishing and delaying, procrastinating and catching up. Ups, downs, insanity, family, bills, friends, the gamut of life all rolled into an insane ball....
Pretty much, I figured by now I kind of knew where I was headed, what direction I have been and was moving in and although the rug sometimes gets pulled out from under me, my feet were pretty much planted flat on the ground. My circle of very close friends, which is very tight-knit mostly come from the background I do, we laugh, cry, make fun of people, travel, cook, are broke, nothing fancy....
Then the flashbacks began.
I dont know exactly at what point it was. I didnt even know, didnt have a clue how jaded I actually am. How deep I buried thoughts and feelings. Yes, I toss my head and say - anger? Nah, I'm over it.... I've moved on with my life ten years ago. When they got "rid" of me, boy was I angry... I hated. I escaped, I cursed, but now - I'm over it.
Guess what - seems that I'm not.
I look back ten years ago, an entire DECADE and to how I used to think I was the shit. I was too cool for words. Heck, I was already divorced, was still in my teens, drove a fancy car, was living in Flatbush and tried a whole lotta drugs, with a whole lotta other jewish kids. I wheeled and dealed. I thought I was god. I thought I was showing em all. But, boy oh boy - things havent changed, they have progressed in an upward spiral who's tornado ring doesnt seem to have an end.
Drugs and sex are rampant. Everyone knows better. Now I'm the
old one as I watch helplessly. I see my mistakes all taking true
form once again, yet I feel as though I hold the magic ball that shows
all the answers. Or shall I say bitter, bitter consequences.
And is it a wonder. Ask any "ex-chasidic" kid, (if they're even
willing to give you the time of day if you're religious) - about anything in life general, and a spitfire of hate, resentment
and hurt will fall out of them, beneath that sheath of pride. The
rage, ranting and raving - boy will you hear it. Or you'll get
laughed at. Tauntings and mockings. The consenus: nobody understands, nobody cares. If people care - its about a
"good name" or "saving their life", oh my god! The movies! The
kid is going to the movies, he's being beckoned to hell by the
devil himself! Movies and internet your problem? Ha!
Check out the divorces in the age group of 18 - 20, boys and girls
on the run (running from everything and everyone, in every
possible way), even if encased in Brooklyn itself.
I was sitting in the bathroom watching someone shave...
Just making small talk... He turned to me and said, do
you see this scar on my head? I looked up... Sure as day, a long lean scar. Apparently as a little
six year old he fell off a swing set;something in the park on Shabbos,
the seventh day of the week, that God rested - the day of rest. No phones, no electricity, no cars - all pretty simple
in Orthodox homes. When his father saw the flooding gash on his
head, he grabbed a handkerchief out of his 'bekisha', his silk
traditional shabbos garb and threw it onhis sons head. Instructing
him to hold down and apply pressure, he took his kids
hand and walked a two hour walk to the hospital, refusing to call
the ambulance or allow himself or his kid to ride in one.
I gaped in disbelief. It wasnt that shocking, but each time I still
shudder. Later on, we were driving down a long winding road in
Rockland County and out of nowhere this young man braked; the
car slowed down and he said coldly, as if it were someone else
speaking - "see there", pointing to a bright awning in a
mini-strip mall, "thats where we stopped to re-adjust that
shmattah on my head". He continued driving for another
seven minutes, then pointed - "yeah, and down there - thats
the hospital". From my city perspective, I would say at least
another twenty five minutes, were I to walk it.
Whats a memory of a scar? Take the band-aid off, that scar is there. Pick at the scab, the wound is there. Keep picking, that scar aint going anywhere.
Over twenty years later, an adult man feels a scar on his head. An adult man, succesful, smart, funny, witty, only randomly may run his hand through his hair and feel a scar on his head. I wonder what thoughts he has as he feels the line where the stitches were once sewn, holding his scalp together. He walks into a seven-eleven and people stare him down. Their thoughts are pretty clear. They may as well speak them aloud. But what about his thoughts. Are they not justified? Can making a phone call on shabbos be justified????
Are these justifiable decisions or choices? Is it picking or choosing? Is it an action that will decades later explain to an adult and rectify the pain a parent may have inflicted (even unwillingly!)? At what point did picking and choosing erase the improbable cause for disaster in a kids future? At an action that later may not even have a reaction, just a devastating consequence. I dont think I am angry. I dont think I am hateful or spiteful. I just feel that maybe I start the self-discovery, and perhaps my journey is shared or can be. When did you know? When did you realize that you had to run? When did you make your first "justified" move? When did I make my first justified phone call on Shabbos?
Is it love for religion, or religion for love? Is either justified?
4 months ago