23 August 2009

Prairie Flowers During Elul

I learned this weekend that prairie flowers live 2/3rd under the soil. All of that gorgeous flower above ground, but below, there is a whole life going on we never even stop to think about. Wildflowers are always my favorite. I've never liked store-bought roses.

Spending three days camping by myself around prairie flowers got me thinking about the fact that in my life, even though I'm hardly living my whole life on the surface, there is nothing in my life that couldn't exist on the surface. No part of my life is private by necessity. I have no secret escapes. There is nothing I do, not one thing, that if my students or their parents found out about it would be truly problematic. The only problem would be that they'd laugh at me. Guaranteed my students (even the 7th graders) have had more action this year than I have. 

That's good, right? Not necessarily their choices, but mine. I mean, here I am, a not-halachically-observant-progressive-not-really-reform-or-conservative-but-definitely-not-orthodox-jewish-woman who has no skeletons in my closet. Oh, right, except for envy . . . the envy of other people's closets. That's right, not just their skeletons . . . I even envy the rooms they put them in.

Not that there is nothing for which I should ask forgiveness as I prepare for the High Holidays. On the contrary . . . for the sins I have committed, the list feels endless. But I think my worst is the sin of wishing I could allow myself to actually live 2/3rds of my life - or any of it - in secret. 

I have followed the rules. No, I'm not shomer negillah, not really. But I'm a single woman living in a secular world who has not kissed anyone in over a year. My last serious relationship ended in 2005. I've kissed two people since that. One because it was the easiest way to end the date. I'm not proud of that, and that kiss was terrible. It confirmed for me that there is no good reason to kiss someone when one doesn't actually WANT to. The other was on a 6th or 7th date . . . and comparatively, it was a pretty chaste kiss. I mean, I enjoyed it, but it also ended as nothing more than a kiss, and therefore it's also likely why I never saw or heard from him again. Well, that and the fact that I wouldn't stay over that night, either. He wouldn't tell me about his sister over dinner because he didn't think we knew each other well enough for family stories. A few hours later, though, he was quite certain we knew each other well enough to spend the night together. I went home. I did not kiss him good-night. 

And the thing is, I didn't leave because I didn't want to have sex. I did. A lot. I left because I didn't want to have sex with him, this man I'd basically just met, who I had barely gotten to know, who  . . . there were so many questions I didn't want to have to ask him yet - questions about being tested, and values, and what sex meant to him . . . and I know, I have always known, that for me substituting one man for another would never work. Having sex with someone because I want to be touched will not make up for not having sex with the person I wish were touching me.

In part I started this blog so I'd have a place in my life that could be a secret - something I could keep from my students and even from some of my friends. Secrets I could keep from my mother.  I have a secret identity here - sort of. All of this anonymous freedom and most of my entries have been Torah discussions. Yes, honest frustration with religion, religious communities, God, and life, and men . . . but really, a secret?

It's not that I'm keeping anything back - it's that I have nothing more interesting to divulge. This blog is my 2/3rd with one exception. I'm trying to keep the anger out of it. I don't want to give voice to how angry I actually am. I don't think it'll help, and it'll just  . . . talk me down. It'll make it worse. That's why I kind of stopped blogging. I don't think anything I have to say is actually constructive - even though it's all true. 

Anyway, I'm not sure why I'm writing now. Maybe I want suggestions for how to develop the secret life I neglected when I had the chance in college and in grad school. Maybe I want affirmation that secret lives are overrated. Maybe I want someone to convince me to just give it up and go frum. Maybe I want to be rescued. From what? I don't even know.

What's my 2/3rds?

I don't even know.



05 August 2009

What's Love Got to Do With It?

Tu B'Av - the Jewish day of love. It's not Valentine's Day; there isn't a saint to be found. However, two of my students crashed my office today so we could go out to lunch and learn more about this summer holiday. (Amazing what we learn about each other on Facebook! My status = Jewish outreach. Nice!) Of course, being the middle of a lunar month, it's also a full moon. I'm sitting in the car outside a coffee shop so I'm almost outside and have internet access. The sky is clear and dark and the moon is full. When I lived in Australia I found the night sky unsettling. No north star, no dipper . . . I wasn't sure how to find comfort in the southern cross or the sisters. Yet, there is the same moon, and the Jewish calendar still works. I'm not sure how I'd observe Jewish holidays on another planet - that seems problematic.

It's true, I'm rambling.

I have a friend in Honduras asking where the love is - but he is not referencing vineyards or moons, he's just wondering when his country will feel safe again.