Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Shidduch Experiment

Is the internet filled with weirdos? Crazy, creepy, stalkers, who lurk in cyber shadows, afraid to venture out into the real world?

I don't think so. I think the internet has become pretty main stream. Regular people use it; nice normal people surf this site, people like me, and like you.

Yes, you.

And now the question is, Are you a guy? Are you single? Are you smart? Are you a balance of seriously Frum and open minded? Do you want to live in Israel?

And if you don't fit the above criteria, maybe you know somebody who does?

Frum Satire's been trying to convince me for months to post a Shidduch profile on his site. I remained skeptical. Why look for trouble? It’s not like I don't have boys to go out with.

But I'm trying to break out of the mold. I've been dating for four years, from ever since I turned nineteen. And I don't think I've been meeting the right type of guy. I could carry on with the way I've been doing things. Hear the same Shidduch suggestions from family friends, and siblings' friends, and Seminary friends' husbands'. But instead I turn to you, the world-wide-web. Frumster and SYAS work for some people, is this any different?

So here goes. And I know I can rely on all my wonderful friends in the JBlogosphere to link to this post, and spread the word. (Yup, that's a hint! Admit it's a fun way to test the power of blogging.)

"So tell me about yourself"

Well I fall between two worlds

Boys who are raised in Israel, and go through the Chareidi system, tend to become very Chareidi themselves. While we girls keep our home's Hashkafa, and still look for openness.

And so I turn my eyes to the States. But it's hard to find a YU-style guy, who wants to live in Israel. It's hard to find ANY YU-Style guys, while I'm in Israel.

Of course, maybe the real reason I'm still single is that Clever Girls are Ugly

Or that I'm Frum N' Feminist

And oh no, have they been speaking to my neighbors?

Did they hear about my lack of housekeeping skills?

Anyway, I shall continue my search for True Love

Maybe my next date will be a GOOD Shidduch Date?


And maybe I'll meet him online?

My email address is chutznikit@gmail.com . Consider this an experiment.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Skipping to Motherhood

I could buy a Sheitel and a ring, and move to a place where no one knows me. I could say my husband is a Masmid, and learns in Kollel night and day, and thus explain away his absence. I could have a baby, and raise him on my own. I could stop waiting for the right man, and skip to the next stage. I could be a mother, before I'm a wife.

I won't, of course. But sometimes I want to.

I told my theory to the guy I was dating, when we sat on the grass one night.

"First you think marriage is about having a permanent boy friend, and it's not."


Teenagers also want to get married. They want a boy to give them red roses and heart shaped candies. They want a boy to tell them he loves them. They want the romance, and the relationship. But marriage should be about giving, not taking. They aren't there yet. If they do get married their relationship will have to mature, after the Chuppah, for it to last.

"Then you think marriage is about giving to each other, building a relationship. That's closer, but still not enough."


When I started dating, I was nineteen. I wanted to get married, but secretly also hoped I could push off having kids for a couple of years.

"When you actually want to have children, that's when you know for sure that you're ready for marriage, ready to build a home"

I can't put my finger on the exact moment when it all changed. It happened gradually, I suppose.

You may say that it's peer pressure, being surrounded on all sides by strollers and pacifiers.

You may say it's my biological clock beginning to tick louder.

I think that it's age, maturity. Reaching that stage where you want to love without limits, where you want to be a parent, and raise a child.

You're scared, it's a big responsibility, but you feel ready for it, ready to be a mother.

And now I'm past the stage of readiness, I've reached the stage of impatience, of longing.

I hold out my finger, and a baby grasps it and wraps his little hand around it. I read a story about a stuffed elephant to a chubby toddler, she smiles and repeats the words. "Kick" I tell the six year old, showing her how to swing all by herself.

The right guy hasn't showed up yet. But I want to be a mother. I wonder what would happen if I could buy a Shaitel and a ring, and move to a place where no one knows me...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Chapter 23: Brachy's Pictures

They sat cross legged, in a circle on the grass. As she leaned over, to take the photos from her bag, Brachy's skirt brushed against Avner's jeans. Brachy shifted a little, away from Avner. She did it carefully, for him not to notice and be offended. It felt strange for a boy to be so close.

Avner was nice; her one friend in the class. He always saved a place for her, and filled her in on what Ilana had taught, when Brachy arrived late after work. The others mainly ignored her. They were busy with their cameras and equipment. Unscrewing lenses, playing with the settings, using foreign terms like "aperture priority" and "white balance".

The two men on her left were having a heated debate on the merits of Canon vs. Nikon. "Canon's autofocus is useless!" the one man was practically shouting.

Brachy had a Canon. It lay on her lap now, an even rectangle of metal and plastic. It was dwarfed by the cameras around her. They were big and bulky, jutting out in awkward angles; they were cameras for professionals.

"Can I see?"

Avner pointed at the pile of pictures she was holding. He could only make out the brick wall, on the top one.

"They're the photos Ilana told us to bring, our best ones from before the course."

"Yes, I guessed. I'd like to see them, can I?"

Brachy passed them over to him. She was careful to hold only the one edge, so that Avner could take them by the other side, without their fingers touching.

She watched him, as he placed the photos one by one on the top of the stack. She watched his eyes, his face, the creases around his mouth, trying to guess what he thought of her work. She felt as if she were letting him see inside her. She never showed her photos to anyone. They were taken in random moments, and then forgotten.

Avner was surprised. He'd expected panoramic views, of rivers and the sea shore. He'd expected close ups of flowers and butterflies. He'd expected smiling babies, and toddlers in beribboned dresses. Those were the type of pictures that girls took, that his old girl friends used to coo over.

Instead he saw people; adults, old men, teenagers. They kept their backs to the camera, their faces turned away. Their backgrounds were walls, and wires, and odd patches of shadows.

"I like the composition" Avner said finally.

His eyes met Brachy's.

Ultra orthodox girls weren't new to Avner. He saw them every day, as they streamed past him in flocks, between schools and stores and apartment buildings. They looked away from him, ignored him. They were primly dressed, staidly dressed, in pleated skirts and baggy blouses, buttoned to the collarbone. They sent out a forbidding aura, carefully bred into them by mothers and matrons and teachers. "Stay away", their every gesture told him.

Brachy was dressed the same. But Brachy was different.

He wanted to know her.

"How about we go grab a coffee, afterwards? I know a fun place in town. It's Mehadrin, you only eat Mehadrin, right?" Avner said it casually, as if it wasn't a big deal.

Brachy should have known this would happen. It was what she had been warned about, her whole life. Boys were dangerous, if you got too close to them.

"I can't" she said. "I don't do that."

Avner shrugged. "No problem."

He picked up Brachy's phone from where it nestled by her side, in the grass, and tapped on a few buttons. It only took a minute.

"Here's my number, call me if you ever change your mind. Maybe one evening you'll be free, and bored." Avner smiled at her, and gave Brachy back her phone, and her pictures.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Happy Yom Ha'Atzmaut

The annual Underground Independence Day celebrations continue in the Chareidi world.

A funny twist is that my Kollel-wife friends are also joining in the fun and making Seminary/School reunion parties, since they are on vacation, while their husbands don't have off.

Chapter 22: The Women's Side

Shulamit wished she had a notepad with her, or even a scrap of paper. She loved the line, simple and flowing. She loved the fabric, matte silver lace. She itched to draw it.

The girl wore it well; her blonde hair was cut in one clean line, and lay on her shoulders, in bright contrast to the muted lace. The girl had poise, a certain sophistication in her stance, as if she knew it all already, and there was nothing new you could tell her.

Shulamit hesitated. Something about the girl looked too perfect, intimidating. Confident people scared her. But she had to know where that dress was from. She picked up a last cookie from the buffet table, and moved purposely towards where the blonde girl in the beautiful dress was standing, by the Mechitza.
__________

Karen wanted to cry, from the sheer disappointment. She had spent weeks, getting ready for Sara Leah's wedding. First the dress, which she'd spotted in a window on Betzalel street, spent a solid chunk of salary on. Then finding the right shoes, a matching bag. Then the hour applying makeup, the rushed trip to the hairdresser after work.

She really thought she was at her best. And all for what? It was wasted, effort down the drain. Separate by a wooden partition, ignored entirely by all men.
The most she could hope for was to find favor in a woman's eyes. A mother of a boy, an aunt of a boy; if one of the matriarchal women here approved of Karen, there was hope they'd later try to set her up
.
Then Karen felt a tap on her shoulder. She spun around.

"Hi," a girl she didn't know was saying, "Can I ask you a question?"
__________
Two girls sit next to each other on the playground's monkey bars.

"What's your name?"
"How old are you?"
"What's your favorite color?"

Two girls stand next to each other at a wedding.
The questions change. So do the answers.

"Where is your dress from?"
"Where did you go to Seminary?"
"What do you do now?"

The dialogue is more subtle. The dynamics remain the same. Two girls, strangers before, become friends.

Except the end result is no longer "Do you want to come to my house to play?"

These days the conversation can only have one conclusion. "What are you looking for?"

Pieces slot into place. It was meant to be, that Shulamit meet Karen tonight.

Shulamit saw that now. Because Daniel would be perfect for Karen. And Karen would be perfect for him. Shulamit could make another match.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Motzai Shabbos in Jerusalem


Brachy paused, halfway down the steps, and looked up at the mirror, suspended above her head, like a modern day moon. It was placed there so that the bus driver would be able to see the back door, but now it served her well, allowing her to check that her hair was still in place, her lip gloss hadn't smudged. She felt the passengers behind her shuffle impatiently, willing her to move, and so she gave a last glance as the shining orbit, and jumped off, onto the pavement below. She was in Jerusalem.

They'd told her she could catch the 6, they'd said that would be quicker. She hesitated, when she came to the number 1 bus stop, unsure what to do. The 1 may be a longer route, but it was familiar.

There was a man standing there, leaning on the metal wall. He had a short beard, he reminded her of Avner, although he wasn’t as tall as Avner, and was wearing the Chareidi uniform of black pants and white shirts. Avner had always been wearing T-Shirts and jeans, whenever she'd seen him. She knew this man wasn't Avner, but still she looked at him. He looked back at her. Neither of them smiled. She wondered what would happen if she did. She carried on walking.

It was almost at the end of the row; she saw a 6 on the yellow sign, and stopped. A boy stood by the sign. He was tall, and blonde, and gangly. He reminded her of the students bicycling at Oxford, of a character out of an F.Scott Fitzerald book. She knew he couldn't be from here.

"Does the 6 go close to the Kotel?" Brachy asked him, in Hebrew.

"I don't know" he said.

She'd known, even before he replied, that he would speak with a thick accent, that Hebrew was not his first language. She always started the conversation in Hebrew though, just in case. Because they were in Israel, after all.

"Where do you need to get to?" His friend stepped in, beside him.

His friend used English, straight away. He was dark, against the other's fairness. He had brown eyes. Brachy never noticed boys' eyes. Shulamit always asked her, "what color are his eyes?", when she came back from dates, as if that was the most important detail. Brachy never remembered. She couldn't remember what color Avner's eyes were either. She thought a pale color. But this boy's eyes were big and brown, and warm.

"To the Kotel. To the old city" she said to him. "Does the 6 go there? Someone told me it did?"

"It's a walk" he said, "ten minutes or so. The 21 stops closer. You'll need to walk through Yaffo gate"

She bit her lip, she twisted a loose brown curl of hair around her finger. She was scared to walk alone through the old city. She always got lost, on her own.

The number 6 bus came. The doors opened, people streamed through.

"Do you reach the old city?" Brachy asked the driver. She had one foot on the step, so he couldn't drive off. Her other foot she kept on the ground, so he couldn't close the door, and entrap her inside, take her to a place she didn't want to go to.

"Shlomtzion." He called to her, between the passengers crowding on, and handing over change.

Shlomtzion street was too far. It was a 20 minute walk from there, past Mamilla and through Yaffa gate, past King David's tower and through narrow alley ways.
She put both feet back on the street, and let the bus drive off. The boys had gotten off the bus too. They were back beside her.

"The 6 takes too long" The dark boy told the blonde one. "We're better off waiting for the 21."

The blonde one only nodded, looking at Brachy out of the corner of his eye.

"So, what are you going to do now?" The dark boy turned to Brachy with a smile.

She shrugged.

She recognized his accent, the pattern of his speech. Now was the time to ask him where he was from, play "Jewish Geography", find friends in common.

She saw a bus, come up behind them, and come to a standstill. She saw a line stretch out, in front of the doors. She saw the numeral 1, in red lights, above the front window.

She turned and ran.

Afterwards, sitting on the bus, beside a bulging woman wrapped up in scarves and shawls, Brachy wondered what the dark boy's name was. But it was too late to ask.
________

The Kotel was beautiful at night. An Israeli flag waved in front of it. The sky was a perfect midnight blue. Brachy felt peace here. She tried to breathe it in, to soak it up. She tried to let go, of the thoughts crowding her mind. She tried to hold on to just one thought, the one wish she'd come here to pray about.

Praying was hard work. Brachy understood why, out of the three pillars the world rested on, prayer was the 'Avoda', the labor. The women around her seemed to find it easy to pray, easy to turn to God, and feel his presence, and cry. For her it was more difficult.

She had too much cold Litvak blood running through her veins. Around her the women cried aloud, and shook backwards and forwards, faces buried deep in their Siddurs. They pressed her close to the wall, they surrounded her, with their sobs. Brachy ran her fingers along the stones, worn away by centuries, they were cold, and yet warm to her touch, soothing. She leaned forward and laid her lips against the crevices.

She opened her Siddur to pray. She would try her best.
________

Eventually you arrive back at the same place. It was almost midnight. Only one boy was sitting on the metal bench, inside the bus shelter. There was enough space to join him there. Brachy sat, leaving a large gap between them. There was no risk of an accidental touch.

The boy stood up. He was a Yeshiva boy. He probably didn't want to sit on the same bench as a girl.

Then he sat down again. He turned around, and looked at her. Brachy ignored him.
She felt a strange power here tonight. As if she could interest men, merely by glancing their way. As if she was in control. Was this what secular girls felt, all the time?

The Yeshiva boy worked up the courage to speak.

"How old are you?"

It was a good first question. Brachy was impressed. She didn't have much experience, at this sort of thing.

"How old do I look?" She smiled at him. Was this what they called flirting?

"Um. I don't know." He looked shy. "Over twenty."

"I'm a lot older than twenty" Brachy said. She smiled again. She was enjoying this.
"How old are you?"

"I'm almost twenty" he said proudly.

"Almost". She wanted to laugh. It was a long time since she'd used "almost" before her age, and tried to sound older.

"I'm twenty three." She said.

"Oh. Whoa."

Then Brachy remembered that she was twenty four. Tonight was her birthday. That's why she'd come here, to go to the Kotel, to pray on her birthday. She couldn't be bothered to correct him though.

There was silence.

"So…want to talk?" He wasn't giving up.

Brachy did want to talk. She wanted to ask him what it felt like to be nineteen still, what the world was like, before you started Shidduch dating. What it felt like to be a boy, and not a girl. Maybe he would tell her the truth.

But he was nineteen. Too young for her. And the bus arrived.

She examined herself in the window's reflection, as she stood on the step holding a bus ticket outstretched, waiting for the driver to punch a little star through it. She was no prettier than she'd been at nineteen. No boys had talked to her then. Maybe her body language had changed, the years of dating had paid off, and given her a patina of experience. She no longer looked away, no longer blushed. What was talking to one more man, following the hundreds? Maybe that's why now the bus stops, lining Binyanei HaUmah, suddenly seemed full of potential, more than she'd ever found in a hotel lobby.
________

At home Ima was waiting up for Brachy.

"Mrs. Sheiner is upset. She's still waiting for your answer."

"Why is she upset?"

"She's been waiting to hear from us. The boy is waiting to hear from us."

"Can't he wait some more?"

Brachy closed her eyes. She saw a dark face with warm brown eyes. She saw a Yeshiva boy, with shy eyes. She saw Avner's eyes. She remembered now, they were a greenish grey.

Then she saw a figure, in a black suit. He was sitting opposite her, in a lounge chair, in a hotel lobby. She couldn't picture his face, she hadn't met him yet.

But she would have to. She wanted to get married. This was the only way to do it, through blind dates, Shidduch dates, arranged by others. She couldn’t marry somebody she met directly, they would never be suitable.

She opened her eyes.

"I'll go out with him." Brachy said.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Chapter 21: The Photography Course

Brachy stood in the doorway. The sun beams slatted through the bars on the opposite windows, and fell on her dark hair, turning it a coppery red. Her eyes were large in her pale face, as she looked around the classroom, at the seats already occupied, at the desks covered with books and equipment. She stood still, not knowing what to do, where to go. There were many faces, looking back at her, some wearing scarves, hats, kippahs, some bare.

Avner thought she was quite beautiful. He'd been with so many girls, they were brash and obvious these days. The girl in the entrance looked young, fresh, naive almost. She appealed to him.

He picked up a rucksack from the chair beside him, and smiled at Brachy, gestured towards it.

Brachy would have preferred to sit next to a girl. It was bad enough to be attending a mixed course, she should try and stick with women as much as possible. That was the only free space though, beside that boy. Besides, it would be rude to refuse, when he was only being friendly.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Mythical Creatures: The Guys I Should be Dating

"What you need is a more modern guy. Someone open minded."

I'll scream if I hear that one more time. And not because it's not true.

"You need a more modern guy; not a standard Israeli Chareidi yeshiva boy; someone on the same wave length as you; someone who's seriously Frum, but still knows the world."

You all tell me that; my family, my friends, my blog readers.

But I've been saying the same thing for years. I need, I want, I'm looking for, a more modern guy.

And I'm willing, I'm wanting, I'm waiting to date him

There's only one problem. I can't find him.

Where are these wonderful, mythical, open minded guys? How do I meet them?

There are thousands of single yeshiva boys at Mir, hundreds more at Chevron. In Gruss, the Israel branch of the YU kollel, there are three single guys. That's right, three. (And I can't even get to those ones. So if anyone has any leads...)

There are almost no "modern" guys in Israel. Not above the age of nineteen that is. They come to yeshiva here for a year or two, and then they go back to the States, to college. If they ever return, it's as one half of a young married couple.

I could move to New York, hunt them down in their home habitat. But I want to live in Israel, so dating guys in Chutz LeAretz just doesn't seem like such a smart move. Meanwhile I'm left with the guys who are here, in the same country as me.

I grew up in Israel, went through the Chareidi educational system, mixed in the Chareidi world. My friends married guys from "black Yeshivas"; their husbands are now suggesting friends from the same yeshivas. They tell me the boys are "open minded", but usually that means that they "don't object" to me learning to drive, or that they watch movies in Bein Hazmanim. To me open minded encompasses a lot more than that.

I don't know if modern, open minded, guys exist in Israel. Perhaps it's a brand peculiar to abroad. True, in Israel there is Dati Leumi society, but that comes with different ideals, beliefs, Hashkafas. I wouldn't fit in there. There's no Yeshiva University style middle ground here.

There are some individual families living in Anglo Ghettos in Ramat Beit Shemesh and Har Nof. But I don't know what happens to their sons, their students. I haven't managed to find them.

Meanwhile I keep trying, with the only type of boys I'm ever suggested; boys from Mir, and Chevron, and Ateret. Boys in suits, and big black hats.

So if you think I need a more modern guy, fine, great. Find me one.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Pesach Story

She screamed JAP, Jewish American Princess, from the flat suede pumps to the black taffeta rosette clipping back blonde strands of hair. She walked with poise, too; heading directly to the table in the centre of the room.

Raizl watched the girl pile a plate high with cakes, selecting slices from each tray, layers of chocolate and mousse. She stifled feelings of annoyance. That little girl was acting as if she owned the place. She could only be nine, or ten, years old. Yet she strode around like a little queen.

"She's only a child", Raizl told herself, but still the feelings came.

Hatred was too harsh a word. Raizl kept track of the girl, as she circled the hotel dining room, backwards and forwards between tables, fetching drinks and desserts, bearing bounty back to the table where her family must be sitting.

Resentment, perhaps. Yes, that was closer to the truth. Raizl resented the girl, with her perfect outfit and complete confidence. Raizl was a grown up now, a married woman, but still, she would never possess that self assurance. To have it, you had to be born with it, to it, to that life.

Raizl didn't belong here. Others thought she did. She managed to fool them. After years of trial and error, she'd learned. What to wear, what to say, where to go, who to know.

But then she saw that little girl, bred from the birth with everything, only a child, but already educated in all of societies standards. She saw her, and remembered what she was lacking, what she'd missed out on, what she'd never have. And she tried not to be jealous.
___________

She recognized her by the flower. This time it was brown velvet, matching the brown pleated jumper dress. Raizl could see only her back, since the girl stood right by the Mechitza, in the center of the front row. Raizl always chose seats in the rear, by the side.

The moment approached, that time that Raizl had been half dreading, half waiting for; sadness mixed with sweetness.

The reading of the Torah ended. Around her women streamed out of the makeshift Shul, murmuring words of apology as they slipped passed her, pushing forward the chairs in front, while Raizl stood firmly in place, avoiding their eyes, not wanting to see what she might find in their gazes- Pity perhaps? Or relief that they were not in her place?

A few women remained inside with her. They were all older than she was, with starched short Shaitels, and faces already creased with lines. She was used to being the youngest, by now, after all these years.

Then Raizl saw the girl, in her dress and flower. She was still in Shul, still standing in the same place, by the Mechitza. She hadn't gone with the others. She stood rigidly straight, a prettily dressed little girl, among the old ladies.

Worlds can shift, in seconds.

Raizl wanted to hug the girl, to cradle her close and tell her to be brave, to hold her hand and tell her she understood. Instead there was silence, aside for the rustlings of pages, and the sounds of unspoken memories. Yizkor had begun.
___________

It was blue today, a bright peacock blue that Raizl spotted between shoulders and raised plates. The blue of the lace flower set off the sky blue of the girl's sweater. She looked as fashionable as always, with not a hair out of place, and the same confident lift of shoulders that Raizl had been envying all vacation.

Raizl watched her carefully choose cakes, filling up first one and then another plate. When she picked them both up, she faltered for a moment, losing her balance, trying not to drop the dishes.

Raizl put down her napkin and pushed back her chair. She half walked, half ran, across the room, to the little girl, and stretched out a hand, to help, to clear the way.

The girl looked up at her, with clear eyes, and the solemn look that Raizl had thought, before, was condescendence, then her lips relaxed for a moment, formed a soft half smile. She gave a nod, of thanks.

Raizl helped the girl carry the food back to where her mother waited, feeding the baby, trying to keep the little kids distracted. Because the girl was the oldest, the big sister. She needed to help, now that Abba was gone, she had responsibilities.

She reminded Raizl of herself, so many years ago. They were both fighters.

Monday, April 12, 2010

I need friends

I say the words, silently, hear them echo in my mind. There's no cause for self pity, but I do have to face the facts.

I need friends, new friends.

I'm a fresh yet quintessential loner. My free-time options are being home alone, or being in town alone.

I've perfected the art of eating alone; buying a French crepe on Ben- Yehudah, spread with chocolate and nuts, and nibbling at it as I window shop. That's better than finding an empty table at the pizza place, watching the other people there, eves-dropping on their conversations, while biting and chewing down a necessary supper as fast as possible.

How did I get here, to this lonely place? I may not be a social butterfly, but I'm no sociopath either.

And I do have friends! I consider printing it in bold marker pen letters on a folded piece of cardboard, placing it by me as I eat alone. "I have friends." Just they are married you see. Almost all of them. They can't hang out any more.

I never bothered to make new friends, when the old ones cleared the ranks. Because I didn't need new friends, my current ones were great, so what if they were married? Soon I'd be married too and we could go shopping for Shaitels together. Besides, changed marital status is no reason to end a friendship.

And when do I even have the time, the opportunity, for meeting new girls? Every spare moment, every gram of physical and emotional energy, goes on meeting guys.

I sometimes bump into girls my age, at Shiurim and in Shul. Though I should call them women; they are all married, usually pushing a stroller, or holding a toddler by the hand. They won't go hitchhiking across Europe with me, or even pop out for a milkshake. They are no more use than my old friends.

Perhaps there are single girls out there, hiding in the crevices. Perhaps I should search for them, set out on a mission. Perhaps I should even move from suburban-family-land to central-singles -city, and start bonding with female roomies.

The truth is though, that once I discovered the exciting and exotic other sex, with all its quirks and complexities and endless differences, well, girls just seem boring after that. Too like me. All you end up doing, with girls, is talking about guys.

But guys aren't the solution either. The guys I date, they come and go. The other guys, the platonic friendship ones, they often end up being complicated, or even just akward when I'm dating someone else. In any case, I can't go to Europe with a guy, I can't go shopping with him, or swimming at the beach.

I need friends, new friends, girl friends.

But I don't know where to find them. And I'm not trying very hard. Because I don't want them. I want a new guy friend. A husband friend. A friend who's forever.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bitter, Cynical and Desperate

I've disappeared for a while. Here's my excuse.

"Do me a favor, and don't ever show that to any guy you want to marry, OK?"

"Isn't it a bit late for you to be telling me this now? I already showed it to him." Not to mention to a few hundred blog readers. But she doesn't know about that.

"Oh, you were obviously trying to scare him off, last night."

"I was?"

"Yes. That story shows the worst side of you, the cynical side. It doesn't give a flattering picture of its author. Any decent boy who reads it will run a mile."

"You could have told me that when you read it."

"Well it is well written. But, sweetheart, I know you, you're not like that."

"I was trying to copy Dorothy Parker's style."

"But did Dorothy Parker ever get married?"

I don't remember the answer. I guess it's a no.

"Men don't want to marry Dorothy Parkers. Or Jane Austens. Good writers don't make good spouses."

I'm stunned. There goes my dream.

"Don't worry, when you're married you'll become softer."

I didn't realize I needed to become softer. I liked myself the way I was.

"But I'm writing the truth. Dating is like that." Of all people, I thought she'd understand. She's pretty critical herself of many things in the Shidduch world.

"It may be the truth, but there's no need to focus on the negative. You're telling him that you're desperate, and that's the only reason you're dating him."

Now I'm scared. "The character in the story isn't me!"

"Yeah, right."

Oh no. I hope he didn't think that too. Can’t I write about a single girl, without her being me?

"The only type of person who'll like your stuff will be bitter and cynical too. Is that the type of person you want to marry?"

I thought I'd learned how to let criticism run off me, like a river down stone, without penetrating. I thought I didn't care what people thought, I had enough inner confidence.

I guess it's different when it's someone you love, someone you've looked up to, your whole life, someone whose advice you usually follow.

For days I walked around with the same question. "Am I bitter, cynical and desperate? Does my writing sound that way?"

I asked everyone I knew who'd read my blog, or who'd read some of my writing. They said enough to make me laugh, to still the panic. They warned me I better get a cholera vaccine before I print my novel, because Jane Austen died of Cholera.

But I notice now, as the crumbs of Matza settle, that I haven't written since then, since that conversation. And maybe it's not just because I've 'been busy'.

I start writing a sweet little story, a story even Mishphacha would publish. "At least this story isn't cynical", I tell myself. Then I realize what I'm saying, what I'm doing. I get stuck half way through. The words feel corny. There's so much else I want to say. I miss writing. I miss blogging.

I've discovered another stage to growing up. It's learning that the people you love the most, even they can't always understand. They can be wrong about life, about you. You've just got to let go, and carry on, and do what you believe in.

Because I don't want to get married and start thinking life is a fairytale. I don't want to forget what dating was, what this stage was like. I want to remember, always. I want to be able to understand other people, to help other people, going through similar things. Not to begin spouting platitudes and becoming 'softer', and 'sweeter'.

So Shavua Tov, Blogosphere. I'm back.