A couple months ago I called an Uberpool to take me to work....and when I opened up the door, who was sitting snug as a bug in a rug? A real life curly q Heimish! Now, even though I live with and see them almost every day, it's like we are living in two separate universes. They usually seem to look right through me, and refuse to smile, nod, wave, or make casual conversation at the post office, grocery store, the M train whenever our paths may cross...
So I enlisted my dear friend Zev who actually was raised in an Orthodox Jewish community to help me understand better the claims this wonderfully nice man made to me that rainy day, namely, no one who leaves the cult of the Orthodox could be happy. I called him one day while he was driving up to Dream land, the promise land he's building for himself, a lakeside community he's creating with all his amazing friends, sitting next to his gorgeous blonde 24 year old european girlfriend who has a smile that could knock the keepah right off your head....to ask him for and insiders perspective behind the iron Tallit.
Once as a punishment when I was bad, my parents sent me to live with a Hasidic family, and it left a vicious mark on my 12 year old psyche. It was akin to stepping into a time portal into the literal past: no electronics, no books, no color, all business. They had 12 children, I slept in the room with the littlest one was was 3 who had hair to his shoulders and I kept confusing him for a girl which made me super unpopular with the rest of the house especially the Mother who basically took all my clothes the first day and threw them out replacing them with drab cement colored wool numbers that erased any body silhouette and left you looking like a cylinder block. However I wasn't too bothered because I just kept imagining I had been cast in a real life version of Fiddler on the Roof and soon the curtain would come down and I would return back into my life of sin.
ANYWAY I've been thinking a lot about happiness, community, religion and my own personal relationship with the culture and beliefs on which I was raised. As I continue to force myself to mature, I'm trying to lay to rest my childish anger towards the sadness and judgement I felt coming from my fathers very religious parents who consistently would tell me things like "You'll never understand our sacrifice or the true meaning of family..." and were consistently disgusted by my appearance, clothing, and zest for exploration outside what I felt to be prison like walls Judism erected around sexuality, freedom and choice. I used to argue with her, for hours, about the existence of God. I never believed and because of that, she thought I was a disrespectful spoiled Americanized disgrace. One of the last things my grandmother ever told me before erasing me from her will and life (when I was 14) was that I would never understand what love meant.
But she was wrong. Because it turns out, you can find and manifest love every where you go. As always I am so grateful to Zev for allowing me into his brain to understand the world in which he comes from. Because regardless that we've pretty much forsaken the god from which we came from, we are happy. So take that miscellaneous Hasidic guy.