Everything is alright on seder night.
I know I’ve written before about the emotions associated with the holidays for me. Living away from my family and closest friends makes the holidays especially challenging some times. Every major holiday I’m faced with options:
1. Spend it alone – this is usually what happens. Israel is so family oriented that everyone spends the holidays at home. This usually means an over crowded table, people in a stressed state, and a lack of awareness of anyone else around. Of course, significant others are considered family here so I’ve been waiting and hoping for the day I’m with someone who wants to allow me to share his family, if only a couple times a year. That, obviously, hasn’t happened yet. So, as the city quiets down and people gather around their mom’s table, I am usually home, alone, thinking about what I would be doing if I were in the US.
2. Travel – this is a great option if you can afford to do it. Sadly, with moving apartments on the horizon, traveling just isn’t something I can afford right now (or ever really). Plus, if traveling means going back to the states for holiday, I have a hard time justifying a week in a place I don’t enjoy for a night of family and tradition (just to avoid being alone on the actual holiday). It seems extreme to me.
3. Spend it with the random person who invites you in for the night – this is what I used to do when I first moved here. I felt that it was important to be with people on the holidays instead of being alone. I was wrong. Numerous holidays were ruined for me by strangers assuming I’m some kind of idiot because I don’t speak Hebrew, pop quizzing me on Jewish things to prove that I know what’s going on, conversations that didn’t include me, and food that I had to force down in the name of being polite. Last year, a colleague invited me to her cousin’s house for the Passover Seder and I was stuck there for HOURS while her crazy family did the WHOLE hagada. And the food was terrible on top of it.
4. Hope and pray that a real friend invites you to spend the holiday with them – on the rare occasion this happens, it can be tricky. People are self conscious about their families and sometimes you see a side of your friend you didn’t know was there… But, usually, your friend’s family is your family when the invite comes and the night is warm and open. This has only happened three times in my tenure of living in Israel and every time has been better than the previous.
Tonight, Layla Seder, my original plan was stay home alone. Maybe I’d make a small pot of matzoh ball soup and a chicken salad sandwich, but I’ve learned that it’s better to be alone and let the holiday wash over me than it is to be with strangers for the sake of being with people. I know some people going to a community seder for new olim, a few teachers have invited me to join them with their families (including the same family from last year), but I chose to decline every invitation. I kept telling people I had plans with friends, as to not hurt their feelings by saying I’d rather be alone.
Then, magically, my very close friends Bella and Alex invited me to go with them to Bella’s mom’s house for the seder. I jumped at the opportunity! Having plans for the holidays that I’m actually excited about, feeling as though I’m not going to be with strangers, and being welcomed in not as a sympathy “we don’t want you to be alone” invitation is an amazing feeling. It really has shown me what good friends I’ve made here and how they really have become my family. The ones who have kept me at arm’s length have more or less faded into the background, but my real friends – people like Bella, Alex, Ben, and him – these are the best people in the whole world and I am lucky to be able to count them as my friends.
Update on him: saw him last night, had a great night with lots of great sex. I’m physically bruised with bite marks today, just the way I like it! But we did sort of decide that this was it for awhile. He didn’t want to have sex at first and I kept pushing and pushing, like I do. He started by saying just simply “it’s not a good idea.” Then, “I’ll touch you but we’re not going to have sex.” Then after some verbal encouragement from me, the clothes came flying off and we spent the next 2 hours in tangled bliss. I’m not proud of it, but if the sex that came out of the pushing is going to be it for awhile, that’s fine. It was good and fulfilling. Is that it forever? No. Obviously. But, it will be it physically for awhile, I think. We already have plans on Monday for him to help me with my apartment hunt. We also have already promised to keep our hands to ourselves when we see each other on Monday. Listen, I have no excuses for my behavior. Things are complicated and messy. That’s life. I’m not sorry this keeps happening. I treasure my time with him.
On that note, hag sameach (happy holiday) to everyone! Hug your loved ones a bit harder tonight and be grateful you have each other. Now is a time for thankfulness, not regret or envy.