Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My first shabbos (who am I? I have no idea who I am)

Now it was time to do what I had been pushing off all along. I needed to see Gavi. He was the reason why I was here. I needed a friend. I needed to know that I wasn't alone. I needed to know that I wasn't crazy. I needed to know that I was human. How could I be so far from anything real? He had become an assistant Rabbi of shul, and I hadn't seen him since I came to town. Although I knew that he was kind and caring and would help me start again, my helpless state had me think of only the worst thoughts about how anyone could possibly perceive me. How could anyone like me? I hated me, so I couldn't possibly imagine anyone seeing anything redeemable in me. I hadn't seen Gavi for a couple of years now. What would he think? Worst of all, deep inside I knew what I wanted. I wanted someone to take away my pain. "Heal me" That's what I really wanted, but I also knew that that was impossible that is simply not the way things worked. Somehow, I would need to be the one to experience the pain and heal me, no one else could do that and I hated that. That meant to say that all of my pain, regardless of how much I thought, believed that they were caused by others, could not, simply be given back to others. They were mine now, a permanent gift. There was nothing I could do but sort through what had been given to me and see how I could get rid of it little by little. It seems, like I had somehow chosen to believe all the destinies and beliefs that were shoved into me, and now the only way to undo the this disorientation was to examine, each belief, each experience and cough up its particular poison one drop at a time.

I knew where Gavi's shul was. As I stood outside, I had one of the most excruciating crisis that I had ever had and ever would have. I needed to face, at that moment, all of what was in me and the degree to which I had no idea what was in me. You see, I had come to California, wanting sex. I had this idea that as soon as I would arrive all the lady's would come running towards me happy to give me my first sexual experience. I also had this idea in my mind from when I was very young that girls and boys who grew up "modern orthodox" had more sex. I was about to walk into a shul that would be considered modern orthodox. I imagined that these young men and women were more comfortable having sex and thus, in my mind, it was likely that, I would probably meet girls here with whom I could have sex. The funny thing was that all these memories of what modern orthodox meant and the hopes of what that may bring me, were so old and antiquated, that, looking back it's a little scary to think that it was those kinds of thoughts and beliefs that were components in this very minor decision that I was about to make, considering the fact that my impression of MO, came from when I was 12 and I was now 26.

As my mind continued to think about the moment when I would make my first appearance in Gavi's shul, I thought about the fathers of these young women. What would they think of me? What would they think of me having sex with their daughters? My mind had been on such a distant planet for so long, that it did not actually calculate that these young women had fathers who may mind if I had sex with their daughters. The entire world of sex was so distant to me. I had, at this point, barely ever watched a movie or TV show, I really had no idea how sex was had in the world. I didn't know who had it? where they had it? why they had it? or how they had it? I just knew that I had been thinking about it, and obsessing about it a lot for about 14 years, and now I was going to do anything I could to try to get me some. I just needed to know how. Looking back, my mind was so unsure about the whole subject and so underexposed that, all these thoughts that I say now are more like the sediment, the left overs, vague impressions of an immature and anti-social child, that picked up scraps of information from various clandestine and haphazard, sources, and never from any source that was straight forward, mature, or healthy.

So, as I stood there outside of the shul, I wondered, how should I walk in. How should I present myself? Should I wear a yarmulka? Should I wear this cap I had brought with me? If I wear a yarmulka, they may think I am frum. I don't want them to think I am too frum because, then it will be a chilul hashem if I have sex with their daughter. They will be disappointed with me. I was concerned about this at every level. My brain was filled with gemara and that's all it had in it. Sooner or later they would find out that I was a talmid chacham and that I was now not taking my learning or practice so seriously. I had a lot of shame about that. How could I possibly explain this too them? How would they understand? Even I didn't understand what was happening. How would I possibly make sense for myself or for another out of the fact that here I was a talmid chacham and now I didn't care about my learning? Now I wanted sex. Looking back, the pain and confusion was so fresh that my identity had no idea who it was or what could possibly expect to happen now. I stood there outside the shul, trying to think of how I wanted to show myself. " If I walked in now with a yarmulka" I thought " then I have to keep it on, for as long as I live in this city" What would they think if they see me now with a yarmulka ,and then in a couple of weeks they would see me without one?

Inside, I was struggling with an even more painful reality. I knew that I had come to the ocean with the intention of being free from the constant evaluation and judgement of my community. I wanted to change and experiment freely. Now, here I was so many miles away from "home" and still doing the same thing, still evaluating my every move, based on what this new community may think. How would I ever become free of this?

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