Twisted up the highway towards Chicago. I was shocked at the monstrous size of the turquoise, blue waters of Lake Michigan, the July sun was baking hot and it made those waters even brighter. I bought a frisbee and hit the beach. I was so happy to be there I had never been at a beach in my whole life (except when I was a little kid) I was delighted. Something inside me came alive. To see the great waters coming in and out and the sun baking down on me and all the beautiful women. I saw so many good things all at the same time and I also wanted to be part of it. I wanted to be in it not just watching it. I wanted that life to be mine.
I found some girls on the beach and we played frisbee together. I was happy,they were hot, and my mind was in outer space.I knew that it was fun to be around attractive woman and that technically something really fun could develop, but my mind was so distant to being socially aware that I would have had, not the faintest idea of what to do. I was an adult in body, but more like a two year old in spirit. I had a lot of growing up to do, before I could ever even guess, how to become friends with a girl, guess what they might like or not, and at least having a shot at being fair and respectful. For now, that experience just tickled my fancy as to the vague possibilities of the changes that may be on their way. For now, I was a "normal" frum guy who was severely messed up, but just didn't want to admit it, so he was going about ignoring the degree of the pain to the best of his abilities.
I met some cousins in Chicago. I barely have any Jewish cousins, and these were my only frum Jewish cousins. I hadn't seen them in a while. I guess, I felt that, hey I"m running so far away from family, may as well say hello. How could I go by Chicago and not stop by. Their mother was not very happy with some of the changes she was seeing in me. She was, (perhaps not so unlike my mother )A baalas teshuva, who bought the whole deal plus 1000.We hadn't seen each other for five or ten years.The first thing she said to me was "no tzitzis?" Mind you, it was boiling beyond hell outside, and I don't even know if I brought them with me or not, but I hate those people who ignore any of your emotions because they know that what scripture says, is the ultimate truth, not how you feel. I knew for sure at that moment, that she and I would not ever know each other very well.
I went out with her sons for a walk. I have no idea what she thought I was doing, or what I would be saying, but she ended up looking for us with her car at night, and when she found us, she chased us, with her van, down the side walk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had never seen anything like this. I just got out of there, no goodbye, no nothing. Time to move right along.
Fire flies and open fields of Corn as I sped through Iowa. I stayed at a Chabad house. He was nice. A little too Jewish but I saw some new things about Judaism that I hadn't seen before. Endless cows as I went through Nebraska. Stayed at my fathers friend for a night. I had heard good things about him. He was not orthodox, but the funny thing, was that all he had to do was make one comment and I knew it was time for me to leave. I saw that he was made out of the same material as my father,"the be careful attitude" "Don't do anything that might get you killed" or better, don't do anything. I knew now, that this was my chance to live and all that had been taught to me, had just hurt, and now it was my turn to find what worked instead of what didn't. I had to try to figure out for myself what would make this man, this boy, this spirit happy. I would either succeed or I would have to die trying but there was no going back.
The gas peddle did not stop until I was so tired that I couldn't move. I had to keep moving. I felt the freedom coursing through my blood. I knew that I was doing the right thing and that I was on the way to something good. The rains came down IN buckets through Wyoming it was 1:00 I
I had called a Chabad house in Salt Lake, it was now thursday mo
I left Nebraska early, it was now Thursday morning. I had to get to Salt Lake by Shabbos, that meant I had to push on as fast as I could. As the I 80 took a twist into Wyoming, I was introduced to another part of me that had never been awake. My eyes gulped down the glorious shapes and curvatures of the colorful red rock and the clean giant cliffs jutting out of the ground, the new and peculiar desert vegetation made me feel all kinds of newness and exploration that I had never felt before. My bones began to sing, and something in me was beginning to remember how much it liked the earth and it's colors, the sky and its shapes. I was beginning to feel again, I was even beginning to sing again, inside, yes just a little bit, but I was beginning to know something that had once been so natural, the desire to look, to gaze, to notice, to take in what is being seen. Shouldn't that be so natural? What am I missing? How did this happen? How did I forget my natural instincts? Can my desire ever awaken? Is there still a human in me? Is there? I am here, I am ready to hear you, now.
That night the rains came down like hell, I pushed on. At 1:00AM, I realized, I literally could not see anything. I pulled into a Sheraton Parking lot, put my seat back and hit the sack for a a couple of hours.
Traveling through the desert was hot like hell. I had never experienced heat that wicked and intense. I had no air conditioner. I would buy ice and put it on my heat just so that I wouldn't fall asleep, pounding Hershey's Chocolate and Resees peanut butter cups, enough to make up for 26 years of not having them. (not cholov yisroel)
For five years, after that desert ride, my left arm would have a sun burn scar because it was in the hot sun for so long.
As I came over the mountains into Salt Lake City, I beheld something so majestic that my heart sank and leaped and sang again. These snow capped palaces that rose high into the sky, made me feel so small and comforted. Somehow in their height, the burden of my heart didn't seem as painful.
When I arrived at the Chabad house in Salt Lake, I couldn't move. I just collapsed onto the bed. I was out. When I awoke, all was dark. I knew it was late. I knew I was unconscious, but I had no idea how long I had slept for. I needed that sleep. Who knows? That may have been the first peaceful sleep that I had ever had. It was a great bed, that is for sure. I still remember it.