I had been speaking to Dina for a couple of months now ever since I had decided to move to California. She had been a good friend of my father. I had never met her but she seemed really kind and I needed some really kind people. She was my goal. I was looking forward to meeting her. she was one of the only people I knew in California and I had been looking forward to meeting her. I had come in to Palo Alto, too late last night in order to call her. I slept in my car and when I got up the next morning I was looking forward to meeting her. This would be my first meeting with someone who I knew I liked. She knew my family, she had known my father. she had known how I had grown up. I didn't want to have to explain my pain each time. I just wanted to be someplace that resembled home. Looking back, I yearned for a home. I had never really known home. I had never known the feeling of walking into a place where I felt welcomed, and even thought it would take many years until I got some of that trust back, in Dina's home, I did feel some sense of relaxation, some sense of being ok with who I am and that there was room to explore and experiment, perhaps just to wonder about the nature of things, without alarms going off, or land mines going off.
Her family was nice, it was surprising. Not a lot of drama, not everything was an issue, they actually talked to each other and listened. What a phenomenon!!!!!! Her husband was the softest, most gentle and relaxed person that I have ever met. If I would have heard of pot, I would have suspected that he had a hidden marajuana IV. I just felt so out of place not being threatened by something all the time. What was so wrong with a little bit of sanity. Dina told me I could watch some TV if I wanted, the first feeling was "you won't mind, you wont think I'm wasting my time if I just sit and watch something?".
The most memorable thing she said was "What do you think about it?". We must have been discussing some kind of issue, and I must have been asking many questions about it, so that I could understand and she responded by saying "What do you think about it?" I was surprise, What do you mean, what do I think about it. I had never been asked that before, you mean to say that is an acceptable way to respond to an inquiry? It was something so small, but it was so refreshing to be asked by an adult, for me to tell them my thoughts on an issue. I was so happy to hear that there were people like this who actually valued what I thought about a given issue. This was the beginning of my caring what was going on inside me, and also to care what was going on inside of others.
Looking back, it's amazing to me, that I was still so nailed to the frumkeit night mare that I would not stay with them for shabbos, even thought they did something. I had to look up an OJ Rabbi in Palo Alto and stay with him, chas vi shalom to be around people who weren't frum for shabbos. I did go to shul with them on some kind of holiday or something and I remember seeing woman with Tefilin, and Talis and this definitely was different. "Why don't they just forget about the whole thing?" I thought, if you don't want to be frum, why don't you women just forget about Tefilin?!!!!!!! I couldn't understand why someone would want to forge a new path that gave them more problems and gave them more things to do!! At this point, I was looking at Jewish practice as something that one tried to get away from and tried to do as little as possible of, and not something that one tried to bring on ones self. Why in heavens name, would these women try to add obligations onto themselves? Be happy that you don't have it in the first place, and don't make things more complicated for yourselves. Of course, I also thought that they were wrong and that their conclusions were krum (twisted) and that their way of observing Judasim was wrong.
My ride down the coast to Southern California was majestic. It was the first time I had been exposed to the long endless expanse of the sunny Pacific. The waters seem to shine and glitter as much as the sun, and my mind and eyes were spending a dangerously large amount of time taking in these large open spaces and bright lights, while I should have been keeping my eyes on the winding twirling curves of the Pacific coast highway. Yes, now I was beginning to feel some soothing and warm feelings inside. I was excited to see what would happen next, keenly aware that there was really no chance that I had left my irritable anxiety-riddled self back in NY.
Of course, I could feel it with me. I knew that I was with me all along. I had known for the longest time that there was no way that I could ever run away from what was in my body. I knew that part of who I was, would always be with me. How could I live? I of course, enjoyed to hope, play with the idea that a change of location would leave some of those very unpleasant feelings, and parts of me behind. Didn't that make sense? I if I have traveled 3000 miles, something has got to change, no? This couldn't be for nothing. Part of me tried to drown out these thoughts, part of me just welcomed the warm, healing California sun. "Come sun, come into me and clean, and warm, and add light to all those places that have hurt me for so long"
I knew that a little bit of sunshine, could only make things better, maybe just a little better, but I didn't care, as long as I was beginning to feel better.
I still loooooooooooooove the California sun.
and the winding twirls of the Pacific coast Highway almost tossed