I was shocked to hear that kind of sureness come from inside me. Who was that talking? where did that come from? I had always known myself as this shy kid who always backed away from anything and everything. would you like to play ball? No, I can't. would you like to join us and go to the park? No. I never knew how to do anything because I was afraid of what it would feel like to use my arms. I felt everything so strongly that any kind of attempt to do anything was full of so much worry, that even pondering a decision was a disaster. I was usually most comfortable distant from any decision of thought about one. So for years, I sat and watched the world happen, as many moments, opportunities for experience left, and moved on while my heart begged me, hurt me, demanded of me to make a move. "do something!!!!!!!" it demanded, but I knew better, I knew the dangers of doing anything and that as long as I stayed, as long as I was right where I was, nothing could possibly go wrong.
Now there came a day when my heart would no longer be that way and would demand of me to do something with such assertion that it would have me question all of who I thought I was with regard to capability, bravery and risk taking.
I had been talking to Avi. He had moved to California a year ago, and he was my life line, there was hope in his words and I starved for those moments when we could talk. He knew something that I wanted to know and he was living in a way that I wanted to live and the fact that I had known him in yeshiva, and the fact that he had known and learned all the scary pieces of knowledge that I had learned, and somehow he was still able to live and breath with himself, gave me hope. I wanted that. I wanted to believe that it was possible for me to have hope. I wanted to hear that it was possible for me to have a life that had any semblance of normalcy and pleasure because right now it was inconceivable.
Although I was still frum, I felt myself torn apart from all sides. I wanted to go back to the world of learning but my body wouldn't let me. I wanted sex, but I had no idea how to get it. I also felt the fear and awkwardness that comes with being a man of marriageable age and being so distant from any frame of mind that had anything to do with being an adult. I had no idea how to work, and I surely didn't have a career. I was worried and scared all the time and most of the time I didn't even know why. My heart and mind were sickly loaded with thousands if not millions of questions that had never been asked, and wantings that had never been experienced, seasons of childhood and adolescence that had never been felt. The voices of all these demands would not let me live anymore. They were literally killing me from the insider. They would not let me make another move unless I promised that I would listen. They were serious and so was I . I was positive that I would keep them at bay. I would have them sleep until they went away. Didn't someone once say that? If I ignored them, they would go away? Huh? Not quite. Not these thoughts. Maybe a while ago, maybe ten years ago, but now they were done. Under most circumstances people have a choice. Now, i was not given a choice. I must listen to my inner demands is what I was being told and there was no way out.
The scary thing was that I had no idea what it would ask of me. I had a keen sense that it would be matters and issues that had been worrying me for so long. I had the notion that it may be a whole string of events, and sadness, and missings, and wantings and demands and joys, and adventures that it had been missing all this time. I also knew that I just couldn't let this all develop right here in the frum community. I had no idea what I was about to become or where it would take me. What if I wanted to be a little more modern? How would it ? what would my principal (my ex-boss) think of me. "One year he's a Rebbe, next year he's gone" I didn't want to be viewed as a fraud. I was also concerned about my reputation. I had had a reputation as a serious learner, a masmid, and that took a long time to build. I couldn't just toss that out with a single motion of putting on a nitted yarmulka. what if I wanted to come back and become a ben toirah? Now they all view me as some confused son of a b*tch. That would be really good for shidduchim I'm sure, and lord knows, it all evolved around trying to secure a good shidduch. These were big decisions. Ok do I could go to a "distant place" "dress in black" and do what I want and then come back, but I wasn't sure if my Rabbeim would understand, and keep me at the same level of esteem that they had had for me, before I "dressed in black" (Nice gemara, but doesn't translate into the practical world really well).
I knew, at least on some level that I just had to get out of here. I needed to go far away in order to see what was inside. Once I knew what was inside, I could do whatever I wanted to do. I would at least know what this monster looked like. I knew it wouldn't be fun, but I knew it was the only way, so one night while on one of my complaining phone-sessions with Avi, he said "why don't you come out here to California?" I had never thought about California. The way mind worked, it could only think about very few things, and only about their most elementary ramifications. I had been to Connecticut. I had been to New Jersey, but my mind just didn't think that far, that wide. It simply didn't have the tools to think the distance of New York to California, but somehow, as soon as Avi posed the question, my mind was "Sure, I'm there".
Every answer to every questions, both those that I could put words to, and those that were so distant from my consciousness, all found their solution, their resolution, in one hope, one word, "California".