Wednesday, April 19, 2006

It's been a while...

... a lot's happened.

First, of course, it's the middle of Pesach, and I cleaned (with assistance) my whole house and changed the pots and bought crazily-hecshered food. We had two great sedorim - there's something fascinating about seeing another family's minhagim, and I hung out with family and friends and ate far too much matzah.

I'm in Cheadle - second half only - and have had a great time with my nephews (J told me today his favourite sports are prickitt and goff). They are very excited I'm here, and it's nice to feel loved and wanted, especially by cute kids. We played jenga. We played computer games. We went to shul.

But, there's still something sad about coming back here. Well, to the shul, really. In my mind Cheadle - Yeshurun - is this mythic community, the place I grew up in, that spawned a generation of incredibly talented, creative people. The crowd I grew up with are actors, film directors, musicians, DJs (as well as a fair smattering of barristers and doctors), and I remember - possibly through rose-tinted glasses - a perfect childhood, a perfect community, a perfect shul. It's like every community I get involved with in adulthood is benchmarked against my warmest memories.

But being here now, it's not the same. Most people don't keep the end of Yom Tov - shul was empty. The chazzan was amazing, but contentious (you kinda love or hate that old-fashioned operatic chazzonus). The rabbi was a little shouty (but then rabonim often are). I see my parents and their friends, doing the work in the community that they were doing twenty or thirty years ago, and I don't see the next generation stepping up, and I wonder what will happen.

Also - in a minor way - it took a little time to recover from that gastro bug. Stomach still a little sensitive, not helped by too much matzah.

But what's been in the back of my mind since a week last friday is - and this is going to sound silly, so I'm sorry - my relationship with G-d (which I am still inclined to write that way, even though it's not a piece of paper).

As I get older, I think I have more... faith/connection... whatever you call that. There seem to be reasons for things, and for the things we don't really understand, some kind of context. But - and I don't mean this selfishly - I lost a friend, Melissa, someone I'd been in my Jewish women's group with for fifteen years. Later, I might write more about her, because I'd like to write some kind of ... testament to who she was and what she did. But for now, all I can think about is how unfair it is that someone in their thirties, with a husband and small child, how unfair is it that this should happen. And I feel angry that the good people sometimes get taken, even though I know it doesn't work that way. At least, I think it doesn't work that way.

So, I've been thinking a lot about M, and the life she lead, the things she did, and what it all means. Something of a crisis of faith, almost. Coupled with my shul-dilemma (whole separate conversation), I've been working out anew what I think, what I believe, what's important.

Of course some people know this already.

Until I work it out - and let's face it, this could be a while - I guess I just have to count my blessings. I'm lucky to have wonderful people in my life (hello, D), be part of two warm communities and a lovely family, have interesting work, a self-employed lifestyle that is pretty stress-free compared to my corporate days, time to write(sometimes), a lovely garden, which makes me very happy as I look out of my office window (once I was on the phone in the summer to an investment banker in New York and he said to me "are you, like, in the park?"), and a degree of... creativity/personal wherewithall/I know not what to call it that means I can enjoy every day for what it is.

I don't mean to be boastful. Of course my life isn't perfect, but I think I don't stop often enough to notice what I've got, so I am.

Like I said, interesting times.

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