Eight years ago today, 350 people milled about several decorated hotel banquet rooms. I wore a custom-designed pearl-white dress with transparent sleeves and beaded cuffs.
My favorite part was the bedecken, an ancient Jewish ritual where the groom confirms that he is marrying the right bride. (Oh, what a loaded statement!) Avy was in a far room with the rabbis, our fathers, and a smattering of other men. They sang nigguns and banged their hands on the tables and then our mothers broke a china plate wrapped in a big white napkin. The pieces were given to single people who wanted to get married, as a gift of good luck.
Then, the musicians played some klezmer-style fast beat, and the crowd of men danced Avy down a crowded carpeted hallway to me. I sat on a throne, all the important women in my life surrounding me. My veil hid my face. My heart thumped loud and fast.
When he reached me, he lifted my veil, stroked my face, and our foreheads met. The crowd roared. Then he danced away.
I had several least favorite parts, but they don’t matter anymore. Eight years have passed and the marriage has ended. I was never so attached to my anniversary, though relatives sent requisite cards and my parents always bought us a gift. It seems we were always too busy or Avy was out of town to really celebrate together. Or maybe we just weren’t that enthusiastic about doing so. A sign, definitely, in retrospect.
Last night, I had intended to photograph a yoga class for a client but instead ended up bending and twisting in yoga poses I’d done before but which seemed very new to me. Cantor Michael Smolash from Temple Israel led a band of seven in a live performance of rousing Jewish music while the room of people, come there for so many reasons and connected by a desire to seek enlightenment in some new way, leaned and stretched.
Every teacher brings a new perspective to the same old lessons. Last night, in poses I know well, the teacher I’d never listened to before kept pointing out the metaphor of our physical state. One hand reached forward while another hand was angled toward what was behind us. Somewhere in between, we were standing still, in the present, learning to be there and empty our minds of everything but that single moment.
Reaching ahead. Looking back. Standing still.
All that has happened brings us to this moment. Then we push forward to what is yet unseen, knowing anything could lay ahead in front of us.
The lights were low, the songs familiar. Similar to the repetitious refrain of Jewish songs I’ve heard other times, in other places, believing then that my path was absolute and directed, not knowing what I was walking toward.