Today began with purple-gray clouds and cool breezes that smelled of rain. I met a friend to walk along a tree-covered dirt road, perfumed with the scent of spring blooming. There is an edge to the air today but it’s a rounded edge, one that doesn’t cause me to shrink back, but rather to pull it close.
Yesterday, I walked two miles to a friend’s house for Shabbat lunch. I sat at their rectangular table for hours, eating plates full of salads. Israelis who are moving to a house on the Golan Heights in a month, my friends prepare food with the love and attention of the Holy Land – thinly sliced onion, half-moons of avocado, tiny pungent bits of hot pepper, and beautiful rounds of cucumber. There was meat slow-cooked and long-flavored; roasted potatoes; calm innocuous rice; a pot of slender cooked green beans; and for dessert, homemade coffee ice cream.
I walked home in the rain, but it didn’t bother me. My face open to the sky, under the light patter of raindrops, I wished a man in a black hat and black suit “Shabbat Shalom” and he answered back, neither of us in a hurry to escape the elements.
Many people have commented on how “naked” I am in this blog. I’ve been a writer all my life, so it is possible I no longer have a filter. Perhaps I don’t know how to keep secret the private details of my life as society dictates is appropriate.
But I’ve never been fond of rules. The words I write here don’t feel particularly revealing, even if they are. There is an assumption to the assertion that it is a bad thing to be emotionally naked before others.
I don’t think so. The only reason one might be uncomfortable naked before others would be if that person is uncomfortable in her own skin. To take the metaphor to its expected end, I recognize the flaws in my body, but I still smile when I stand naked before the mirror, noticing contours and flaws, scars from illnesses and injuries long past and flab that comes from being human.
It doesn’t embarrass me to be naked in front of the world because I love my body. I’m talking metaphorically as much as literally – I’m not a workout fiend, mind you; I am supremely human. And still, I don’t only merely live in myself; I revel in the gifts and warts alike that I have been given, that I have developed, that I have adopted. I reveal what I am comfortable sharing with the world. Many of my friends have suggested that what I put out there is too much of me. I don’t mind, you see, because I’m solid.
We Americans, and women in particular, have kept ourselves hidden for so long. We marvel at children in their ability to be real as much as we shush them when they scream in a restaurant or point a finger and say loudly, “That woman looks strange, Mommy!”
Would that we all could be as true to our feelings and instincts all the years of our lives.
I go to court on Tuesday to become officially divorced. I am sure you will hear from me after that, and I don’t know whether those words will be laced with pain or regret or sadness or elation. I’m thinking maybe a bit of all of these emotions, and others I have yet to experience.
We will keep this conversation going because connection is the lifeblood that runs through us all, that allows us to sleep soundly at night and wake with bright faces each morning.
Today, I began my day with good company, fresh air, strong coffee, and the knowledge that I am not alone in the world. Tomorrow is another day. A gift waiting to be opened, its red ribbon gleaming in the light.