So 31 is not as exciting of a birthday as 21. I’ve been thinking about this today, that basically there isn’t really another milestone birthday for 10 or 20 more years. 30 was a big one, as it is seen as “an adult”, but 31 is well, kinda just a number that is greater than 30.
So looking back on this past year. Well, if I must have a word for this past year, I think it would be transition (or moving; or change). I started out my year of 30 in NY, starting a new school. I knew that this past year I was going to have to move. And so I spent a month in my new school, met the new women that I would be learning with. Went back to Israel knowing that I would have to leave my job and my apartment and my friends- and that is what I did. It was sad to have to leave everything. It really felt like the end of an era, and that I was leaving everything that was keeping my life stable.
My job was part of me. Anytime anyone thought of old people, I was the first person that came to mind, and so I was able to bring in great volunteers. But I think it was more than that, the residents became a mix of family and friends to me. It was hard for me to know that there is a good chance that I would never see them again. And I wanted to express everything that they had given me. It was really moving to hear from them and from the other staff members about how much I gave to them.
My friends became like my family. It is what happens when you make aliyah (or move to another country) without any family. It is your friends who help you when you are sick or in a bad place. It is your friends that you celebrate with. It is your friends who join you for Shabbat and holiday meals. And I had to say goodbye to everyone and move away. [I see my stint in OZ different as this was something I wanted, and it actually is short-term, I know when I am moving back.]
And my apartment that was my home. Not only was it my home, but it was also a community center. I helped start a community, and my house was the location for almost all of our programs. My house was the place that held sheva brachot and engagement parties. My house held a minyan. My house held a beit midrash. My house was a place that people felt welcomed, and knew that if I (or my roommate) was cooking there was always an extra seat at our table. And that house I had to give up.
30 was also the year that I actually had a relationship. It ended badly, unfortunately. But I found a way to let someone else in. It was a shame that I left the country- although looking back, it probably would have ended for other reasons if it was not for that. It was great though to find someone who I could feel comfortable with, both mentally and physically.
I also had/have a fascinating very personal/intimate conversation. Something that I have never had before. Between the relationship and this conversation, I have realized how little I think or have paid attention to my body. I do think that in some ways it is lacking. I think that for so long my I have been in my head and so I pushed myself to ignore my body. Almost as if I did not have time for it (or maybe I actually did not have time for it).
I did my first unit of CPE. Working as a hospital chaplain I met many people. I felt like it was really the start of feeling comfortable with my soon to be role. It was amazing to be in a setting that I was encouraged and supported again. I really missed having that feeling, and it is still so clear how hurtful the program I left was. Through the summer I realized that there are skills that I have that I just take for granted. I realized that there are actually a lot of skills that I already posses, I am not starting with nothing. I found a way to make being a chaplain my own – seeing the importance of speaking and interacting with everyone; found ways to speak about prayer and to create prayers with people; found ways to sit with people in their times of distress and pain.
And here I am now, sitting in Canberra, Australia. This I never would have ever even thought would happen. I am here and doing the job that I want to be doing. I am teaching classes, meeting people, helping to run a shul. The community is amazingly warm. Here the community/shul found and pays for my apartment, my phone, my internet, my move, and they give me a salary. At the shul, the secretary sets up my class room and puts things into my calendar. [When I spoke to my grandmother today, all she kept on asking was if I could imagine anything better and she kept on telling me how proud she is of everything that I am doing. Her blessing to me was that my life continues to be this good.] Will I ever have another experience where everything I need is taken care of for me? Will I ever have this type of job but full-time?
So now looking to 31. I am starting out my year in Australia. And as of right now, I will then be moving back to NYC. I will, please God, be getting ordination in June. This will (at least for now) be my last year as a formal student, which is both exciting and terrifying. I feel ready to have a real job and to not be a student, but at the same time there is a lot of safety in being a student that I will no longer have. I think that between the hospital and now here in Canberra, I am actually becoming more comfortable with the role, and having more confidence that I am actually able to hold that role. And then comes June, I do not know what is next. I want to go back to Israel, but I don’t know if I will. I feel like my life has become even more unpredictable than it ever has been before.
I hope for this year that I am able to find a way to settle down. I want to date at the very least, but I would like to find someone to marry. I want to be more physical (or at least as physical as I have been in the past, but I don’t want to wait two years for anything to happen again). I want to be able to find a job that I like, in a community that I like, in a country that I want to live in. I want to continue to feel confident in the work that I do. I want to continue to feel supported to try new things, and to feel like I have others backing me up.
So this time last year I was sitting in my hot and sticky apartment in Washington Heights. Today I am sitting in a beautiful apartment, where it is quite chilly outside in Canberra. I wonder where I will be next year?
Some Birthday Highlights:
- Being at a house party with mostly Israelis who work at the embassy, and they stopped to play Israeli birthday songs for me.
- Having new friends make sure that I had people to hang out with on my birthday.
- Going to a surrealist performance and getting to play with art pieces that normally you can’t touch.
- Meeting the Austrian security guard at the Gallery who told me of meeting his wife in Australia which is what made him stay, and maybe I too will find my husband here (he wasn’t even Jewish and said this). After having a conversation about if people are more fed up with the world and so they are coming to religion or if that is what is making them leave religion, he tells me he thinks that I am made for the job and that I will do a great.
So, here is to 31. 🙂