I’ve been back now for almost a week at this point. I have been meaning to write about it, but writing has seemed both too overwhelming, but also underwhelming at the same time.
I feel like I’m home. I’m walking the streets that I see in my mind. I’m meeting up with my friends as if 11 months have not passed. As I go from place to place I inevitably bump into people. People smile at one another, make eye contact, actually engage with one another even if they might be a stranger.
On my first day back I went out to lunch with a friend to our “usual” spot. Just like that. I was back to being me. It was amazing to catch up. Yes, much has changed in both of our lives, but our essence was still the same.
I went to other friends who this past year both bought and apartment and had a child. In many ways they are different than when I left them- it would be strange if not. And I do miss who they were, our conversations, and even their other friends, are talking about breastfeeding, poopy diapers, and sleep schedules. I am still close with them, but I feel like I am not able to interact in the same way as I once was.
I hosted seder with D and J. Seder was really a lot of fun. I wonder if I will be able to have that again. Where we all are there to just sing and learn. We stayed up till 3:30am. We had costumes. We had props. Food was good. Jokes were had. I try not to to think about it now, of where I will be comes next year.
I went back to the nursing home I worked it. Again I was greeted by familiar faces that were excited to see me. Wanting to know if I have returned to work, or where I have been because they haven’t seen me in a while. Even the residents who have dementia and rarely remember things, remembered that I was someone they knew, I was someone familiar to them. I met the new manager, and even before we spoke she offered me to come back.
I had a meeting with her, where she offered me a job as the organizer of cultural activities. I told her thank you, but no thank you, because I want to be able to pursue my role as a rabbi. I did give her the idea of bringing me in as a rabbi, to run programs in the home, to bring people from the outside in- she wrote everything down, and even took my contact information. I don’t know what will come out of it, but I do know that I tried. I also know that apparently everyone has been talking about me, and how everything has been different this year.
It feels so nice to be back and to feel at home. For the most part this trip has been wonderful. I am pushing myself not to think about the fact that I only have two weeks left or that I don’t know when I will be back again. But I am remembering how important friends are. How nice it is to have people around you, who care for you, who make you feel like you are part of something bigger, who make you feel like you matter (maybe why I find NY so uninviting is part of how no one will look at strangers in the street).
Even with these thoughts, I want to make sure that moving back is the right thing. I want to make sure that I am not giving up on too much – being able to work, being near my parents and grandparents as they are getting older, being near my nephew so I can be a real person in his life…those are all important things that I will have to give up to be here. I just hope when the time comes I am able to make the right choice.
But for now, I am going to just enjoy my time being with friends.