Some weeks ago, whilst trying to feed my baby solids and answering twenty-one questions from my inquisitive son about Moshiach, the human heart and that funny red spot on my face, I decided it was time for a break. When the daily grind becomes monotonous and the impetuous fun being had by the teens in your Instagram feed starts to gnaw at you, one must find comfort and contentment in appreciating all the great things life has to offer. A roof over our heads, food on the table, great schools to send our kids to, supportive family and friends and decent health insurance plans. When all that doesn’t do the trick, one ought to contemplate on simpler more tangible concepts such as having air to breath, batteries in the garage door opener and a full thirty days to pay credit card bills. On this particular occasion however, the crazy still wanted out.
Some of my closest friends were getting together in New York, and even though I felt a tang of apprehension towards packing a suitcase that didn’t include sneakers, I figured the time was now or never. We did what any sophisticated adults do when they need to make plans and initiated a Whatsapp group. After lengthy discussions that kept getting sidetracked with the babble of friends that haven’t talked in forever, the deeply thought out agenda of “get into an Uber and take it from there” was decided upon.
Suffice to say, the Uber ride over was the only structured part of the evening. Whilst I had imagined a kosher bar with a guy playing a banjo, fate had other plans. The car pulled up to the curb of an impressive looking place better suited to the likes of a Blade Runner movie. Before long, we were tossed into the abyss of New York City night life, too cheap to pay for another Uber elsewhere. The blinding lights of the dance floor coupled with the mind-numbing really LOUD music was almost enough to make you believe this was your “grand” life and not that “looking for the iPad charger” and “waiting in the carpool line,” nonsense you regularly live with.
I suddenly deeply yearned to be back at bedtime bringing endless cups of water to toddlers that had abruptly developed the thirst of an obese whale. Attempting to take photos whilst waiting in line for the bathroom, we were approached by a vivacious young girl who kindly offered to do the honors. Without hesitation she got to work jumping and crouching to deliver an incredible performance of photography, clearly not her first time employing such artistry. If high school had taught me anything it was the instinctive knowledge that this was queen B and our need to impress was paramount to our survival. For someone that routinely manages to sing whilst running on a treadmill for 30 minutes in a public gym, both my endurance and confidence had surprisingly been diminished. To say I felt overdressed at that moment is like saying the Passover Seder is a little bit long.
Despite our every attempt to find a quiet spot to continue our conversation about what we ate for breakfast and the shows we like to watch, we were for the most part overcome by the boisterous environment such really LOUD music accommodates. Taking in the overwhelming surroundings, I dreamed of being home in pajamas playing scrabble.
A wise man once said, “He who laughs at himself, never runs out of things to laugh at.” (He was so wise in fact, that he failed to take credit for his work - that’s how I know it wasn’t a woman). How much more so is this true when done in the company of good friends at three am in the morning, in the only kosher restaurant open at such a time. Fressing carbs and reminiscing on times gone by, we were finally back in our comfort zone and away from the really LOUD music. The next day I woke up a changed person. Not only from the pain of wearing heels for longer than the duration of a Shabbos meal, but with a renewed contentment for the ordinary realities of everyday life. Without fail, the kids were particularly punctual with their 6.30am wakeup call, and for the first time in a while I was happy to see their smiling faces first thing in the morning.
When I was eight, my parents took us on an amazing vacation around the world, which will forever remain an untainted piece of heaven in my mind. As you can imagine leaving paradise was probably the most depressing thing this eight-year-old had ever experienced. The pain remained for weeks only to be redirected when my best friend didn’t save me a seat in the lunch room. At the time my mother tried explaining that the experience we had was no longer there. Were we to go back, reliving the same memories probably wouldn’t be possible. It would take years and a bit of maturity to understand her words.
How often do we fall into the easy trap of reminiscing about the past as if it remained an untainted picture of perfection, when in reality it was never necessarily as complete as we remember it to be? Our early days dating, the devotion we had as first-time parents, our slimmer younger selves, the flourishing social lives we used to have, our passion to solve all the world’s problems back when were in college, non-kosher Chinese takeaway that actually tastes like Chinese food… late nights out on the town. Our past experiences shaped who we are, and remembering the highlights is invigorating. Memories are pretty hard to recreate however, which leaves the fate of our future incumbent on making new ones.