Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hit Reset

Shabbat #6

Guests: Rebecca and Jason. Both are graduate students at Washington University in the Social Work School and Business School respectively. Jason worked on Steve's campaign. My son still affectionately refers to him as "running for office Jason."

Menu: Chicken Stuffed with Garlic Herbed Goat Cheese topped with Fire-Roasted Tomato Sauce, Roasted Asparagus and Tomatoes, Toby's Whole Wheat Challah, Angel Food Cake Topped with Strawberries and Kahlua

What I Learned:

Last June I purchased new linens for my bed. This was one of a string of purchases I made in an (unsuccessful) attempt to buy back happiness and peace of mind after all hell broke loose. My Frette sheets are topped with a black silk coverlet, two large euro squares covered in coordinating red silk and a array of cream pillows in varying sizes each adorned with hand sewn flowers. Once made up this is the kind of bed that can only be admired from afar. It is neither kid proof nor drool proof. Just pretty to look at.

Making the bed was never a priority until last summer. Some days it got done, other days it didn't. And if it didn't get done in the morning, what was the point of wasting the effort if I was just going to get back into it that night?

Things are different now. I make the bed.

I have always subscribed to the theory that a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind. So when my mind is cluttered I become extraordinarily orderly. My husband calls this "tazing" -- as in the Looney Tunes Tasmanian Devil -- as I spin around the house like my hair's on fire. If I am tazing (i.e. using ALL of the attachments on Oreck vacuum to eradicate dust from the moulding) this is usually a sign that he needs to ask me what's wrong. Unless of course he knows that he's what's wrong. In that case he just gets out of the way.

Making the bed helps declutter my mind.

A made bed is also harder to get back into. It's a preventive measure. On days that I wake up, recall what has unfolded and and want nothing more than to pull the covers over my head, I will myself out of bed and make it. Quickly. And then I trust that if I can just get a little momentum going I can push through the day.

For the most part this has been a successful approach. But sometimes I hit the proverbial wall. This week I hit that wall. Dead on. Monday was compounded by Tuesday which rolled into Wednesday. By Thursday I was climbing back into my carefully made bed.

All week our Friday dinner loomed over me. The thought of cooking and socializing was almost more than I could bear. I made a few unsuccessful attempts to scare up some dinner guests, but my heart wasn't in it. Not wanting to "let the dream die," I delegated the guest list to Steve. He invited Jason.

I like to compartmentalize my life into tidy fragments. Before college. During law school. Pre-marriage. After kids. And ... post politics. Until Friday, I never really thought that Jason would be a part of "post politics."

Turns out he may just have been the most important dinner guest to date.

I fully expected to spend the majority of the dinner discussing politics. Which for me pretty much means listening and waiting for the opportunity to interject a new topic. Especially now. That's not what happened. Sure, politics came up a time or two, but most of the conversation circulated around Jason and Rebecca and all that is possible when you are young, educated, childless and just waiting for your life to unfold.

Then Jason said it.

"My resolution for 2010 is to go to services once a month."

He was talking about going to temple.


My response was pretty uninspired. But not because I was uninspired. I guess I was just taken aback by the fact that a single, 20-something was talking about religion. Or maybe it was just too much to unpack right there at the dinner table. Whatever the reason, I didn't pursue it. But his statement stuck with me.

During my 20's I was not thinking about religion. In my 30's the possibility of becoming Jewish was all but dropped in my lap. Nearly 40, I am still not sure I would call myself a religious person -- whatever that is.

But I do know this.

On Fridays I am filled with energy -- even when I have been dragging all week -- as I prepare for the night. At the dinner table -- even when Ben and Sarah are crawling on top of it -- I feel peace with our family and friends. Post-politics I have gone to temple a few times by myself hoping to find ...well, hope. Have you ever been crying inside, but holding it together on the outside hoping no one notices, but secretly praying someone does? And then that someone wraps their arms around you and a giant weight is lifted without anyone saying a word? In those dark moments, that's what it feels like to sit in services.

Jason was important not just because he came, but because he made me think about why I made this resolution in the first place. In my first entry I described shabbat dinner as as "a "lifeboat" that helps ferry us out of troubled waters -- even if just for a night." Sort of like hitting the "Pause" button only to "return to the program previously in progress." But maybe it's like hitting "Reset" instead and "restoring the original factory settings."

I hope Jason keeps his resolution.

I know I'm keeping mine.

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