Just a quick post to say that I had a good Shabbat after a crazy week in which I’d had good, if anxiety-provoking news (because all change is anxiety-provoking, this more than most), but also had some bad news possibly for myself and certainly for some people close to me.
I got to a shalom zachor hosted by a friend from shul (synagogue) on Friday evening. A shalom zachor is a small gather with food and alcohol to welcome a new baby. This wasn’t really a shalom zachor as neither baby nor parents were present; my friends were grandparents (they are quite a lot older than me), but they wanted to do something. I got lost on the way there in the pouring rain and eventually arrived soaking wet. The conversation was mostly about football, which I have little interest in or knowledge of and my main attempt at participating was a joke which my friend liked, but which fell rather flat with everyone else; I have a horrible feeling that they thought I was being serious, and stupid. Still, I was glad to go, because I wanted to support my friend and it felt good to be part of a community.
Despite getting to bed late after the shalom zachor, I somehow managed to get to shul this morning. It is true that I was nearly an hour and a half late, but I was there for some of the leining (Torah reading) and Musaf (the additional service) and I even managed to stay for kiddush (refreshments). I didn’t have the courage to initiate conversation with anyone I didn’t know, but someone I didn’t know came and spoke to me and I think I mostly avoided coming across as a total idiot, even if I found it hard to explain why I have not been at shul much in recent months. I did find the courage to talk a little bit to some other people too, so I think that counts as a success. I slept for nearly four hours this afternoon, though, so I’m a bit worried about whether I will fall asleep tonight.
I got to shul tonight for Talmud shiur (class) and Mincha, seudah and Ma’ariv (the afternoon service, the third meal and the evening service) plus I heard from two people I know whose children have been very sick that they have made full recoveries, so that cheered me up a little after hearing of other people becoming sick earlier in the week.
I had a thought today that instead of thinking, “I can make friends with people who are very unlike me (different age, different religion, different nationality), but not with people who are like me (other Orthodox Jews)”, maybe I should stop thinking of Orthodox Jews as being automatically like me (which in many ways they aren’t) and instead say, “I can make friends with people who are very unlike me, including other Orthodox Jews.” Because I think I can make friends with some of them, just not necessarily as close friends as some of my other friends. (My closest friends tend to be people who have experienced mental health issues, especially if they are also into science fiction. I have good friends who are significantly older than me (like my friends who hosted the shalom zachor, who are probably in their late fifties) and I get on well with my Muslim colleagues at work. It’s making friends with other frum people that I find hard, probably because of my eccentricities and especially my feeling of being a misfit and not being a ‘good’ Jew or a ‘normal’ Jew, not that the two are necessarily the same thing.)