Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful for Alcoves

The temple I grew up with is very different now, 
yet eerie and comforting in how little it has changed.  
Entire wings have been added, but some areas remain the same.  

Since I grew up there, even though I had hardly ever attended services, 
I still get a bit defensive when people who have been hired since my leaving 
make jokes about me invading “their temple”...  

It's my temple.  After all, I know all the best hiding spots.  

I even found a new one.  It's an alcove. 
I thought it had an IOU plaque which basically stated that it will be... 
something, but apparently it's just a giant hole for the plaque itself.
It states the new name of the Hebrew school. 
People had spent a lot of money to have random things named after their family 
(and to help the temple)...
I thought it would be a display case, maybe?  Nope.
Well, it displayed a rare, rowdy Rowyn.
I even ignored my own thoughts!
I adjusted early on when someone passed me. 
He was questioning why I was hiding, 
but I assume my “possibly about to take a dump” pose didn't help. 
Thankfully, I've learned that smiling pleasantly tends to make people just smile back
and go away. 
Even as a kid, I was generally avoiding services to go make out with girls in the classrooms,
but I would sometimes sit just outside of the sanctuary, 
or on the stage in the room just across from it all, 
in order to listen to my father sing. 
The room itself, 
the expectations I felt, 
and the “community” environment that I never felt fully a part of 
kept me from wanting to participate. 
I thought “cult” whenever the congregation said things together, 
and I thought “fake” when a person I didn't know would hug me because of who I was. 
I had a lot of trust issues even then, 
and I knew that I was supposed to keep anything I was going through or living with a secret. 
These people weren't going to be my friends, 
even if some may have genuinely cared about me if I had given them half a chance. 
I didn't want a Bat Mitzvah. 
It didn't feel right to have one. 
Going up in front of everyone was horrifying to begin with, 
but add the idea of them all listening to me speak and chant 
when I couldn't even stand to hear myself, KNOWING how strange I sounded... 
How mumbled, quiet and awkward... 
And on top of all this, 
morally, I could not bring myself to lead a service for believers 
when I didn't really have faith myself. 
This is not to say that I didn't believe in things. 
I did. 
I had a lot of beliefs. 
They were just really negative 
and involved the idea of believing in the Devil more than a caring God, 
which is ssoooooo not a Jew thing. 
To this day, whenever I write a story about the Devil, 
he is mostly a victim of circumstance. 
Cocky, but was once a loved angel. 
The fact that I interpreted this character in such a way may say something. 
One day, if I remember, I may write a whole entry for this. 
In any case, “faith” implies something more positive and hopeful. 
It's that feeling of “I KNOW this going to be okay” and I didn't have that. 
I knew that I prayed and I followed the rules and did everything I was supposed to,
but nothing got better. 
In my little child brain, there was no future, 
and so if nothing got better RIGHT NOW, it was never going to. 
(The allergy incident in Israel probably didn't help, 
though the fact that I survived it should mean something.)
My love for temple then meandered to only a love for the camaraderie of my friends
and one for the building itself and all its hiding places. 
Somewhere in there, I did grow a kind of faith. 
It's small and strangely shaped, 
but it has helped me when I needed assistance, 
which means it has done the job just fine.   

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