Life as a Chassidic Jew is without doubt full of challenging restrictions. However, there are some very positive aspects to its lifestyle. To name one, openness to the unexpected. It creates for its people to a world of choices. As long as you abide to its rules, your future is yours to map. Go, do, live just as you want.Thus, the journey of my life has been full of unpredictable twists and turns. It’s been an adventure of ups and downs; the experiences all shaped by the choices I made. Here is my condensed dramatic autobiography:
As a seventeen year old, three years into attending an all-girls high school, I decided not to pursue a college education. I was young and hot-headed, and on impulse, dropped out from my studies and picked up an employment offer at a fellow chasid’s modest business.
Work had little excitement for a young secretary like me, but relying on the income as I looked ahead at my lavish dreams, I touched-typed away. I made my way through the streets of Williamsburg ever morning, and I returned at five o’clock precisely. My days each resembled the next. I checked in each day for minimum wage and then used a fraction of that income to shop for designer European wear; as fine and modest clothing is the absolute product of my own taste. The rest of the gold-backed paycheck was stashed away for big times to come.
On one particularly foggy day, as I was walking home in my clockwork route, absent mindedly watching my feet upset the brown puddles lying lazily between sidewalk cracks, I made a detour in my usual route. I stopped by an aunt’s house per my mother’s request.
It was that very day, that very visit, that spontaneously changed my life. It threw my world of predictability into a disarray and hung a thick veil of mystery over my future. After that sudden detour, my trips to work would no longer be the same. There in my aunt's house, as I was sitting at her dinette, the doorbell rang. At the threshold stood a middle-age couple, behind them their son, a handsome young gentleman. His demeanor and attitude had me from the first minute. He looked down, shook with anxiety, and hardly acknowledged me. It was that moment that I knew I had found my soulmate.
In a spiral of unexpected events, what is a story in its own, the next seven months were consumed by an incredible romance. Despite my young age, our love developed something so much more, for instance, into a sparkling diamond ring, and soon I stood at the tall mirrors in Brodey’s Bridal shop, trying white dresses. I watched my own reflection, a glorified angel in endless tulle, and mulled over the irony. Me, married, hardly twenty.
I was looking over to the girl standing next to me, envying her better dress, when I realized I’d known her from school. What a coincidence, I gasped, amazed to see another one of us getting hitched.
“Oh, yeah” she said to me, while the seamstress fondled her shoulders. “We’re not the only ones.”
Much to my surprise, I found many other classmates bubbling between the racks. Some were donning tiaras, some trying on ridiculous off-color ill-fitted gowns, and others crying in their mother’s arms with anticipation.
What are the odds?!
Ironically, my fellow friends were all also locating in Brooklyn, NY, of all places. They too were marrying young chassidic scholars. They too held down secretarial jobs at small business owners. They too were absolutely in love.
They too, were making choices.
My eyes almost fell out of the sockets. What. The. Hell. Are. The. Odds??
Time went by, and I lost touch again. My husband and I decided to start a family immediately after the nuptials. Nine months hence, the baby was about to join us. We arrived to the hospital in the middle of the night, gasping for breath.
“The baby is coming” I stuttered, “cu-cu-coming, right this now!!”
The nurse looked up, nose high in air, and pointed her pencil to a chair. “Take a seat, ma’am.”
Dragging our bags to the waiting area, I nodded to the other much-overdue patients. I realized that many of them were women my age, and I’d gone to school with them. Only it was now that they sat back, drained of every ounce of strengths, as they stared into the ceiling like nothing mattered anymore.
“You all?” I gawked. “Having babies??”
“What then you think I’m doing here, like THIS?” an old friend looked at me, obviously ready to pop more with anger than with child.
I fell onto a bench and wondered about this wonderful life, a life so full of choices.
I WANT EPIDURAL!