It’s amazing how your first broken heart feels like the end of the world. Until your next broken heart which makes the one prior feel like a farce. I can recall how completely crushed I felt when my college boyfriend transferred schools and dumped me. Little did I know at the time that he was doing me a huge favor, but in the moment I was utterly obliterated. I didn’t know what to do with myself or who I was without him. I kept in touch with his family as a way to feel connected to him and as a way to delay having to deal with what was next for me. I had immersed myself into us as a couple and had not spoken to my friends at length in many months. I had to swallow my pride and call them. Of course they all understood as everyone goes through that relationship phase at least once in their lives. They allowed me to commiserate and I’m sure were bored to death when all I could do was talk about my ex, but they stayed by my side until I got it out of my system.
Finally, I had recovered. I had gotten to the point where I realized that him breaking my heart was the best thing he could have ever done for me. I was over him and moving on—just in time for him to come home on winter break and call me. Eight times over a two-hour period. Didn’t he know about Caller ID? I was flattered and quite pleased with myself. He wanted me back and I now had the power, but I also had the strength to tell him to bug off. I pondered what to do for a few hours, I admit, and even called those girlfriends to confirm my decision to not call him back. I knew that he was not right for me, and I knew that I deserved better. He hadn’t set a high bar for the next boyfriend, but at least I knew I would never settle for something that low again either. Of course, I went on to have heartbreaks much, much worse than I could have ever imagined back then but I learned that I would survive and go on to be stronger regardless of the circumstances. This proved itself when my marriage was crumbling. I experienced massive heartbreak once I realized that my marriage couldn’t be saved, and so I mourned the marriage and gained the strength to leave—partly due to the lessons I learned as an innocent twenty-year-old. I had learned that I would survive, that the bar was set higher once again, and that I wouldn’t settle even if it meant being a divorced, single mother.
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I’m in the process of relocating to Monroe, Louisiana from Oakland, California. Love is the reason and answer.
Most of my friends who live in California where I’ve resided for the past 20 or so years can only relate to New Orleans—thank you Gulf Oil Spill, Hurricane Katrina, and also Louis Armstrong.
I wonder to myself, “Can I move to the south from Oakland, California, a city that is smack dab in the middle of the flourishing Bay Area where almost anything is possible to a place where there are no direct flights from or to anywhere and frankly, where I feel like I’m a converso amid blocks and blocks of Baptist churches, where I’m always sweating in 95 degree plus summer heat?”
Okay. You got the drift. So back in the Bay, I was working in high-tech. A specialized niche as a writer. Now what, I ask myself, recently returned from a writing workshop in Istanbul where I attended Shabbos services at an Orthodox Sephardic synagogue, Neve Shalom. The synagogue was bombed twice, the last time being on November 15, 2003. The bombing turned the synagogue into ruins and killed many people. Since then, the building has been restored. Security is tight. I had to submit a copy of my passport several days in advance to be admitted.
The once active community surrounding the synagogue, located near the Galata Tower in the Beyoglu District of Istanbul, has dispersed. Services are held only on Shabbat mornings, special holidays, or occasionally rented out for weddings.
Mel Kenne, a poet and expatriate who translates many outstanding Turkish poets and who lives near the Galata Tower, told me that he often hears Jewish neighbors speaking Spanish. So it seems that all congregants living in the area have not completely moved away.
When I left the synagogue after Kiddush, an accordion player stepped out on the cobblestone streets and started to play Tumbalalaika, a well-loved Ashkenazi tune. Istanbul is a mélange of languages, cultures, and civilizations. When I was there, I wrote a poem entitled, “Faith Has No Name.”
So what am I going to do in Monroe? I don’t want to be a cashier or a security guard, job posts that frequently appear on indeed.com. There’s a different economic basis here, a back and forth between environmental cleanup and ongoing pollution thanks to companies like Dow Chemical, Georgia Pacific, and refineries that form the underpinnings of Baton Rouge. Maybe after years of being a single mom and raising a family, I could dedicate myself to writing full time…I mull the thought over and it mulls well.