Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Waiting Game

[Edited for Privacy. E-mail me if you have any questions.]
I had an interesting thought today, namely that it is interesting how life has sorted itself out since I started writing in February. So much has happened in the last 90 days, and now I have a book filled with diary entries. I was in the midst of school; I was over my head; I was sleep deprived. I didn't know where life was heading, and I felt like I was in a barrel heading over the Niagara Falls without oars. I was also questioning my religious identity and I had many questions.

I am now sitting at my desk which has been overrun with papers and books from last semester, empty coffee cups, empty plates, wires, notes, a half empty salsa jar, some mouthwash, a clock that has been flashing 12:00 am for weeks now, an empty bottle of diet soda, and an empty bag of barbecue flavor popcorn. I am looking around my room and my laundry basket has overflown as of weeks ago, and there are both clean and dirty clothes all over the room. My bed is covered in books and suits, and my floors are covered with papers, notes, binders, books, and unopened mail. However, I don't feel bad about any of this because I made it through a time where there were many days I didn't think I was going to make it.

I still have eating problems because I forget to eat, and I still do not have an orderly life yet, and my schedule has been overrun by things that are important, and so the urgent yet not important and non-urgent, non-important mountains of tasks have fallen to the wayside forming such clutter that normally I would think that my life is not in order. But au contraire, I don't think I've ever had it so clear.

I survived my second year of law school. I leave to China in exactly thirteen days for my summer program which should give me career opportunities that will last me a lifetime. I am on good terms with my family and with my friends. I am religiously on track with a clear understanding of where I am holding and where I need to improve. Most of all, I feel like I have a grasp on my life, at least for now.

The shidduch (matchmaking) seems to be going well. I am still with the same girl, and if I have estimated right, we have spent close to sixty hours together just talking and getting to know one another.

In order to quell my mounting anxieties and insecurities why she has not been in lock-step with me when it comes to making decisions about our future, I've been relying on my rabbi's words in which he said, "Don't think that she feels the same way you do. You never know what is going on inside her mind." She confirmed those words as valid last night. With this, I am trying to stay unemotional until I know that she is with me on this one. I could also hear that she was using subtleties in her language last night, many of which eluded me, but nevertheless I could tell from her smile and her pointing out that she was being subtle that so far her thoughts seem to be positive about us.

There is an insecurity in the back of my mind, making me wonder 1) what is not being said and 2) what is stopping her from moving forward? I understand that for many people it simply takes time before they are ready to commit, but in our case we know that there is a specific unsaid obstacle that she has told me is on her mind and is physically stopping her from committing; that obstacle is something that has been in the back of my mind (because I do not know what it is) and it has stopped me from relaxing and from enjoying her completely because I wouldn't feel comfortable falling in love and giving myself completely over to her until** I knew that she was with me on this one.

**[Note: It's appropriate to mention here the difference between how a secular person and a religious person dates. A secular person falls in love; they sometimes live together; they sometimes share in all the activities that people who are married would be privileged to share in. After a period of months or years, they ask the question of whether they are the kind of people who could get married. Often this leads to heartbreak and dysfunctional relationships when one partner believes that the kind of person they would want to marry is different from the person they are with. However, a religious person first finds out if there is compatibility between them for marriage, they get engaged, and then after the engagement, they allow themselves to fall in love and to develop emotions for each other, saving all physical intimacy for after the wedding. I once told this distinction to a female secular friend of mine who was insulted at my comparison; she told me, "not all non-religious people have sex before marriage." So I stand corrected, but the distinction is still valuable to mention.]


Daphnewood said...

Not to make light of your situation but it reminds me of my mom saying "no one will buy the cow if it gives out the milk for free". She would say this to try to convince me to stay pure before marriage. How my innocence compared to the buying/selling of a cow still eludes me but it makes me laugh. Anyway, when you said 'it cheapens the experience' it brought it all back to me. You are afraid she won't commit because you're giving the milk for free. (I am just laughing while writing this) Again, I am not trying to make light of your situation. I was just struck by the difference in standards at what constitutes as chastity. To me, you sound like a man in love. Love makes everyone do some crazy things including going out to dinner and wearing colored shirts ;) If that wasn't enough proof the methodical time keeping (i.e. 60 hours together) is a dead giveaway!

Zoe Strickman said...

Thank you for the feedback. All of what you said is true, even about the colored shirt. Yesterday I wore a maroon sweater and lo and behold, a close friend of my rabbi walked by me, noticed me and the fact that I was on a date, smiled, and continued walking. I didn't die as I thought I would, but the colored sweater will require a slight explanation when I will just happen to see him tonight.

As for the cow and the milk, I smiled when I read that because that was EXACTLY what was on my mind during my date last night. She kept asking me if we could do X or if I could go to Y with her, and I kept saying "when the time is appropriate," meaning when you buy the cow. It is funny how it is me here that is holding back from allowing the experience to be all that it can be, but I don't want it to be taken for granted that we can date forever.

My rabbi made a comment which I forgot to mention in the article, namely that it is very possible that we might not get engaged before I leave to China, and that we might just have to keep it going for another five weeks until I come back to the US until I have any certainty. I don't quite like that, but who am I to force my fate if something like this might be in the cards? I only hope that she finds her comfort with the idea of "us" as soon as possible.

Rowan said...

This is true (what your friend said) not all non-religious people have sex before marriage. Also, not all religious people are Jewish either. I mean no offense, but it somewhat offends me that you seem to refer to your religion as the only one. But hey, I guess every religion thinks they are the only one. I would just say with regards to non-religious/different faiths that it is up to the couple and their own personal beliefs, but they usually first allow themselves to fall in love. I myself, took a different approach to my own marriage (after experiencing many heartbreaks) I allowed myself to have an intense friendship with a man, who I married, and slowly and gently fell in love with him more each year. It's not passion, but it's steady, and gentle and is almost like "blood is thicker than water", we're a family now! I think more people should attempt this approach and go into marriage believing that there is no way out once you've accomplished it. I like your ways and I personally believe you have a better chance at success with marriage than most, but I just wanted to clear up my earlier (nasty) point. I agree, most people of my religion (Evangelical/Salvationist) fall in love first, but the fundamentalist followers remain virgins till after marriage.

Zoe Strickman said...

Rowan, I completely know what you mean. Sorry about the religious tunnel vision on the blog; I write about life from a Chassidic (ultra-orthodox) Jewish perspective and when I write, I hope that readers will adjust what I say to their own understanding within their religion. When I make the distinction between religious and secular individuals and ways of life, I make the assumption that other religions have similar value structures. When I discuss religion in general, you're right -- I am usually discussing Judaism to the exclusion of all others because that is all I know -- however, if you would bear with me and adjust my words to fit your Evangelical belief systems, I would posit that there shouldn't be many differences. After all, moral is moral, right? I hope this message came out warmly like I meant it to be. I enjoy having you here and I find your comments to be valuable to me.

Rowan said...

Awww! You're sweet! Thanks for clearing it up for me, I guess I totally misunderstood what you were saying. **blushing and hanging head in shame**

Glad to be here!