I had a conversation with a couple of co-worker’s today about friendship. One girl was saying that because everyone in her social circles are Jewish, she loves to hang out with her coworkers who not. They provide some sort of change.
To give this some post some context I’ll back track a bit. Until 8th grade I went to public school in a small town. For high school I moved to Chicago to live with my dad and go to a Jewish school. Every summer I went to a Jewish camp. I went to Sunday school and Hebrew school. I lived with 4 Jewish roommates in a house when I went to college in Kansas. I still had my childhood friends from my small town who were not Jewish, but after 8th grade my social circle was filled with practically Jews. But things change-friendships ended, folks got married, had children, moved away and life moved on. Now I have a skimpy handful of friends who are of the same faith.
I don’t how to explain what being Jewish means to me because I don’t know anymore. I haven’t even been to high holiday services in a couple of years, I don’t keep kosher, I don’t necessarily date within the faith. To be Jewish has become more of a cultural thing (not at all unusual). I think the sects of Judaism need another category–there are othodox, reformed, tradional, conservative, reconstruntist-why not cultural? The Jew who has a special interest in Israeli film, art, books and yiddish words and an affinity to characters on TV shows, musicians, and comedians who happen to be members of the tribe. They don’t necessary date within the faith, or go to synagogue, but enjoy the occasional Shabbat dinner and charoset (diced apples and walnuts splashed with sweet wine) on Passover. Now I’ve got off topic…
The topic is friendship right? From my mid-20’s on, all of my friends have been of different faiths–most are non-practicing in any faith, but still, the days of being surrounded by Jews are long gone. Once in a great while I have a pang of longing for a community where others understand the same background and mentality, but mostly it doesn’t matter. I love my friends. The diversity of their backgrounds: British, Indian, African American, Southern, Eastern, Western, and Midwestern. Conversations are rarely dull as I tend to (thankfully) choose people who easily speak their mind, but are still are heart. And to me that is all that matters, religion has little to do with honesty, kindness, and heart.
Yesterday I was talking to coworker who next weekend is taking his 11 year-old daughter camping. Canoeing and fishing is on the agenda. We started talking about our camp days, but more our camp days as counselors. How when he was a counselor they had floor hockey competitions (alcohol included) until the wee hours in the night. I shared that we used to start off smoking cigarettes on the tennis courts, then maybe sneak into the woods to smoke pot. Others would pair off and go to their respective places around camp to nookie. There was little sleep that led to endless cups of coffee at breakfast to enable us to handle a morning full of songs, cheers, and convincing the same kid to get into the water at swim time or reassuring another that though she was homesick now to remember how much fun she had with her friends at the dance the evening before.
But I miss being a kid. I miss the year round letters and phone calls. The photo collages we used to make and send each other. There was something really special about these friends we had outside of school that we were so close too yet only saw 4 weeks of the year. I grew up with same gang for almost 12 years. A lot of that sadly changed when I had a falling out during college with my best camp friend–the self proclaimed queen bee who I felt turned a lot of people against me. I now realize it wasn’t her fault–it’s just life–and time moves on and we replace our life long camp friends with ones we met elsewhere like in college. These friendships didn’t survive time. It’s sad. These were the special friends of my youth.
It’s never too late to start again, and there are those you can easily pick back up with. I emailed one today to hopefully begin again:
How are you? I realized recently that your wedding was
over a year ago (Happy Anniversary) and I haven't
talked to you at all this year. I don't know where
time goes anymore. I've been thinking a lot about camp
recently--I guess it's the time of year I always do. I
miss being a kid lost in the innocence of swimming in
toxic lakes, showering amongst mildew and mold. Silly
songs and cheers and bad meals served with bug juice.
I ran into Vanessa this morning, do you
remember from Year Course [the year we spent in Israel at age 18-
the PhD of our years attending a Zionist camp]? I went to her house once
the summer after YC, and there she was this morning
selling produce at the Farmer's Market. She lives
about 5 minutes from me...it's so weird. Anyway, it
made my nostalgia that much worse today. I miss my
camp friends! I don't keep in touch with anyone
anymore...so I reach to you my Christmas Snow to get
the ball rolling again.
Hope life is fantastic and all is well in Atlanta.
Miss and Love ya,