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I Shall Wear the Bottoms of My Trousers Rolled

Last weekend we went to the Bat Mitzvah of our friends’ daughter.  It was our first friends who we knew pre-birth to have a child Bat Mitzvahed.  In other words, we’ve been to the Bat Mitzvahs of friend’s children, but we met those friends after their children were already born.  These friends have known Josh since college.  The husband married us.  Their daughter — then only two — danced around with my niece at the rehearsal dinner.  We’ve obviously seen her since, but in my head, she is still that two-year-old.

It was bittersweet to be there because so many of our old friends were at the event.  When we moved out of the city, we lost a lot of our close friendships; the people we saw on a weekly basis.  While I know that part of life is moving through various permutations of friend groups, holding onto a few people always while the rest of the cast changes as life changes, it is hard to go back into Wonderland and see that you are the Alice who has moved away while the March Hare, Mad Hatter, and Dormouse are still having their tea parties.  I was so happy to see everyone; I was so sad that life had continued on and that we needed to catch up, that I didn’t know their day-to-day life anymore.

One of these friends had a daughter who was now 13.  She didn’t remember me; I didn’t expect her to.  A long time ago, after a miscarriage, I had decided to visit the mikveh.  I’m not a monthly mikveh go-er — I’ve only actually been twice: right before my wedding and this other time after the miscarriage.  When I went for my wedding, I invited all my girl friends to join me.  They each brought a wish for my marriage and read their blessing after each immersion.  Afterward, we went out to dinner and various bachelorette activities.

Maybe I was looking for that feeling that I had after my bridal immersion — that feeling like I was ready to get married; ready for whatever came next.  After this particular miscarriage ended, I had this idea that I wanted to go back to the mikveh.  This friend was one of the “mikveh ladies” — women who were trained to help you through your time in the mikveh — and I asked her to take me and to bring along her daughter.

Her daughter didn’t know why we were there and she kept asking me, “are you a new Jew?  Are you a kallah?  Are you a monthly?” — religious conversion, pre-wedding, and after your monthly period all reasons that would make sense for us to be there.  I’m sure she was confused by how hard I cried as I went underwater.  I wanted my friend to bring her child because I really needed this visual reminder for why I was putting myself through everything.  I wanted my own child so badly, and I just remember looking at her daughter and thinking I want that I want that I want that.

And now, seven years later, I was at this Bat Mitzvah and I had that.  This little girl who had accompanied me to the mikveh when my heart was completely broken was now this lovely young woman — so grown up — and she had no idea what she did for me that day in the mikveh.  And my own little girl was only a bit older than she had been when she had taken me there.

Sometimes time moves so quickly — like the earth — that you’re not even aware of its movement.  And then an event such as this Bat Mitzvah happens and you suddenly realize how fast you’ve been spinning.

I have been married ten years.  My friends and I have all aged ten years since that night when I first went to the mikveh and they stood giggling by the water’s edge, giving me these blessings of a happy marriage.  It has been about eight years since I went to the mikveh after losing that pregnancy.  Eight years since this little girl crouched by the water’s edge and tried to figure out why we were there.  And it is an incredible thing to age: to have these memories of people from before they can remember; to still be around to see what they’ve become.


1 Kristin { 11.06.11 at 11:20 am }

What a beautifully introspective and touching post. Thank you for sharing this story.

2 April { 11.06.11 at 11:35 am }

This is a beautiful post. And you’ve inspired me to spend the day on introspection with T S Eliot. Thank you.

3 Emily { 11.06.11 at 2:19 pm }

Such a beautiful post

4 PaleMother { 11.06.11 at 3:17 pm }

This is a blow-me-away post, Mel. Gorgeous.
“Sometimes time moves so quickly — like the earth — that you’re not even aware of its movement. And then an event such as this Bat Mitzvah happens and you suddenly realize how fast you’ve been spinning.”

I don’t know what moves me more … the thought or they way you write about it.

Remember when you turned ten? When I turned ten I walked around talking about being a “decade” old and it was such a big deal. When the decades themselves start to pile up … it’s no small shift in perspective and your center of gravity moves … deeper. I definitely feel it. You are talking right to me.


5 Lacie { 11.06.11 at 3:29 pm }

I love this post! And I learned about Mikveh, which I found to be fascinating! Thanks Mel. You are such an amazing writer!

I can’t wait to tell you about the book I’m working on. I’ll be visiting your “How to get a book published” series often!

6 slowmamma { 11.06.11 at 3:33 pm }

What an amazingly beautiful post!! I am so thankful for moments like these that make you take that step back and put things into perspective. Life would be so much poorer without them.

7 Amanda { 11.06.11 at 6:38 pm }

Thank you for your post. Having just had my second miscarriage in a row myself, the image of you reappearing from water focusing on the child is so powerful. It makes me realize that I too need to re-focus on what I want and do whatever it takes to achieve it.

8 Pam/Wordgirl { 11.06.11 at 6:45 pm }

Mel. I can never tell you enough how you are changing people’s lives by what you share here — and what you’ve created.



9 jjiraffe { 11.06.11 at 7:02 pm }

This is so so beautiful. I have tears. The only time I’ve been in the Mikveh, was when I and my six month old twins were immersed and officially converted. It was such a lovely moment. Thanks for reminding me through this lovely post.

10 a { 11.06.11 at 9:40 pm }

You know, I just find myself zipping randomly through life. You put meaning into and taking meaning out of so many moments. Is that a blessing or a burden? Whichever, it certainly lends to some really incredible writing…

11 Lori Lavender Luz { 11.06.11 at 10:16 pm }

I love full-circle stories like this, in which a person realizes her dreams have come true.

Love love love this.

12 N { 11.06.11 at 10:45 pm }

Gorgeous. ♥

13 Baby Smiling In Back Seat { 11.07.11 at 12:57 am }

“And it is an incredible thing to age: to have these memories of people from before they can remember…”

I think a lot about interactions I have with children that they will never remember, including many who will never remember me at all.

I also think about the other end of the cycle, about interactions I have with elderly people with dementia that will never be committed to memory because they can no longer form memories.

14 Bea { 11.07.11 at 8:16 am }

This is a beautiful post.

I am remembering a friend who, due to mental illness, doesn’t ever seem to move forward with his life, despite various plans. Not long ago I had both kids visiting him and he suddenly stepped back and stared at me and I could tell he was having one of those moments, too. I can’t remember exactly what he said.

I am currently spinning too hard to have had one for a while. But the occasion will come.


15 Mo { 11.07.11 at 2:16 pm }

oh mel, what a beautiful post. thank you for sharing.

16 loribeth { 11.07.11 at 6:02 pm }

This was gorgeous, Mel. You make me want to call up my oldest girlfriend just because. Thanks. : )

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