Get The Hell Away
Rosh Hashanah. Yom Kippur. The Days of Awe and Judgement. The days when, last year, Hashem decided Simone Biles was going to get the twisties in the air on her Amanar at team finals at the Olympics. Hashem decided this was going to happen at approximately the same moment that I decided I was going to switch minyans, therefore cutting out half of mussaf and having the shortest Yom Kippur davening ever. I don't know this for a fact but I'm basically positive.
So clearly these are big days. Have you ever gotten to a good place on one of the Yamim Noraim where you are praying hard, maybe crying a bit and feel really connected to your maker? And then, have you had the experience that only happens out of town where the lady sitting behind you/next to you/across the entire shul from you makes her way over and knows that the two of you are best friends because her cousins son was in soccer with your brother and she claps you on the shoulder and says something like "Hashem is listening to you."
Thankfully we have these women to tell us this because it's something my $100,000+ jewish education didn't cover.
For me, hearing the "this is your year!"s and the "I could feel your kavanah"s really ruins the day for me. There is an intimacy I am trying to build with G-D and nothing ruins intimacy like older women talking. Also, children. Children destroy intimacy.
It's also hard to see the same crowd, year after year, getting older. Switching from sweaty yom tov hair to sweaty yom tov sheitels. Grandkids running where kids used to run. I feel time slipping quickly, too quickly away from me. And then I'm turning to G-D, at best in despair but at worst in anger.
So this year I learned two crucial lessons on how to build intimacy with G-D without it being impeded by the well intentioned and too young to care.
Get the hell away.
This year I spent yom tov in an out of town community where I have a few friends but hardly anyone knows me. And it was WONDERFUL. No one gave me a second look. No one talked to me unless I gave them a smile that invited them to come over for a chat. If I wanted to sleep all day I had no parents or family members to judge me. I got to get back to what I love about Judaism-that I can view every one of my actions as a conscious choice. I chose to daven this year. I chose to try to incubate intimacy with G-D. I was surrounded by my people, a shul full of Jews whose hashkafos and middos I respect, but I was able to be completely alone with my creator.
This year I davened Hashkama minyan, meaning the minyan started at 6:20 am which is a time that only exists in airports. It meant I had to set a shabbos alarm and roll out of bed early and go to shul while the sun was still rubbing crunchies out of its eyes. I am known as the Simone Biles of sleeping. I can sleep any time, any where, for as long as possible and I do occasionally need to be awoken for a 1 PM lunch.
But davening at 7 am meant that I was in game mode. Waking up early is insane and it alerted my body that this was no ordinary day. It also meant that the crushing hunger I usually feel during Rosh Hashana davening because it is ONE PM and we are SOMEHOW STILL IN THE TORAH READING and I won't get food until FOUR AT LEAST was assuaged. We were done by 11, and I was able to go home and make kiddush at a normal time. The songs of Rosh Hashana were not accompanied by a chorus of my stomach growls. Victory was mine.
Holidays as a single are basically a special form of hell because, idk, I guess we haven't been tortured enough? I am here, as The Archer, with all the authority that title gives me (aka none) to tell you to find a new way to celebrate. Not a new way like you do a naked pagan sacrifice of a virgin (I VOLUNTEER!). A new way as in you analyze the issues with your current holiday observance and see if you can find an alternative that works.
Finding alternatives that work may be the only way in which singles can survive long term in the Orthodox community. And since no one has paved a path for us, we'll have to do it ourselves.
Luckily we're strong. We've been through a lot. We can pave a path that will keep us where we need to be.
Happy new year.