• The Archer

The Odyssey

Based on my research ( extensive facebook stalking) it seems that a lot of people find it hard to maintain their level of religious observance while they are dating.


I totally get this.


Randomly almost 2 years ago on the day before Purim when I was dreading the holiday and all the rituals I was going to have to complete alone, I considered going into a Greek bakery near my work and getting a non-Kosher treat because I was just so mad about being alone.


Which is silly because I have always said that if I ever went off the derech my first stop would be Panera Bread.


I know that the impulse is there for me though, which is why I have rules I follow. I'm not safe from my baser impulses, no one is, but I think rules help. I dress up for every shabbos (but I don't have to wear nice shoes which means I look hilarious.) I go home or at least away for all Yom Tomim and I try to go out every shabbos.


Going out for shabbos means avoiding the crushing feeling (for me at least) of making your own kiddush and then having to drink all that grape juice. I am happy to pass that off to a random husband somewhere.


Going out for shabbos also means I have explored a lot of places in my general area. I've taken buses south to Baltimore and Silver Spring and west to Scranton. I now know that Kew Gardens and Kew Gardens Hills are different neighborhoods and I can name all the Five Towns and the one that no one agrees on.


I've also gotten to view a lot of families from the inside-from coming in at the height of shabbos preparation to pushing kids for hours on the swings. I like that a lot and may write about that later-the lessons I've learned, the things I want to take with me.


The one thing that my shabbos journeys all entail that I could live without?

A commute.


NYC on a Saturday night is a much mystified fairy-world of partying, clubs, and fancy clothes. At least, that's how it looks on tv. From my perspective it means that all trains are going local and forget about getting a shower in before midnight. A few weeks ago I had a journey home from Monsey that took 3 hours. Let's think about this for a minute: Monsey is 26 miles away from my house-a distance that I can ride on a bike. But on a Saturday night when biking is ill advised I had to ask my friend to drive me the 15 minutes to the train station, board the train, ride for 1.5 hours (WHY IT TAKES THIS LONG I DON'T KNOW), realize that the train skipped Secaucus and was going to Hoboken, get off at Hoboken, take the PATH to 34 street, walk to the 1 because the Path lets you off a block east, boarded the 1, discovered the 1 was stopping at 137 street, switch to the A at 125, discover the A was stopping at 168, board a free bus making up for the subway from 168 to 191 and walk the two blocks home.

26 miles in 3 hours. I may have been able to walk faster.


Another Saturday night I spent in New Jersey. I boarded my train, which arrived 30 minutes late and settled in. A station later, as we were leaving, a woman began to scream. I immediately figured that there was a shooter on board and that he was only a car ahead of me. My thoughts raced-should I try to run backwards to put distance between us, or hide beneath my seat and hope he (I assumed the shooter was a man because men are trash) didn't notice me? BUT WHAT ABOUT MY BOOKS. I couldn't leave my books to be shot! Then, the train came to a halt as someone pushed the emergency brake and everyone got up to see what was going on. Phwoosh. The shooter would definitely take out the standing people and ignore me!

The woman who screamed had allowed her two year old to get away from her and the toddler had wandered off the train at the stop and was left off the train as it departed. They restored the two year old to its mother and twenty minutes later after protocol was followed, we departed again.

(Side note: I have never been a parent but I feel like riding a speeding missile of death is a good time to double down on watching your kid. If I'm being too judgy, let me know in the comments but all the parents I know are usually good about watching their kids around extreme dangers.)

I learned early to spend whatever money necessary to get to my location on a Friday afternoon. When I was young and naive and thought buses followed schedules I took a bus to Baltimore. That bus hit bad traffic near Philly that meant that the driver had overstayed his shift and had to get a new driver. This meant a 30 minute stop in Delaware-putting our new arrival time about 30 minutes after candle lighting. I ended up paying $150 for an Uber from Delaware to Baltimore to make it just before candle lighting and now I know to spend the extra money on the early train.


Because these rides are usually so miserable I allow myself to wallow in self pity for a minute or two. As the train passes by houses and you can make out Christmas trees, I feel a bit of loss for not having a home of my own with my own Christmas tree FOR AESTHETICS OK ITS NOT RELIGIOUS. When my bus is on the highway and it passes other cars I sometimes get a glimpse of couples involved in Deep Driving Discussions and I wish that I had someone who would have Deep Driving Discussions with me.


The other day, I was coming back from visiting a friend in New Jersey and was riding the bus. I was in a real self pitying mood and was texting another single friend about how life isn't fair.


Then suddenly as a sneeze, my stomach turned over and I violently vomited onto the row behind me.


I'm not a big vomiter and when I have vomited in the past I had warning. This was instantaneous and the quantity was....extensive.

There was a young girl in the aisle across from me with her mother who immediately burst into tears at the sight of the adult across the aisle having an explosion. I agreed with this girl and also burst into tears. Helpful.


Shocked, I stumbled up the aisle to let the driver know that I vomited in hopes that he would turn into my mother and help me out. He goes "bus is down." I'm like "sob-what?-sob." He explained that my fluids (loads and loads of fluids) had contaminated the bus and now he could no longer drive the bus and he pulled us over on the highway to wait for another bus.


The fellow passengers and I disembarked into the wonderful 30 degree weather and I overheard the others ask why we were stopping. The driver explained that someone had thrown up and I felt the eyes of the others glancing around to see who it was.


Just ignore me, I'm covered in puke and crying for other reasons.


Eventually the next bus showed up and took us to Port Authority, a place that actually resembles my pile of vomit. I grabbed the first cab I could find and went home and to my shower and bed.


An hour later I woke up and, just like on the bus, immediately vomited with a violence reserved for teams who cheat in baseball.


I got to reshower and change, strip my sheets and remake my bed and scrub vomit from my floor all by myself while running a fever. Don't let anyone tell you the single life isn't glamorous.


I don't have a great point to all of this other than I really wanted to tell my throw up in public story because it wins and #attentiongoals. I don't think next time I'll try to have less self pity, or change my shabbos rules, or double down on my dating (at this point I've doubled down so many times that I have folded myself into an atom.)


All I know is it was the worst and I survived. That's the motto for a lot right now. Everything seems to be the worst and I am still surviving. And yes, I'm aware that it isn't actually the "worst" that we could all be inquisitioned or holocausted but let me have this ok?


At the worst times I'm still moving forward. Even when the A train stops in a tunnel for 33 minutes for no reason at all, the world is still turning and I am still moving even when I am stilled. I feel like my religious observance hangs in the balance sometimes and it is the worst-and I survive to fight another another day.


It stinks, but nothing stinks as bad as vomit on a New Jersey transit bus. Let's just keep going.

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