Monday, April 13, 2009

Pesach Reflections, Part II

I know this is long, but bear with me. The Pesach Miracle comes toward the end, as well as a question about those of you filling out the poll on your matzo toppings ... keep reading!

With a free day before the Second Seder in West Palm, Tuvia and I decided to trek out to the ocean. After all, my one trip to the Atlantic was amid a horrible rain storm in freezing cold weather, so I was looking forward to a beautiful day dipping  my toes in the ocean and collecting seashells. I'm not a big beach bum kind of person, but the vastness and blue of the ocean mystifies me! So we schlepped out, and I convinced Tuvia to dip his toes in the water. The beach was super crowded with families and the water was a little too chilly in my mind for swimming. The sky was clear and blue, the water matched in brightness, and colorful boats floated in the distance. We headed back in toward Tuvia's aunt's house for the second seder, stopping to change first out.
We arrived, and the night mimicked the previous night in many ways. The seder was very short, with few people carrying on for the second half of the seder (in truth, it was the same three people -- Tuvia, myself, and his cousin). It bummed me out a lot, but what can I do? The meal was good and the conversation was interesting. The crowd was mostly the same, save a few new neighbors and a semi-distant relative and his wife. There was philosophical conversation about what happiness is (oy, not going to even go there) and the evening sort of lulled around the living room as people trickled home. The hugs and warmth that were given to me by Tuvia's family is incomparable to anything I've ever experienced. I felt so welcomed by the family, like a true member of the family. Oh, and the dog? Yes, the dog ate the afikomen -- twice. And Elijah never came! Oy. Next year in Jerusalem!

On Friday morning, we got up and schlepped to Tuvia's grandma's place for one last goodbye and a breakfast of matzo brie and matzo pancakes. I've never had matzo brie before -- I tried to make it once and failed miserably -- and bubbe's was absolutely OUTSTANDING. I have yet to make any here yet, but I fully intend on making some tomorrow before the second chag! We said goodbye to his grandmother, headed to his aunt's for some more goodbyes to the cousins and everyone, and headed off to the airport.

On the way to the airport, my anxiety about the iPod incident continued to boil. I'd called the credit card company the night before (despite the chag) to find out if there was anything they could do -- most credit card companies have purchase protection for about 90 days after the purchase for lost, stolen or damaged items. The woman on the phone was kind to relate her own lost item (the bottom of a car seat, really?) and apologize that nothing could be done. So heading to the airport, my anxiety started to build again. I kept thinking -- maybe someone found it? Maybe someone turned it in? Maybe it will magically be there? After all, we were boarding at the same gate we de-boarded from.

We checked in, went to the gate, and there across from us sitting in the waiting area was a little old couple with a bag of matzo. I was jealous and starving and wishing I had some matzo. But I muffled my hunger, approached the woman at the counter who had been so brash with me just days before, and was informed they still hadn't found anything but that I could file a report with baggage claim. Right. It was gone, that was it.

The plane ride back was a lot more smooth than the ride to Florida. The moment we landed in New Jersey we were to pack up Tuvia's car with gefilte fish, matzo, kugel, Judaica, and more and head immediately to West Hartford for Shabbat. Yes, once again, travelling on the chag. It tore me up inside to do so, and I hope that if we go the same route next year, we won't travel on the chag. (NOTE: TUVIA!)

We arrived back in West Hartford just as Shabbos was beginning. Our host family had waited to have dinner until we arrived and we were so thankful. We were welcomed to a house full of friends, extended family, neighbors and children. The meal was loud and boisterous and the food was delicious. It felt like Shabbat in all ways except the amazing Everything Challah was nowhere in sight! We laughed and talked, related our seder experiences, and afterward everyone retired to the living room and we chatted about family and children and Judaism until the wee hours. Shabbat day was a repeat of the night before, with long and loud conversation among friends and loved ones. People from all over discussing religion and Judaism and Pesach and tradition and the chag and matzo. There was so much, so many people, so much noise! And it was beautiful. There was something also involving a hanging sheet in our sleeping quarters, but that's more fun as an inside joke. If you want to know more, let me know and I'll email you the hilarious details :)

But because of the stress and anxiety and constant noise and people for three days straight, I had Tuvia take me back to campus motzei Shabbos -- but only after a quick trip to the supermarket to shop the motzei Shabbos/seder SALES!!! I got some great deals, let me tell you ...

But the Pesach Miracle? I've been in contact with my credit card company, to no avail. I've filed a report with Continental, to no avail. I'd Tweeted and kvetched and cried about the stupid iTouch I'd lost. My success, my achievements, my physical manifestation of feeling good about my accomplishments. And then, as I'm lamenting how many jerks there are in the world, someone -- an e-friend out there in the ether -- decided to donate to the cause. I didn't ask, or plead, or request. There is merely a soul out there who is fighting the good fight, proving that amid all the jerks there are a few mensches. It was an unexpected gift, and thank yous have been issued but I still feel they are not enough. There is no doubt in my mind that this person will obtain their reward and place in the World to Come. If not, well, more immediately. I hope that someday, when I have the means, that I will be able to perform such giving to ease the minds and hearts of those around me. So all is not lost, fear not, dear readers.

So now, I'm busy eating  matzo and cream cheese and lots of other deliciously dairy things and I think my body is rebelling. I'm hoping to head to the store tomorrow maybe to get some fresh fruits and veggies, but we'll see if that ACTUALLY happens. Otherwise, I'll scavenge for food at the rabbi's for the second chag.

Also: For those of you voting in the poll to the right there -- what is the NOT LISTED that you guys put on your  matzo exactly? I'm super intrigued.