Happily Eva After: Roundup: Rosh Hashana reflections

Eva ruminates on dating in the 21st century

Despite a few heady days of allowing my imagination to run wild, at the end of the day, my balanced dating philosophy still held sway. Here, a paean against Azerbaijani fantasy. (photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
Despite a few heady days of allowing my imagination to run wild, at the end of the day, my balanced dating philosophy still held sway. Here, a paean against Azerbaijani fantasy.
(photo credit: PEPE FAINBERG)
This morning, I was jarred awake – and not by the pastoral sounds of my alarm clock or a cat having a snarlin’ good time. No, it was the insistent quacking of a duck that did it.
Now I don’t know about you, but I have yet to see a feathered friend waddling around Jerusalem’s Rehavia or Baka neighborhoods. But somehow, what sounded like a mallard had come to rest right outside my window, and it was putting on a heckuva cacophony.
As I bolted upright, it occurred to me that this particular odd duck was like my own personal shofar, awakening me from my slumber to think about the upcoming High Holy Days. Where have I been? How have I improved? What work is still ahead? So dear readers, what could be a better time than now – right before Rosh Hashana – to assemble a list of what I’ve learned over the past year...
• People will make observations: As a wise man once said on Facebook (the new Pirkei Avot ?), “Haters gonna hate, potatoes gonna potate,” to which I add, “and people, especially free-speaking Israeli men, gonna make bizarre observations.”
In this open society, people feel free to say what they think of you, despite not knowing you well. And they will conform to stereotypes of what they think you are like – based on their personal experiences, what they grew up seeing on TV, or otherwise.
Being that I do not resemble the average Israeli, and do look very much American – and have adapted but have yet to fully abandon my New York-influenced wardrobe in more casual Jerusalem – acquaintances, Shabbat meal- mates and various random folks feel the need to comment. A roundup over the past month alone: “You look like the kind of girl who doesn’t enjoy sand on the beach.” (I don’t, it gets everywhere and is sadly full of cigarettes, at least in Tel Aviv, but what do you mean? I’m a – gasp! – JAP?) “I’m shocked you know Hebrew.” (Why? I’ve been here five years, and don’t seclude myself in some “An - glo bubble.”) “I’m surprised you made aliya.” (Why? I did so right when I arrived on these verdant shores as a raging Zionist.) “At first I thought you were an Ima Polaniya [not necessarily positive term for ‘Jewish mother’-type who gets anxious in a uniquely Ashkenazi way and forces food on strangers] but as the meal went on, I realized you were funny.” (Huh? I don’t recall anxiously trying to foist chulent on this guy I had just met. Turns out it was some sort of mating ritual – dude ended up asking me out.) “Shlomit?” *Gives me hug.* When I demur: “You look just like this girl I know.
Magniv [cool]!” While the last one is neither here nor there, you get the idea. People gonna potate, and it’s up to you not to take offense or internalize all the unsolicited stuff.
• Shabbat meals are a good place to meet dudes: Speak ing of meal-mates, beyond formal introductions through friends, and events, I’ve found Shabbat meals to be a great source of new men - folk to date. You’re relaxed, eating and drinking in a convivial atmosphere (hope - fully not marred by too many random observations) conducive to getting to know someone.
I’ve found the guys here to be pretty good about following up after the meal if they are interested, and they have generally been of a high caliber.
Also, your table-mates could know other interesting people, and try to set you up in the future – which re - cently happened when I was approached by a moth - er-son pair from Australia I met at a lunch two years ago (!). You just never know.
So, ladies – put yourself out there, network and try to attend meals with some new peeps! Let a friend bring you as a guest, or get set up with a family.
• Some things just aren’t worth it: Any touchy life situation is fraught with potential land mines. The woman trying desperately to get pregnant, the middle-aged man having difficulty finding a new job – both know the pain of a well-intended but hurtful remark. “What are you waiting for? Maybe your situation is because...”
Singles are, of course, no different, and the jab can come from many directions: dear mom, the concerned co-worker, the friendly makolet owner. For example, a 40-plus guy I was recently considering dating told me about a gentleman he worked with who, in his 50s, had finally decided he was ready to get married after a half-century of resisting the institution.
Knowing I am in my mid-30s – when women con - front their own, suddenly looming fertility issues – my potential date proceeded to tell me that his delightful, no-longer-young friend wanted kids, so only women in their 20s to early 30s would do. Oh, and he had considered this one girl in her mid-20s, and while her age was fine, the fact that she lived a distance away in Vienna was unacceptable. So, did I know a local nubile young thing to set up with this zaidy? These well-meaning clods are often clueless and/or have no idea what your journey is about. Do yourself a favor, and rather than expending energy on them – move along.
• It’s all about timing – your own: When waxing poetic about the mythology of love, people will often tell you it’s all in the timing. While impatient me found this very hard to deal with in my younger years, as I’ve matured I’ve seen the mysterious ways in which life unfolds, and how people usually do find their other half even after years of searching.
Thus, worrying and obsessing is not going to boost your chances or speed things up. Rather, being the best you can be, mending whatever’s broken and doing the inner emotional work to make yourself the best possible vessel for love, when God decides it’s the right time, will.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is look inward. Which is why, rather than focusing on dating (though obviously I’ve gone out a time or two – witness my previous columns!), I’ve spent a nice portion of the last year on my own: thinking about my character traits; identifying and fixing any childhood traumas that could be holding me back; asking my - self why my past relationships failed and what I really want.
With these months of self-reflection behind me, I feel more settled and sure of the type of guy I’m looking for, and hopeful that this may be the year I find my bashert on a white horse.
And with this, I conclude: • Life is crazy, revel in the mystery and try to enjoy the ride: Life never fails to astonish me – tons of people I know got engaged this year, others took incredible vacations, and still others found amazing career opportunities – and God has lots more surprises up His celestial sleeve for all of us. While it can be scary and nerve-racking, that’s part of what makes it fantastic.
So as we look forward, get excited about the future! I hope you can relate to at least some of my ruminations, and it’s been useful in helping you come up with some of your own (if self-analysis floats your boat).
Shana tova u’metuka !