Saturday, January 13, 2007

Loving A Ghost

Janice is to be envied. She's a Midwestern girl with typically simple Midwestern attitudes and a sincere smile. Her parents met and married in Detroit. She has lived in the same town her whole life, went to school there, worked there, and kept contact with many, if not most of her childhood friends and acquaintances. She has watched the same circle of friends and relatives grow up, grow older, and even die. Her social roots and connections are so deep and profound that they extend even into her business dealings and professional life. If her friends happen to be devout Christians, Palestinians, black, native American, married, or divorced it matters not one bit to her. She doesn't see the differences because she relates to everyone as just Janice, with no pretense or suspicions. There is no underlying presumptions of racism or prejudice to her thinking. No preacher or priest or parent ever told her which group to avoid or which people to dislike.

Enter Shlomo, the man lost from another world that an unsuspecting and joyfully naive Janice cannot even begin to understand. His life is long behind him, having left friends and family back in the world from which he fled. He has no one, no close friends or even relatives that seek out his company. In his former world, he too would have shunned the heretic, if for no other reason than to protect his own reputation or that of his children. He is rejected not for who he is, but for what he represents in his refusal to conform. He accepts his chosen fate, but he is lonely at times for the close personal and long term friendships that his loving partner has nurtured. His world taught him how to exclude things from his life based upon religious or philosophical dogma. Now, twenty years later, he still operates from that perspective in a completely different venue, and remains more exclusive than inclusive in his social habits.

She doesn't pry into his past or ask him probing questions into his former lifestyle. Once in a while it comes up in conversation, but she never pushes the matter beyond what he is willing to share. She only wishes that he, too, had kept close contact with family and friends. Her life is full of them and she couldn't imagine for herself any life without them. This is what puzzles her most about the man she has chosen. His solitude disturbs her. She has never been a refugee from anything for any reason. She doesn't understand why he just can't pick up the phone and call old friends back in New York or Israel. Sometimes, she must believe that she is loving a ghost.

Yet, like everyone else in her life, she simply loves him as he is to himself and for them as they are together, and only sees him as happier when his past, present, and future are not at odds with each other. She knows there are two men with two very different lives lurking inside him, and she also loves the one she will likely never encounter. That she can embrace the intangible and impregnable within him is indeed a wonder.

Kol Tuv


rebelmo said...

Truly beautiful piece of writing about a beautiful person.

Shlomo said...

Thank you.