Correction: I didn't actually marry him - but I was in the process of marrying him.
Dov Lerman. The weird kid in class who used to eat his boogers. Well, he did.
I was in a full length wedding gown walking through the halls of my old elementary school. I could feel the bumps of the white, large brick walls, see the pattern on the tiles on the floor. Every room was as clear to me as if I was seven years old again. Up the stairs to the art corner where our pictures would hang by clothes pins on a line. It wasn't even a real art room. It was just a corner of the hallway. The tiny room, which only held about 1/2 dozen chairs where we studied Torah interpretations in the sixth grade. Now that I think about it, I felt smart then. Learning those things. How to read the Torah and interpret its messages. Still, the next year all the girls would be going on to their Orthodox girl schools and the boys off to their Orthodox boy schools and I would go to public school for the first time. A stranger in a strange land.
In my dream I was excited. At the beginning. I was making sure there were enough chairs for everyone. Making my through the cafeteria. Still familiar as my safe spot. I would beg my mother to let me sit with her during recess. Look forward to seeing her at lunch. I was torn then too. I loved to see her. Felt privileged to get a "love you" from my mother while all the other kids would have to wait until 3:30. But she had to serve people. And a girl's mother should never have to serve anyone. The food for my wedding was being cooked, the wine was being brought out. I remember a piano. There was a piano in the gymnasium next to the stage where we had our school plays. When my mother would have to work late, I'd sit there and bang on the keys. I thought I was making music. I miss the purity of imagination.
Soon, the gymnasium starts to fill with guests. They are all old teachers and students and family members of my soon-to-be husband. They are all dressed in traditional Orthodox garb. They always look so ready to pray or do something holy. I step outside into a bright playground and there is a group of young men joking and laughing and playing basketball. My brothers are both there. My heart jumps when I see them. Oren looks over at me, he is busy with a checklist making sure everything is just right. He starts to discuss a few matters with me when I realize that I am getting married. To Dov Lerman. Something isn't right.
I start pacing through the school. There were two libraries. The regular library and the 'big, heavy, Jewish books' library. I liked that one best. It was a tiny room crowded with shelves. Room for just one to sit in. The books were fancier, heavier, big and bold and they had a different smell. They smelled of ink and leather bindings. Good grades were sometimes rewarded in class with free time. I spent mine in that library. I wanted to read about god and honesty and faith. I wanted to learn the stories. Read them over and over again.
When I return to the gymnasium/cafeteria/stage, the seats have begun to fill for my wedding. My family is there, sitting in metal folding chairs. It's noisy and busy and I am extremely aware that something is not right. I find my friends. I sit with them, Rachel, Kim, Leslie. They seem to be excited for me and just minutes before - in my dream - I am excited too. But I turn to my friends, in my white dress and slowly, very knowingly say "I will get divorced."
"Shut up," says one of them. Maybe all of them. I can't remember. "No," I answer. "You don't understand. I'm getting married today. But I will get a divorce. It won't work." They stare at me. And I stare at them.
How a place feels safe and scary all at once surprises me...but it does. It did then, anyway. When teachers gave a knowing look that your parents were no longer sleeping in the same house. It was not a usual thing for the Jewish elite. It might as well have been 1953. My mother became a "single mom" in that school and I became a "single daughter". I defied Rabbis and customs and traditions.
The Rabbi takes his place under the chupah in my dream. Dov is standing there ready to say the words and step on the glass. I sit with my friends and search the crowd for my family. It's familiar. But it isn't.