Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Here we go...

Again, I'm really sorry that it's taken me this long to sit down and just get it all out. I've been really busy as of late, with yeshiva starting up again last week, and on top of all that craziness, I had a date last week that didn't fare too well...

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's skip back to my last few days in the Holy Land, and work forward from there.

My parents left two days after the Chag, but I stayed until the end of the week. This left me with plenty of time to visit the friends that I hadn't had a chance to see yet. I had stopped several times at the Zone (for those of you who don't remember, or didn't know, I volunteered there during my tenure in the Holy Land. Click the link for my post about it...), but it seemed to have closed down. I was trying to visit my boss, and the two guys who I had really gotten to know well over there, see how they were doing, etc.
Never one to be deterred, I started visit the local haunts, places where I knew the guys used to hang out when they weren't at the Zone. Several times that I went, my search was fruitless, until I ran into a guy who I knew, albeit not too well, who was friends with one of them.
He gave me one of the guys' number, and I called him up.

This guy - we'll call him Jay - had gotten arrested shortly before I left the Holy Land on posession charges. While we tried to raise money to afford him a lawyer, it ended up not being enough. He sat in jail for six months. At the time, we thought it was a bad thing, but as it turns out, jail was the best thing that happened to him in recent times.

The last time I had seen him, he was in a bad state. Long hair, dirty clothing, really spazzed out, and looking for things to get him high, because the Ganja was starting to be too dull for him. Because he was inside, he was forced to be clean. I'm sure he could have scored in jail, but because he was too scared, he kept to himself...

Anyway, I has been hearing really good things about him. He was clean, he was laying tefillin every day, had himself a steady job. I was really looking forward to seeing him. He came to town about an hour after I called him. First impression as I see him step off the bus? He looks healthy, and cheerful. He's wearing a pair of jeans and a hoodie with the sleeves torn off, he's let his beard grow, and he has a big yarmulke sitting on top of a tight little ponytail.

He looks great.

I wrap him up in a bear hug, because I'm truly happy to see him. I step back to get a better look at him, and then I notice it: the little ponytail actually consists of his peyos tied back; the rest of his hair is cropped very short.

Amazing!

We start walking, chatting, catching up with each other. He tells me he's eight months clean, out of jail. I mention that I'd just reached the two year mark myself, and he claps me on the back. "This calls for a L'Chaim, man!"

We head over to a little, quiet bar where we won't be bothered, and get ourselves a table.
Jay: You drinking, man?
Me: If you are, I am.

I don't really drink too much; aside from vodka, I don't like the hard stuff. It hurts my stomache. We order a few shots of vodka, and the serious shmoozing begins. He tells me that he's between jobs, but he quit because he's trying to open his own business. He lays tefillin every day, and he learns several times a week with a mutual riend of ours. I know he's in good hands. As the hours go by, the drinks keep coming, but it's spread over the time, so it's no big deal. I'm just so happy to see him, and hear how he's on the up and up, that I forget momentarily about everything else: the dating, the pressure from everybody to hurry up and wait, to figure out what and how and where I'm going to spend my life. For once I'm back doing what in love...

Total drink tally: 5 shots of vodka, two cokes, and 5 bottles of Tuborg Red (the big ones), one pack of Pall Mall Lights. At the end of the night, I had quite a nice buzz.

Getting back into the swing of things in yeshiva was difficult; it's always hard to shift gears, but after being in the Holy Land? Oh, man...

This past shabbos, I went home. My dad turned sixty last week, so we threw a bash for him. Other than that? Nothing much doing...

4 comments:

The Dreamer said...

I love the feeling of finding out that everything turned out ok... or better than ok...

i had that with a girl i used to speak to - we hadn't spoken for over two years, and she just called me one day, out of the blue...
and she's doing awesome now.
puts a smile on my face every time i think of her.

Moe said...

WOW i have not seen "JAY" in a long time and i did hear what you did but thankx for that update!!! it's really good to hear!!!!! and good to have to back!!!

jjl said...

sixty is a big deal he beat karais

jewmaican20 said...

Dreamer - You're right, it really feels great. I don't know if any of it had to do with me, but that's not even important, considering...
Moe - We might not be talking about the same guy...
JJL - Yeah, it is a big deal - except that by the party, after everyone gave him a bracha about finishing "the first half" and "Ad Meah V'Esrim", etc. he spoke, and mentioned that he's being realistic about the whole thing. Given the average life expectancy of someone from his generation, he said, he figure he was about 75% done...
Freaky.