After years of flat refusal, I could refuse no more. The girl I sat next to in senior English class asked me to join Facebook so I could see the photos from my high school class’s recent 25th reunion. It was nice to see familiar faces, and how many haven’t changed much in the intervening years.
But joining Facebook also has its downside. I also see my friends from high school who have, you know, real jobs and careers. They only had one or two (or no) kids, and got their lives on track in good order. Mine has been off the rails for most of my existence. First I wanted to travel instead of going to graduate or professional school. Then I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I did a few meaningless secretarial jobs to pay the rent. Then I worked with emotionally disturbed kids for a year and went to grad school for a year in psych after that. Then I didn’t know what to do again, so I worked with learning disabled kids for three years. Then I decided I wanted to be a Jew so I went to Israel. Then I met my future husband. Then I had to convert, and decided to go to grad school so I could be an underpaid schoolteacher. Then I got married, taught for a year, and had a baby. Then I decided that I wanted to be with my own kid more than I wanted to be with other people’s kids, so I decided to stay home. (The high cost of day care in the US also contributed to this.) And the rest is history. Still $38,000 in the hole, no career to speak of, living from holiday to holiday, from Shabbat to Shabbat, and laundry load to laundry load.
This life does have its consolations, however. My existence is a daily irritant to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Mahmoud Abbass, and most other people named Mahmoud. My existence is a daily blessing to my family, especially my four children. My existence here is the fulfillment of a mitzvah to settle the land, and the fulfillment of the promise Hashem made to Abraham.
Perhaps our lives have some significance above and beyond that of our daily contacts with family and friends. Mine seems only to be that of a statistic, part of an organic obstacle to peace. At least that’s what the media or the American president will say. But I know that my absence will not bring peace to anyone–at least not according to the peace plans formulated at this point in history. And my presence here is a guarantor of continued Jewish presence in the world and in our homeland. That’s all the meaning I need to be satisfied.