Do you ever wish cloning or teleporting were possible so you could be in two places simultaneously? I often do! I love my life. It is abundant with authentic relationships, joy, passion, and purpose.
So what’s the dilemma? I want to be everything to everyone in every way every time. And that is just not possible! Mike and Nicole, who are friends that are family, told us the date for their daughter’s bat mitzvah. I booked a flight and was ready to go to Virginia this weekend.
Then one of my close childhood friends, Robin, mentioned the date of her daughter’s milestone. I knew it was in April. But it didn’t occur to me that two of our dearest friends would have their girls’ celebrations on the same weekend! And the mitzvahs were not even in the same state.
I pondered how fly to Virginia and arrive back in time to Florida. I dissected every scenario and deliberated about how to make this work. After my rational husband said, “That’s insane—how are you going to do that?” I knew I had to make a choice. Not only were the dates the same, but the times were as well.
My husband and Zoe headed north for a quick trip. They had a blast making memories and reminiscing with the family. My husband has been friends with Mike, Talia’s father, for 40 years, which is an incredible testament to both of these amazing men. They have a lasting, loyal friendship. It is beautiful. And they are incredible fathers, too.
Our children are the same age and similar in many ways. Although we’ve never lived in the same state, our families have developed a close relationship. When we see Mike, Nicole, and their kids, it’s as if no time has passed. We are blessed.
I made the tough decision to stay home and celebrate with my friend, Robin, and her daughter, Amanda. Thankfully Zoe and my husband sent me photos and updates during the services and party. I felt sad and conflicted that I couldn’t be there with them. Yet, I am grateful this morning as I reflect on Saturday night.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with bar/bat mitzvahs, I’d like to briefly explain the sweet significance of this Jewish milestone. Bar and bat mitzvah mean “son and daughter of the commandment.” This meaningful ceremony, in which a child reads a Torah portion and often leads the service, signifies entry into adulthood according to Jewish law. For boys, this age is 13, for girls, 12 or 13.
There’s a Hebrew expression that’s been echoing in my mind this week: L’Dor V’Dor. It’s a short yet poignant and powerful phrase. The English translation is “from generation to generation.”
Before I continue, I will share that I am not a religious woman. I am deeply spiritual, and I live by the motto “we get what we give.” I also believe strongly that wherever we send our energy we get more of that, just like a boomerang. My heart has always embraced others’ religious practices and beliefs. I have gleaned and grown immensely from friends of all faiths. I believe most in being honest, loving, and kind.
I love our Jewish customs, rituals, traditions, and teachings. My husband celebrated the next generation in one state as I did so in another. I missed Zoe and my husband as I headed out to Amanda’s “simcha” alone.
It’s customary, after the service, to have a party or other gathering to honor the bar/bat mitzvah child. When I arrived, I lit up like a firefly, flitting from one person to another during the cocktail reception. I reconnected with friends I’ve known since middle school. We chatted at the bar before going to the party room. I am still giggling at several exchanges throughout the night. We’re in our 40s, yet it felt like circa 1987—when we were all attending our own bar/bat mitzvahs!
It was wonderful to meet spouses of my friends, all of whom seemed in synch with their partners. I sensed love and harmony amongst many, and I was thrilled for them all. We talked about our kids, professions, and tried to fit several years into a few hours.
Then everyone entered a creative, colorful room that instantly came alive. Candy decor sprinkled the tables and hung from the ceiling. Music reverberated from the speakers, and the disc jockey engaged everyone immediately. I didn’t need any coaxing— I headed straight for the dance floor. It’s my favorite form of exercise! And dancing with childhood friends is even more electrifying!
The grin on my face grew as the evening unfolded. Others still live here, and we connect on occasion. One woman I hadn’t seen in years, and we chatted as we danced. What struck me is how much has changed yet also stayed the same.
Current pop music as well as tunes from the 70s and 80s blared from the speakers. “Oh What A Night” and “Bust a Move” boosted my energy. As sweat trickled down my neck, I felt like a teen again. (My body told me otherwise but that didn’t stop me!). If you grew up in the 80s, you remember the limbo and tie dancing. Instead, there are new moves and grooves. I tried to master the sequence of movements as I added my own, too.
I again thought about L’dor V’dor as I danced with my friends while surrounded by the next generation. We didn’t have cell phones or take selfies when we were teenagers. But we lived in and for the moment, like our kids do. And Amanda attends the same middle school as Zoe—just like Robin and I did years ago.
As I hugged friends and family, snapshots of my teen years became a scrapbook in my mind. Robin’s parents and siblings are just as I remember them. They continue to exude warmth and loving energy. Some friends have less hair now but have fuller hearts and heads with more wit than ever.
We’ve aged a bit, and what a gift that we are all still here. Smile lines and crinkly eyes tell the story of our lives. I loved the spunk, sassy, and sarcastic personas that have clearly not changed. It was as if we all time traveled for a few hours. Then I stepped back and watched the children. The kids’ physical features and distinct personalities uncannily mirrored many of ours.
So much has changed yet much has stayed the same. Isn’t that life in a nutshell? As I hobbled into my house, my knees creaked while I walked up the stairs. My back ached a bit. I chuckled to myself as I noted my body’s response to an unforgettable evening. I also chose fashion over comfort, and I do not regret wearing my red shoes for a second!
During my early teens, I wondered about who to sit with and what to wear. As a mother of two teenagers, my priorities have shifted. I eagerly awaited peeling off my damp dress, donning my favorite pajamas, and washing my face with age-appropriate cleanser. And most of all, I was excited to hang out with my 16-year-old son. I couldn’t wait to hear about his night. From generation to generation, it was a weekend of the past merging with the present.