It was at the bottom of my bottom drawer – the one with my Chai Lifeline running t-shirt, lifeguard whistle, and assorted activewear. I tossed it down there long ago when the drawer was designated for things I use infrequently.
It’s a silver matchbox holder and tray. It was given to me in Israel, as an entirely unnecessary thank you gift from the family I helped out on Thursday afternoons. The mother said she knew I didn’t need it yet. But she figured that one day I would be married and lighting candles and I should use it then. She also offered herself as a shidduch reference, by way of expediting the process.
I brought it out for the first time Friday evening. It felt odd. That is, it felt odd because it didn’t feel odd.
If my life was a novel, striking that match would have brought on a wave of self-pity and maybe the bursting into of tears. Instead, I observed that it was really quite pretty, but a little tarnished from sitting in that bottom drawer so long. Then I lit up.
Life is pretty full at the moment. There are intense ups and downs, tons to do at home and at work, and new struggles to overcome. Being single is really the easiest thing to deal with. I mean, I’ve been doing it my whole life. I can do it almost without thinking.
And secretly, in the back of my mind, I pack away remembrance of every high and low, for withdrawal on that day when I have to support a partner going through the same things.
The theory in most workplaces is that the best way to learn is to be thrown in the deep end. This way you know what questions to ask. Instead of “What is buoyancy?” you’re asking “Is there a significant introduction of drag from underwater arm recovery?”
But an important secret to success is to engage in directed study as soon as you hear that you’re going to be working in a pool. You read about water, maybe stick your head in a full sink, read swimmer biographies, and check out some books on hydrodynamics. On that first day you spend less time flailing around and more time trying out all the things you’ve heard about.
So, maybe I’m not getting experience on the ground, but that just gives me more time to do advanced reading and practices.
To paraphrase the unemployed:
I’m not single. I’m in transition.