Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Actors in the Attic

We all got together because we loved this world and we wanted to grow with it rather than away from it. We all got together because there were things we didn’t understand about our world, and it was important that our world made sense. Because this world is hard to live in. Because we’re Orthodox women, and every day, when we wake up in the morning, we make the choice to be here, to remain Orthodox. And we needed to understand that. So we sat on floors and beanbag chairs and uncomfortable carpets and we thought about what made us what we were. And no one minded because we were just talking and talk is harmless.
Then we wondered who else thought this way. Because we can’t be the only ones. Because Solomon tells us that there is nothing new under the sun. So we could not be new. We could only be saying what others had already thought. So why hadn’t we heard it before? Were people scared? Did women believe, as we had before we began congregating in bedrooms and on living room floors, that they were the only crazy Orthodox women who wondered and questioned and contemplated and second guessed the decision they’d made when they’d woken up in the morning? And we thought perhaps we should write down these thoughts because they meant something. And no one minded because we were keeping to ourselves and, as long as we kept to ourselves, we were harmless.
Then we thought, perhaps we could contact these others, these women who thought this way. So we wouldn’t be alone. So we could all know that we all questioned the decision we’d made that morning. So that we could all know that we were looking for that answer together. And we thought that, perhaps, we ought to take these thoughts that we’d written down and show them to others. These stories of different women and different thoughts and new ideas that weren’t new because there is nothing new under the sun. Only thoughts that we’ve all had and are afraid to say out loud for fear of being told that no one else has had them. And we thought that, perhaps, we could let these ideas out. Make them a play. Make them a forum. Make them a movement. Let the thoughts fly out across a stage and attach themselves to new ideas in other women’s brains so that we’d all know that we weren’t alone.
And then someone minded.
Because it wasn’t just talk.
Because we weren’t keeping it to ourselves.
Because it wasn’t harmless anymore.
And people came to us. The good people. The kind, well intentioned people who loved us and didn’t want to see us hurt. They told us not to do it. They told us that, if we did, that we would no longer be welcome in the community. They told us that those of us who weren’t married ran the risk of never being married, and those of us who were married ran the risk of our children’s children’s children being pariahs forever and ever and our siblings not being able to marry because of us. They told us that, perhaps, not all ideas should be spoken of. They told us that, perhaps, it’s better for us to forget the other women who doubt the decision that they made when they woke up in the morning. They told us that, perhaps, it would be better if we went back to bedrooms and living room floors and kept this one tucked under our headscarves because the world in which we live is not quite ready for us. And then no one would mind because we would be harmless again.
But we live in this world and we are ready for us because we have all spent moments in our lives wondering if we are crazy for asking questions and wondering if we are the only ones. We live in this world and we have all spent time being convinced that we don’t, that we are not the members of this world that matter. We are of this world. We are in this world. We are this world. And we will say what we think. Because we love this world. Because we want to grow with this world, not away from it. Because we don’t want to second guess that choice we make when we wake up in the morning. We want to embrace that choice. We want to wake up and embrace this world of Orthodox women that we live in. We want to know that we are not alone.