Undercover

I needed a sanity break after the mourning. Something spiritual that told me beyond the crying and hand wringing and talk of a divine plan that there was actually something out there that had a modicum of meaning.

So I saw my friend. The one whose name I share, but in my head I add “frum” to the beginning because I must need a line drawn between myself and a frum version of me. I walked down familiar streets, two frum girls and a baby at a kosher coffee shop. My sheitel itched. My skirt inched downwards because on my list of clothes to purchase when going from a size 22 to 10/12 a tznius skirt wasn’t on my list. And the looks. I hadn’t realized it before. I’d never noticed.

Pity.

The look I give Muslim women when I see them in a full hijab. The look I give frum women pushing strollers and carrying babies.

While the coffee shop was kosher, it’s in a neighborhood that can go either way. Hipsters mingled with Chabadniks, the distinctive hat played down by the attractive wife in a $4,000 sheitel. And frum me. One woman looked at me so forlornly that I wanted to grab my iPhone and show her pictures of the “real” me.

My project to get a sense of true spirituality failed spectacularly in the shtetl I once called home. But, I think the idea of being not what I outwardly seem was important. I’m quick to judge – I think we all are – and it’s important I stop assuming that everyone wants or has the capacity to be enlightened.

For some, no matter how hard they pretend, enlightenment starts and ends in a tiny filament that will never again ignite.

Pity.

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