| Diary Serial |

Spreading My Wings: Chapter 20

Something in her tone woke me up to a new possibility. Could it be that Mommy actually wanted me to come home?

 

Some girls know before they even get off the plane that they’ll be staying in seminary for Pesach. Some girls know that no way, no how, are they staying for Pesach. And some girls aren’t told they have to come home, but they have the option to if they want to.

Those girls are lucky, in a way, to get to decide for themselves. But at some point, the decision of where to spend Pesach has to be made, and there’s only one person who can make it.

Guess which category I fell into.

My parents gave me the freedom to make my own decision. I’m really not such a homesick type. Succos away from home had its challenges, but it was more adventure than heartache, and I was sure I would be well taken care of on Pesach too.

As Chanukah came around and Pesach got even closer, stories started circulating about how much girls in other years had gained from being in Eretz Yisrael without a break in middle. Going home for Pesach shoves reality back in your face and brings you up close and personal with the imminence of the big, scary, wonderful world of adulthood. You’re forced to contemplate what your next steps will be and where they should take you. You have to learn how to reconcile your seminary self with your high school self and what that means in terms of who you are and want to be. But staying in seminary for Pesach gives you a dashing suntan, happy once-in-a-lifetime memories, and a flow that helps consolidate your spiritual accomplishments.

I was leaning toward staying in seminary. Mommy had always stayed totally neutral when we spoke about Pesach, helping me weigh the pros and cons on my own but leaving herself out of it. I took that as a sign that she was fine either way. In the back of my mind, I was also very aware of how much my parents had already spent on sending me to seminary, and I kind of wanted to spare them the added expense of bringing me back home in middle, especially when I was going to be home just eight weeks later either way. The money factor wasn’t the make-it-or-break-it of my decision, but I definitely felt like it was the “good girl” thing to stay put — for my sake, and also for my parents.

It was just two days after our final production performance that Pesach became an open discussion between me and Mommy again.

It started as I was standing at Kikar Shabbos in Geula. I was holding my phone to my ear, telling Mommy all about my latest adventures, when she suddenly said, “Avigayil, are you sure you don’t want to come home for Pesach?”

Something in her tone woke me up to a new possibility. Could it be that Mommy actually wanted me to come home?

I had to answer carefully, because something told me the tables were about to turn.

I sighed. “Well, Ma, I don’t know. There are always some days when I’m, like, so excited to stay, and then there are the more homesick times when I have no patience to think about finding seudos and stuff. It’s hard, because when you have a ticket, you know you’re committed to going home. But when you think you might be staying, it’s not like you have that same feeling of commitment.”

Pause on the other end of the line. “Ah ha,” said Mommy. Another pause. Then, “Uh, Avigayil, what if I told you that I booked you a ticket?”

“Wait, what?”

“Just in case you ever decided to change your mind.”

I stood stock still on the sidewalk. My mind whirred. I was going to be one of those going-homers, after all.

Going home would give me precious family time, enable me to return back to seminary with perspective… and make Mommy happy. I hadn’t realized how much she had really wanted me to come home all along.

I took a deep breath and smiled into the phone. “I should have known, Ma, I should have known.”

to be continued…

(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 845)

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