Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Passover problem

Why is this forthcoming Passover unlike all previous Passovers? It's not, really, but it does present a dilemma.

Last year, I co-hosted a Seder with friends at my place. It was fun and, actually, my preferred way to celebrate. I love my family, but when we had Passover in New Jersey two years ago it was overwhelming and exhausting and anything but fun. I enjoyed spending time with my nieces and nephews. It was good seeing my brothers and sisters-in-law. Dad, however, drove me nuts and mostly I wanted to escape. While I kept my good humor most of the time, I was often frustrated.

This year, Dad proposed that we go to New Jersey again and B1 (my elder brother who has a big house in New Jersey) agreed to have us. I promised to attend.

But we ran into a problem. My nephew's wife, Avital, was not able to get a visa to travel to the US. Why? She is married to a US citizen (all of my Israeli relatives have US passports) and they don't believe she has sufficient ties in Israel to guarantee her return. Right now, the young couple and their newborn are living with her parents and they don't have jobs. They don't pay rent, earn income or attend school--any of which might serve as an assurance of a return to Israel. Of course, my nephew is free to come and live in the US without any special permissions, but he can't bring his wife and baby. How bizarre!

Yesterday, when Dad called to wish me happy birthday (maybe this was part of the present?) he said, "Since [nephew] and Avital and the baby can't come to New Jersey, I think we should go to Israel for Passover."

I said, "Huh."

He said, "What do you think about that?"

I said, "Huh." Silence. "Well, I don't know. I have to think about it."

"But would you go?"

"I don't...I just....  Look, I figure I'm going to Israel some time in the next year anyway for [oldest niece]'s wedding."

Dad said, "That's probably true."

"And one trip to Israel a year is enough for me. It's just a much harder trip than going to New Jersey."

"I guess so."

"And more expensive."

Dad said, "Oh, we'll cover the tickets, so don't worry about that."

"Even so, it's a much harder trip."

"Yes. Susan [Dad's wife] isn't so excited about it. And neither is SIL1 [B1's wife]."

I said, "I can't imagine that they'll go...[meaning B1's family]"

"Well, think about it and let me know tomorrow. Happy Birthday!"

Um, yeah, Dad, thanks for that.

I emailed Pele about it and she wrote, "I think that one trip to Israel a year is enough. Going for Passover is a lot to ask."

Later, over a birthday drink, I told Kansas. I said, "I can't really talk to my mom about it either because she'll just want me to go to Seattle instead."

He said, "Where would you rather go, Seattle or Israel?"

"Well, neither."

"But if you had to choose..."

I said, "Oh, Seattle, of course. But I'm going there sometime soon anyway to get the camper with Pele--when she figures out her work schedule. So there's no reason to go for Passover." (My mom is giving me her VW Camper and Pele and I have plans to drive it across the country...someday.)

"Right, I forgot about the camper. So, what will happen if you say no to your dad?"

I sighed.

Kansas said, "Guilt, just guilt?"

"Oh yeah, lots of guilt. Like this, 'Oh, but it won't be the same without you and the kids want to see you and it's important for the family to spend time together.' And, 'I'll really miss you if you don't come.'"

"Right. So, have you ever said no before to something like this?"

"I have, but rarely. It's hard. But, you know, a few months ago Dad was up in New York and he gave me just a couple of days notice and wanted me to come up. I said, 'You know, I'm going to have a date on Saturday, so I can't come up.'"

Kansas chuckled. "But if he'd given you more notice, then maybe you could have changed plans."

"Exactly, but since I don't have kids, somehow I'm expected to be able to jump up and leave everything with no problem."

"Oh yeah, my parents are the same way. I usually don't mind but it's a little annoying--why do I get treated differently just because I didn't procreate?"

I had to laugh at that because it's so true. Not that Dad wouldn't love me to have kids, but until I do, I'll still be expected to be more flexible than the rest of the family. It's not completely unreasonable and in this situation, Dad is also asking B1 to come to Israel, so treatment is equal on that end. I have to wonder, though, if B1 will get as much grief if (when!) he says no as I will if (when?) I say no to Passover in Israel.

On a different matter, I apologize for being a terrible tease when it comes to Kansas. He's definitely not my boyfriend. Perhaps we're dating but I'm not so sure about that. Last night, for example, I met him for a birthday drink at his regular bar. It was an actual plan, even. We were there for a couple of hours but at 7:30, I was ready to go home and he wasn't. I gave him a hug and a kiss on the cheek and I left. I come to find out later that the bartender said, "Hey, your girlfriend left. She was kinda pretty." How did I come to find out? He called me around 9pm, much worse for drink. I said, "Your girlfriend? Oh, he meant me." Really, for a second, I didn't know what he was talking about. I am an idiot.

Kansas calls when drinking and emails when sober. I hear from him most days, several times a day, by email. We've only had one "real" date though (other than the birthday drink), and that was meeting for coffee last Sunday.

I can't imagine having the kind of romantic relationship with Kansas that I want. He drinks far too much and his life is very bounded. If I'm going to have a boyfriend, it needs to be someone with whom I can do a variety of activities. Sitting in a bar watching sports on tv (or, possibly, during baseball season, watching games in a ballpark) is not sufficient. I want to go out to dinner, see movies, visit museums, go dancing and take walks...among other things. Yet, I don't see the harm in hanging out with Kansas when what I want to do is watch sports in a bar (or baseball in a ballpark).

I see the danger in this situation--that I could start to mistake him for a boyfriend, that I could start to have expectations. But I don't think it's possible to have expectations for someone who is so clearly incapable of meeting them. I also consider myself free to date other people and I actually went on a date with someone last week (not a date of much note, but a date nevertheless). Sometimes I get a little confused about what's going on with Kansas, but that just means there are situations (those involving kissing, for example) that I need to avoid. Take physical contact out of the equation and he's a fine person to have as a friend. Add it in, and I might start thinking that I do have a boyfriend--a lousy, worrisome, non-committal boyfriend. And the last thing I need is another one of those.

Grateful for: a new friend.

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