Indiana Jones at Sinai

Three years ago, I was an OTD newbie. Every single holiday was a struggle for me and for my parents, as they refused to accept that I no longer want to celebrate them and I grappled with what I actually felt about any of it.

On my first Shavuos “out,” a theater was showing the Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost ArkI went with a friend from school, and as we sat in that dark theater, I felt my insides being ripped apart. The friend I was with wasn’t a close enough friend for me to confide in her, so I just sat staring straight ahead as tears rolled down my face, and afterward only told her that it really is an awesome movie (it really is).

Afterwards, I sat outside on a bench, tears continuing to blur my vision as I wrote this poem. It’s a pretty terrible poem because I wrote it while still in the first throes of all the emotions I felt.

This year, my feelings toward the yom tov are entirely different. It’s not a struggle to decide not to go home for shavuos, and I don’t feel the abject horror at the idea of people actually believing, and yet still smiling, that god hung Sinai over the heads of the Jews and threatened to bury them if they don’t accept the Torah.

Maybe I’ll edit the poem someday, once I’ve had more time to reflect on what I felt then. For now, here it is, unchanged from how I wrote it three years ago:

Indiana Jones at Sinai
(6/5/2014)

Every Shabbos
I wake up
thinking about how you
all are in that mode
of
peaceandserenityandrestandholiness

how I
will be packing up my books
heading to school
the library
the park
to work
to write
forbidden activity
forbidden thoughts.

I got used to that.

Strange detachment
images at the back
of my mind
me
separate.

I got used to that.

And then.
You plead with me
that overused argument
I was there
at Sinai
I said I accept
I can’t deny it
because five million witnesses
three and a half thousand years
no one says
“my father didn’t tell me that”

I cry.
I argue.
I rail.
It’s not enough
for me.

Fate’s a bitch
Shavuos only days later
I wake up
thinking about how you
all are in that mode
of
peaceandserenityandrestandholiness
add a dash of accepting
Torah and God
with a pinch of
crying because
I’m not there.

The used-to-it-ness
goes away.

Fate’s a real bitch.

I’ve been waiting
for this
for so long
now
breath stolen
the golden glowing ark
as Indiana
strains
lifts
the badim
vestiges of awe
as the line of men
proceeds
with the blue velvet cloth covering it
I’m back
in seventh grade
learning about
the joy of
recovering
the aron with the luchos
bringing it to Shiloh
the dancing
the celebration
the dead
who dared
to touch
the holiness

villains delighting
in opening the
holiness
look in wonder
crazed joy
the gold spirit emerging
swirling throughout
Indiana knows –
don’t look Marion

and then the spirit inside
burns
melts
flesh
amid screams
and terror
and holiness

and the gold spirit
ascends
in a tornado of
light and fury
the chest is rising
the aron
ark of the covenant
is rising
returning to god
just like he said
I feel
relief

but
it’s only the cover
it crashes back down
along with my insides
covers the ark
conceals
holiness
terror

Indiana and Marion
survived
because they didn’t look

and I think I’ll never get used to it.

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