On this post, I am sharing my reconnecting with Carol. She was very much a part of my musical journey during my youth. I am sharing all of this with her permission. (Her words are in green.)
On Oct 27, 2010, Carol wrote:
I was pretty surprised when I got the e-mail about your trying to find me, and it took me a while before I figured out that Sam was the link (then I actually read that in his reply to your blog). I didn’t expect that he’d remember where I volunteered, but I’m glad he did.
I don’t remember singing Christmas carols together; what I remember are all the wonderful folk songs in Hebrew (I can still remember the harmony part to Ba’a M’nuchah). I don’t think I heard your vocal compositions, but on post #6 I listened to 30-year-old recordings of a few of your instrumental pieces. Wow, what a flashback! You used to play them at the beach…you, me, Cindy and Cheryl (and I’m so sad to hear of her loss) and I forget who else…those are golden days in my memory, even though I tended to get very sentimental and cried easily (A memory here that you can include sometime: You played/sang “Both Sides Now” and I cried–of course–and you and the other girls crowded around to hug and comfort me, and a group of guys walking down the beach yelled out something about lesbians! Of course this outraged and cracked us up, and restored a cheerful mood).
I guess Sam is a common link here. What I remember about our losing touch is this: I started dating Sam when I was 21, after running into him at Israeli folk dancing (the dancing is another set of golden memories). It happened on the rebound from a relationship that disappointed and saddened me extremely, and so with Sam, things got intense pretty quickly. I knew you’d dated him, but until I read your blog, I had no idea how long you’d dated or how close you’d been or anything (and he never talked about it much). So I’m not surprised, in retrospect, that you were floored when I disclosed that Sam and I were together. I should have been more sensitive in telling you, but I hadn’t anticipated that it would upset you so.
I think we grew apart after that; and like so many silly young girls, I probably ignored our friendship as I spent more time with Sam. I do know that you told me at some point about your mom forcing you and Mike to marry early, so you did confide in me, but I also recall that I wasn’t invited to the formal wedding. It may be that I’d already moved to Galveston to be with Sam.
I’m surprised–and, I’ll admit, a bit sad, that you’ve drawn a blank on your memories with me until now, because they have been with me always. Well, some of them, anyhow. It’s scary how blurred memories can become as one gets older.
I have so enjoyed reading your blog, though it’s been hard to read about what you’ve been through all these years. I’m happy that you’ve rediscovered your music, and that you’re recording your lovely songs; so much honesty and openness there!
I don’t have a blog, so a recap of my life will take a little time. And it is past lunchtime, and I need to take a walk to clear my head (too much virtual, walking down memory lane), so I’m going to sign off for the time being.
My head is still spinning!
I’ve been thinking of what to write all day! It’s been difficult to narrow down everything – there is so much there!
I am certain you were not at my wedding because you moved away, and that was when we lost touch. I think the revelation that caused the most distance for me was when you revealed your discomfort about your religion. And all is forgiven for whatever happened all those years ago. I do think I was probably hurt and surprised that you felt it necessary to carry on a charade of being Jewish.
I would love to share the story of our friendship. I really was not accurate when I said I drew a “blank.” I think I just haven’t written much about any of my friends except Cheryl. I think I am now ready to write more about friendship, now that I’ve released all my traumatic memories. I did write about Marge, who was a big part of my folk dancing memories. When I saw Marge recently, we sang Ba’a M’nuchah – such haunting harmony! Today I sang the Israeli song “Eli Eli” at the nursing home where my mom is a resident!
So, I’m going to write about some of those memories. I might share some of our email exchange and what I’m going to do now is edit what you’ve written. I can also change your name if you want. Sam said I could call him Mohammad!
He’s very funny, isn’t he?
So look at your writing and see if anything is a problem for me to share. I am very much excited to be back in touch with you!
By the way, I sing “Both Sides Now” at every show practically! Come to think of it, writing this story is like both sides now!
Oh Judy, where do I begin? I’ve been thinking about you all day and wondering how to bring you up to date, which stories to tell you first. And I can see from what you have written that I must write a chapter about the “charade” of being Jewish. It wasn’t a charade, at least not in the sense of me worrying about you caring what religion I was. It arose from an unfortunate chance, derogatory conversation I heard in college, regarding a person who converted to Judaism, and a perception of negativity, that I responded to in an attempt to protect myself from ridicule as I quietly studied how to be a Jew. But that is a story for another time!
And I feel that Sam must be another chapter, although one perhaps kept between us; we’ll see. Writing about Sam is going to be hard. I have no idea what (if anything) he told you about our relationship, and I don’t know if you feel comfortable telling me–your call.
I’m not sure how much time I’ll be spending on this in the next few days, but I’ll have lots of time to write next week since my husband will be out-of-town and my normal routine can be adjusted. So bear with me!
This is going to be interesting…
It’s funny, but I was just writing about you now.
I can even share my writing in progress – I should be done with it soon. There really isn’t that much, Carol. It’s all so simple.
Sam has truly been a gentleman. He said little about you – he said you hated Texas, and he understood that! He mentioned you didn’t have any children, and here he and I have both had four kids! As you know from my blog now, my life has been filled with tremendous challenges from having children. I have no regrets, though.
I am actually sensitive to the fact that my writing about you might embarrass him, so I’m going to have to think that through.
I think when we were twenty we were both immersed in huge, life changes. Once I was married and isolated with my art career – all of my friends disappeared; not just you. I did maintain some contact with Cheryl, but not much. She was in grad school and after that, we lost touch also.
I am sorry for using the word “charade;” that wasn’t gentle. I guess I was a little hurt that you weren’t able to tell me. But obviously, it had nothing to do with me – you had reasons that you’ve shared. I think I felt sad that I was never able to meet your family after so many years!
I’ll send you my rough draft soon. I love looking at these old pictures, too.
I don’t think you have to write much. Your “shock” was palpable and I sense so much warmth in your missing our friendship. Now we’re all grown up and there is so much insight into everything!
I would love to hear what you’ve done over these last, thirty years!
After this exchange, I shared with Carol my draft for the prior post. I wanted her permission before putting it on my blog.
Judy, hold off on this one, will you? I need more time to process what you wrote and how to reply.
There were no crosses in my family’s house. That isn’t why you weren’t invited in. The truth is much harder to write about, and I’m tired and going to bed now. Can this wait a day or two?
With all my love, Carol
Of course it can wait!!!!
I hope I didn’t upset you. Look, this has waited over thirty years. I have written about many traumatic things, and I’m very honest. I’ve been doing a lot of this, so it’s familiar for me. Perhaps this is a heavy load for you – I sense it is.
I don’t want you to be uncomfortable – it absolutely isn’t necessary for “my journey.” I’ve had a wonderful time with what I’ve been doing, and I thought it was so amazing to hear from Sam after all these years.
Anyway, I think it’s fine to process. I am so sorry about my assumption about the crosses.
No, you didn’t make me uncomfortable–I’ve been processing my childhood for a long time now and writing about it is always helpful. But I need to find a way to convey the gist to you without penning the Great American Novel! After all, it’s your blog and not mine!
So here’s an e-mail you can include if you like, to explain both the Judaism thing and why you weren’t invited in:
I wasn’t raised with any particular religious belief. I yearned for a trustworthy sense of history, and for community, and continuity–something greater than me to belong to–and found myself drawn to Judaism. As a teenager, I spoke of my interest in Judaism to our neighbor, a rabbi, and he advised me to “live into it”.
So I did. In college, I took classes and attended noontime Torah discussions, got involved in Jewish social groups and wrote a couple of poems and articles for the Jewish student newspaper, immersed myself as much as I could in Jewish life. I decided to keep my interest in conversion to myself. I tried to “pass” and told people that I WAS Jewish. I reasoned–again, erroneously–that my “conversion of the heart” was as good as a formal conversion. And once you live with a deception long enough, you come to believe it and it’s very hard to extricate yourself from it.
Luckily, once I started getting serious with Sam–before we were even engaged, I think–he convinced me to drop the deception and go for the real thing. I
converted to Judaism for real when I was 22. It was a very profound experience, and I’m really so sorry, Judy, for my deception and the pain it caused. It would have been so nice if we’d been able to get past that and you could have shared that experience with me…When people ask if I converted in order to marry a Jew, I can honestly say “no”, but Sam was indeed instrumental in my conversion.
As to why you were never invited into my home, when I was always so very welcome in yours, it’s because my home was, simply put, horribly uninviting. I suspect my mother was clinically depressed, at the very least, and probably had additional psychiatric problems. But she never sought help and so I’ll never know. She was a chain smoker and didn’t take good care of herself (she died of lung disease in 2002). Mom didn’t take good care of the house, either. On the BEST days, we lived in comfortable chaos.
Usually, though, it was more like squalor.
The best times were when she had a job; she would at least then put on clean clothes and get out of the house, get some activity and stimulation. But other times, she’d sit until noon in a dirty bathrobe, chain-smoking and watching TV. In the afternoons she’d take long naps on the living room couch, and we were very careful not to disturb her, because her moods were unpredictable and usually angry.
We were never encouraged to have friends over, but I didn’t WANT friends over, I was too ashamed and embarrassed. My mom’s ashtrays were constantly overflowing; dog poop and pee would sit around for days before someone cleaned it up, dirty dishes would be piled up in the sink and on the counters until someone had to do dishes (which, invariably was me), and the kitchen garbage-can habitually overflowed onto the floor.
I was the only person who ever cleaned the refrigerator and it always made my stomach ache from disgust and anger, it looked like a science experiment gone wrong; the laundry room was ankle-deep in dirty clothes; the toilets were often overflowing…etc. etc. etc. And my mom was half crazy, on top of it all!
I loved my mother, but I was scared to death of her, and didn’t like being around her. Small wonder that I preferred to visit with my friends in their homes, always feeling guilty that I couldn’t reciprocate in kind.
I hope that this helps explain some things. I’m sorry that we couldn’t/ didn’t talk about all this 30 years ago, because maybe our friendship would have continued. But these are things I didn’t work out myself until I was in my early 30s, which I’ll tell you about in the future!
Ps. Do you know, one of my secret, aching dreams was to sing with you one day again?
As far as singing together – that’s not a maybe – that is a for sure! Unless you’ve lost your vocal chords. I found mine! We’re not too old!
Your writing aches with honesty. I am so sorry for the stress you must have endured. It was interesting for me to realize that I never judged you for not inviting me in while I was younger. I’ll admit I was curious. However, I think when you shared your conversion, it caused me to look at things differently.
I love what you’ve written today, and haven’t had a chance to really delve into it yet – I was busy recording another song. Since you mentioned Ba’a Menucha, I’ve gotten it into my head.
I love my musical life now and all of the closure from revisiting my youth has been immensely healing for me. I think from your writing, you might have achieved it in this instance also.
I miss you and would love to see you again.
Ps. Memories are flooding back all at once. It is wonderful.
I am so glad we reconnected. I miss you, too, and look forward to when we can plan a time to meet in person. And no, I haven’t lost my vocal chords–I’m rusty and need some good old Frankie warm-ups (I love that you’ve been corresponding with her! I adored her, too) but just a few weeks ago, when I sang the Star Spangled Banner at the Hollywood Bowl (yes, they still start with an audience sing-along!), a woman turned to me afterwards and told me how beautiful my voice was (:
I think I will try to bring you up to date in my life chronologically, starting with my relationship with Sam, particularly why it didn’t work out. I’ll try to be diplomatic, because I know how highly you regard him.
Ps. Maybe, someday, we can sing it together again…
That’s not a maybe – that is a for sure!
I was actually going to ask you to update me – especially about the religion part. Are you still practicing Judaism?
Thank you for your openness – it is beautiful for me, because I have a lot of people who enjoy reading my blog. So many people can appreciate our life experiences!
I am going to put you in touch with Frankie, if that’s okay. She would love to know that we’ve reconnected.
Tonight, I’ll think of you when I play. I always play Both Sides Now.
ps. Your secret, aching dream can become reality. When your hubby is gone next week, come on over and sing with me!
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