“I'm going to the Kotel ("The Western Wall"), who's coming with me?,” a girl in my apartment asked the group of us sitting on the couches and chairs, eating dinner. A few girls hands shot up and a few groaned. I silently finished my food and mentally scanned my closet to pick an outfit for tonight. She had to ruin it by making me feel guilty, someone always had to ruin it, I thought.
I was in Israel to grow, to become religiously attached and educated to "my religion". The prior year I succeeded and got to a level I never thought that I could. However summer happened and it threw me back; not to mention my school gave us more freedom. I chose this school because it was strict, as I know myself, if there is freedom I utilize it.
Amy* asked me to meet her in town one night, I told her I'd rather not because I didn't think it was a good idea. I heard about town before I even went to Israel. This was where all the drinking, dancing, bars and stoners went. My school was very against us going there, at least they were last year. This year, they trusted us. After arguing I finally agreed to meet her at the coffee shop across from 'crack square'. She brought one of her guy friends with her. I wasn't thrilled. I was trying to stay away from boys not to mention my school wouldn't be pleased. Well that night started my down fall.
I started liking alcohol in high school but town brought my desire for it to a whole new level. It was hard though staying sober, I never had to pay for a drink because random guys would always approach me and ask to buy me a drink. So I made myself clear before I agreed, no touching me of any sort, not even a handshake, and even when I got drunk I kept to it. Even though I was behaving in the boy-girl aspect I knew that my drinking and partying and even just hanging out in town wasn't going to be accepted by my friends and school mates. I'd hear them go on and on about how bad it was to go there and yeah I knew it wasn't good but that wasn't going to stop me. I was a town rat and I loved it there.
The thing that bothered me more then the drinking, hanging out with boys, and going to bars was that I'd always make an effort to get to town and would even walk if I needed too. I would spend however many bus punches and would make time for it. BUT when it came to going to the Kotel and speaking to G-D, well I never seemed to have time and couldn't afford to spend an extra bus punch. Town was a 15 minute walk from the Kotel, yet I hardly ever went.
When I did go to the Kotel though I felt like a child who was kidnapped and finally had a reunion with her parents after being freed; not that I actually know what that feels like, but still. I would look up at the large stones and then the sky, at G-D. I know He is everywhere but there is a "certain feeling" at the Western Wall that one gets, that I get. it's a feeling of closeness and openness. I would try not to be ashamed of who stood before Him. I told myself no matter how low I fall He will always still want a connection with me, His daughter.
As my last days in Israel approached and my town-nights were coming to an end, I had an urge to go to the Kotel, to speak to G-D, to thank Him for keeping me safe when I didn't do that for myself. To thank Him for loving me and never giving up on me. So after pulling all-nighters in town I'd walk to the Kotel for the morning prayers, to thank G-D for keeping me safe throughout the night.
I learned that not always do we have to pick and choose. Yes, G-d prefers that I didn't chose to go to town and He certainly doesn't like it, but that doesn't mean I can't fit Him into my schedule and still let him know I love Him and want to visit Him and most of all still want a relationship with Him. Life isn't always about picking one's path, sometimes you can walk on the grass between the two.