She called me the day before Yom Kippur and told me she wasn't coming with me. She "didn't feel like it". With all that she has been dealt in the past few years, and knowing her as well as I do, I wasn't really surprised. When I got over the inital knee-jerk response of feeling let down, it took only a slight shift in my view and I was fine with going to Kol Nidre alone.
Such a contrast with the summery Rosh Hashana on the coast. I rushed to shul from work in a cold October mist, drinking a chocolate milk on the way because there was no time to eat. I kicked off fallen leaves, pinned by the sharp heels of my shoes. The air smelled like Halloween.
I arrived with a few minutes to spare and took a seat by the door. I was uneasy. I thought maybe I would feel better if I moved to the back, toward the middle, but there was no room for my coat and my bag and I felt even more awkward. I was embarrased to move again, but convinced myself to do it anyway. This time I chose an aisle seat, like I do when I fly, and I felt better.
Like an orchestra tuning their instruments, the murmer of hundreds of people warmed me. A hush came over the room as the service began and I focused on the familiar words and melody.
No matter where I am in the world, even if I am alone, I am at home with these sounds.Tears welled in my eyes as the last line was sung.
I gathered my things and shuffled at the speed of the crowd, out to the street. Under an umbrella I walked to the subway.