to come home to / by Laura Kochman

Yesterday's post was hard to write and harder to click publish on, but I'm glad that I did. I'm still trying to listen better to what I need, to consider that what I need is worth needing. In the swarm of those emotions, I signed up for a writing workshop this weekend, on embodied ritual in (Jewish) writing. Great timing, right?

My favorite holiday is happening right now, and I spent much of my weekend at family meals. Passover has always been my favorite because it is the most ritualistic, the most structured, the most focused on conversation, the most gefiltefish. I have a strained relationship with Judaism, but not with Passover. I love the symbolism and the groupthink of the haggadah, the way we can never follow instructions properly. One year we wore masks to represent the plagues, one year finger puppets. Ten years ago I skipped Passover to visit a college, and it turned out to be my last chance to see my Bubbe. In grad school, I longed for Passover and attended seder at the only synagogue in Tuscaloosa, where I read a paragraph in Hebrew and the rabbi made fun of my stilted pronunciation. Years ago, I kicked my legs under my aunt's dining room table and watched Bubbe shovel in magenta horseradish and grin at us kids, red teeth and slim fingers.

My family actually isn't that big on ritual, so maybe that's why I love it—what is content without form? A thing to come home to. Every year I wonder / how we'll last / this the last. This year we put an orange on the seder plate, so this will be the year we put an orange on the seder plate. Am I trying to hold onto something that I never had? Will it stay? The seder is the strange embodiment of a spirituality that I don't keep, a form without content, but repetition breeds meaning, and maybe in this way I'll find it.