While on vacation in Palm Springs, I participated in my first Seder. What a wonderful experience! It was everything I’d ever imagined – filled with ritual, food based, and slightly chaotic. The perfect religious and special meal. The opportunity to enjoy a Seder dinner arose when Griffin and I visited an old friend of mine. The last time my friend, Roberta, and I had spent time together was nearly 25 years ago and it had been a bit of a disaster. If I had to sum up that 3 week visit (I know, a ridiculous length of time, but I had lived with them in the past as their nanny/project) in 10 words, it would look something like this: Joshua Tree, tequila, tears, Corona, turquoise bikini, fake i.d., regret. Yep, that’s what it was, in 110 degrees of dry heat.
This brief Passover stop over was as sweet as Kosher wine. We talked, we laughed, we told stories to Griffin, and when Griffin finally surrendered to sleep, we talked about exciting things offered by the future…lovely. I took Griffin to some places I had been introduced to a quarter of a century earlier (dramatic, huh?) and we ate the best cinnamon bun ever. As I shared these experiences with my boy, an entirely other thing was going on as Roberta and I talked about her and her daughter, the child I had been a nanny to so many years ago. The child who now had a daughter of her own, who looked remarkably the same as her mother had during the years we all lived in the same village in Orange County, N.Y. There was an incredible exchange of memories and impressions and reminiscences as we shared the impact we had each made upon each others’ lives.
Roberta was the first person who truly forced me to accept ownership of my life and where I wanted to be. She taught me how to make quiche and to put some distance between myself and the steering wheel when driving, and she broke me of my annoying habit of using the word “goes” in place of “says.” You know: then she goes blah blah blah. There are pieces of her that now reside within me and that is an amazing gift for someone to have given of themselves. Her daughter, Leah, was less than two when I began taking care of her all those years ago. At that time in my life I was very involved in gymnastics – practicing back handsprings and side aerials for hours in a friend’s basement. I started teaching Leah how to do backbends and cartwheels and she totally fell in love with the sport. The two previous trips I had made to the desert decades ago, included time spent shuttling Leah 90 minutes each way to the gym where she trained and competed. She now owns a gymnastics gym in Palm Springs and our trip coincided with Leah’s daughter’s, 7 year-old Rachel, very first meet as a gymnast. Wow – talk about being significant in someones life! As a teacher I’ve often said that it is a true privilege to work with kids and I am blown away by the role I played in Leah’s (and subsequently Rachel’s) life.
Although there was a lot of looking backwards in the desert visit, there was an equal amount of looking forward. The uninitiated may imagine the desert as an infertile place lacking in hospitality, seemingly barren. Believe me, nothing could be further from the truth, for me. My soul was absolutely bathed in love, support and reminders of how some connections remain intact despite time and distance. The recognition of the impact created when one passes on wisdom and tradition to people one loves, paired beautifully with the Passover holiday. Unforgettable.