Cotton Butterfly Skirts

April 7, 2013
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I walked into a kosher market the other day and felt like I was home. The Hebrew music playing in the background was serenading me with a soundtrack of my life- that is, the life I lead before the one I followed. In the supermarket there were pasta dishes and bakery products and glatt-certified meat slowly cooking in gargantuan pots behind the counter, and pans of steaming side dishes sat behind foggy glass cases. The smell was intoxicating. In it I could taste my orthodox childhood and all that I remember it to be - dancing and playing and praying and running and feeling my legs stick together under my cotton butterfly skirt. In it I could smell the heavy thickness of the chlorinated pool where I was placed in the highest-level swimming group and I could feel the burn in my legs as I hiked up the stairs to the gym of the synagogue, where we would gather in a circle to pray. I could feel the hot breeze that brushed the back of my neck as I ran with Ann to the forbidden part of the park: the part with a ride that we spun so fast that Ann threw up in the grass and we had to lie on our pool-soaked towels to dizzily speculate about what it must be like in Gan Eden. I could feel the dirt of the kickball field, the warm deliciousness of Friday pasta, and the thrill of a late-night amusement park excursion. I could remember the casual thrill of buying a soda from the magical vending machine, the sting of the antiseptic patted on my leg after I fell in the side yard, the quiet victory of getting a right answer in our weekly Torah lesson, and the pride that would surge through my body when I nailed a somersault in gymnastics or won an award at our Sabbath parties. At ten years old, however, the food— and the life— were taken away from me, and as I fought back tears in the market, I wondered if that could have only been a coincidence.

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