The Mixed Shabbos Table

First an administrative note: as much as I loved scrolling through my blog and being bombarded with music references, I think from now on I’ll use titles that are descriptive. Okay?

Okay.

I’ve been struggling to write about this for a few months now–basically since I got back from Israel. It was really difficult for me to go from an environment of complete or near-complete gender segregation to a city where even the (rare) Yeshivish events for young people are mixed in some capacity. I had to decide what my boundaries were–shaking hands was a definite no-go, introducing myself was fine, but what about everything in between? Should I become the type of girl who only has female friends on Facebook? Should I wallflower with a book, waiting for other people to decide my boundaries for me?

I put the hard fade on a lot of my male friendships lately. It was a painful experience that tried my willingness to commit and my patience with my own broken-heartedness. But I chose a lifestyle that I think is right, and I think that this decision is right. I just wish I hadn’t had to suffer through the painful cutting-of-parts-of-yourself parts.

Basically, what this comes down to, is that I never want to have to do that again. I know that we all lose friends, and people grow apart. But I took relationships that, though admittedly inappropriate, were central to my life and had been central to my growth, and discarded them. Something about that feels different, especially when it happens en masse.

I’m looking forward and I want to believe that somewhere in my future are friendships that are neither inappropriate nor distanced, but the only way I imagine them is with a lot of boundaries that everyone agrees on and respects. I can’t be friends with guys who think that shomer negiah is stupid. I can’t be friends with guys who don’t care as much about yichud as I do. I take mitzvos seriously, and I expect that of my male friends–or at least some level of mutual respect.

At the same time, I’m so fallible–I make so so many mistakes when it comes to mixed events. I speak out of turn, I make jokes, I can’t help but compete and argue with guys. I guess in every part of growth there’s an element of hypocrisy, where you know that you should be doing more but you can’t bring yourself to step over the line. I really, really want to be on the other side, but this time (unlike all the other times) I don’t know what’s waiting for me, really, or even how to get there. It seems like there are a million different options, and I can’t tell what’s up and what’s down, what leads to the other side and what puts me back five months.

I’m spinning, and spinning, and spinning, and every once in a while I spot the emes, and then I’m thrown back into the dizzy, grayed-out world.