I see you there, stalking the Facebook pics of a random friend you met at camp when you were fourteen.
And I see you, too, stalking the wall of that guy you met in Israel to catch e-glimpses of his friends at Bar Ilan and IDC.
Isn’t the internet fun? We can frolic anonymously through pages of information about the lives of people who will never know. Or, at least we hope they will never know, for fear of being arrested and excommunicated.
The story starts back in chilly weather. I sailed on the internet seas and stalked the wall of a friend of mine, who I met in a hotel lobby in the Holy Land. She is involved in international Israeli activism, and through her page, I happened upon the profile of an Australian gal involved in Jewish student life at the University of Melbourne, who seemed to spend entirely too much time in exotic locales such as Japan, New Zealand and Alaska. Naturally, I stalked her travels, providing much fodder for many a daydream.
Fast-forward a few months when snow covers the ground. I escaped the suburbs to meet a friend in Manhattan for lunch, but had an hour to kill betwixt exiting Penn Station and entering the subway. I slid up 34th Street into Macy’s and entertained myself by aimlessly wandering through the store.
Wandering through the second floor, I stopped here and there to browse through the aisles and just… think. While pawing the dresses, I wondered if I should buy something just in case I had somewhere fancy to go in the near future. But what if buying the dress jinxed the future possibilities of nice occasions? On the opposite side of the coin, what if buying the dress would put in motion precisely the things that would have to occur in order to make those fancy occasions happen? Where are those Three Witches hiding out, and could they spare some time for my inquiry?
I wandered on, forgetting about the dress and focusing on the mysteries of fate. I guess anything can and will happen, I thought…
Someone was sitting with her legs crossed on a platform beneath two well-dressed mannequins. As she came into focus, I thought she looked more and more like… no way… what kind of insane joke is this…
Well hello there, Australian gal. The twenty-something certainly looked just like the pictures, and the accent she and her male pal spoke with gave away their country of origin. Trying not to be too creepy, I said nothing more than, “Awesome accent!” while she laughed with her friend and made my way to the exit in a mix of shock and wonder.
There are various messages to be taken from this tale: People can be put face to face with you by a higher power, it’s just a matter of leaving your house and getting out into the world. (Question: Do we write the pages of our story or is the story already written and we are merely flipping the pages by walking forwards in life?) Back in yeshiva, we learned that life is like a tapestry, but people are rarely privy to the backstitches. This time, I saw the backstitching in all its glory. I frequently kvetch and moan about how divided we are as Jews, but I saw how the universe can connect two Jews from different ends of the earth and have them meet in the middle. People are like the thoughts that ping-pong around in our heads as we shop for dresses or otherwise go about our daily lives--We are always moving. If we make more of an effort to stop each other once in a while, we might be surprised at the results.
Connection. Connection. Connection.
And now, to connect my tale to a theme of this here blog: If different Jews from all around the world could just overlook the differences, we would be an unstoppable force. Human connection and relationships make the world go round. Imagine if we could find each other and band together. Imagine the possibilities.
(PS For any skeptics out there, yes, it was actually the girl from the bottomless pit that is Facebook. I checked her page after the occurrence and she had a new album of pictures up from her trip to New York. What are the odds, eh?)