Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Garden of Eden

Honestly I'm scared. At the end of my senior year in college I realized that I didn't get enough of the life experiences I should have. I was always too worried about the immediate future that I couldn't think longer term. I never stopped to ask myself, will I regret these decisions two, five, ten or even twenty years from now? Since my senior year, I've been applying this time-acid test more frequently.

Investment banking is not easy, but will I regret working my ass off when I'm 25 or 30? I don't think so. I'll probably be happy that I put in my time, and paid my dues. Investment banking is a situation where the time-acid test works. But what if it doesn't? This is where it gets scary.

What if I know I'll regret a decision I'm actively making but I stick to it because the alternative is similarly terrible?

Finally when I realized that I should start living my life so I won't regret it, I'm forced to choose between mutually regrettable outcomes: Delilah or a Jewish family. I've walked away from Delilah, and I hate myself for doing it. I’m compromising personal happiness for religion. It’s the most difficult decision I’ve made in my life, and I'm starting to wonder if the reciprocal is just as bad.

I talked to Steve on the weekend and I told him I was seriously considering raising a non-Jewish family. If I made that decision, he asked, will I regret it when I’m 50? I responded, not as much as I’ll regret losing the love of my life at 21.

Now I’m really scared. Where do I go from here? Would She support me?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

You just learn to live with it? I hate lemonade.

"You never get over it. You just learn to live with it. When my Mom died I was seventeen.... You never get over it. You just learn to live with it." These were the words my Dad said to Paul's wife, Toby, and then repeated back to me.

Recently, my family went to visit a friend, Paul, in the Kaiser Permanente, Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Paul always treated my brother and I with kindness and was close to my parents. He was one of three people that attended my parents wedding and he was a medical school buddy with my Dad. Unfortunately, his cancer has spread across his body and made its way into his lungs and throat. He also has pneumonia. Outside his room I saw him with tubes in his arms and down his throat. It scared me. He didn't look anything like the way I knew him from childhood memories. I didn't recognize him without a smile on his face.

My parents led the way into this room. My Dad and Mom helped him move his feet back unto his pillows. He was barely conscious, and had a blank stare that moved between the three of us. I felt like a scared kid. I didn't know what to say, I didn't know what to do, and my parents did everything. My parents kept on saying, "Keep on fighting, Paul. You're so strong. Keep on fighting." His eyes barely open, he stared straight into me. What do you do when you're staring into someone's death? I don't have an answer, so I forced a smile.

When my Pop Pop told me that my visit would be the last time I saw him, we cried, we hugged and we smiled. It still brings tears to my eyes, thinking about him slowly waving from the front porch with his sunken eyes. The same eyes, that Paul had.

What's equally sad is what Paul leaves behind. While the experience must be very painful for my parents, it's tragic that he leaves behind a wife and two daughters, one in college and the other in high school. While I believe or at least hope that the twenties is the most difficult period in my life as I define myself through work and the companion I choose, (the naive understanding of course is that afterwards is smooth sailing) what are you supposed to do when you have to reset your life at 55? I'm 21 and it certainly puts bitching about my life in perspective. I can't begin to imagine the fear and pain that Paul's wife, Toby is experiencing. What is she supposed to do? How can she "learn to live with it?" Empty chairs and empty tables all over again.


Generally, I like the question that when life tosses a lemon, or in this case, a crate of lemons, how do you make lemonade? I see what's going on with Paul and his family and it's beautiful to see their friends showing support. My parents are being true friends and they're a role model for the commitments I should show to my partners. In short, while it's certainly no cosmic balance, I'm actively reflecting on this tragic event to show my appreciation for friends and family. It's petty, but it's an attempt. My mom wanted to play cards with me last night, and I really didn't have time, but I did anyways. She "beat" me. I kissed her on the fore-head when I said goodnight. I said the Shema with my dad every night that I saw him this past week. Lastly, I was lucky enough to speak with my brother on Friday night and Banrock, soon to be Mr. and Mrs. Banrock, on Saturday.


I spoke to Banrock on Saturday and told him that I wasn't going to be able to make it to his wedding. I feel like shit about it. If you're not making the time for life partners, who are you supposed to do it for? For a list of reasons, I can't. But here's where the story gets interesting. Banrock responded, "Charlie, I missed a lot of weddings in my time. Next time your out in Manhattan, you'll toast us." Wow, another example of Banrock giving better than he gets.

What an amazing friend. Instead of saying, "oh what a shame," or "I can't believe you can't make it especially given that you said you would," he makes an effort to make me feel less rotten about it. I'm so lucky to have such great partners and role models, and I'll do whatever I can to keep them.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Got off the phone...

So I just got off the phone with Delilah. It hurt at first. I talked to my parents. Unfortunately, my Dad, is more than a little thick headed on the whole issue. However, my Mom did share a very interesting story. Before marrying, my parents dated for about five years in Manhattan. My Dad broke up with my Mom when he left for California. Main reason being that my Mom refused to trek westward without a marriage proposal. So they split. And they were split for about 4 months. My Mom was heartbroken and my Dad was a bachelor. Despite the way Adam Sandler portrays bachelorhood in the movies, in life it sucks. I could write a whole post on bachelorhood and it limits, but one image should do the trick: 30-year old men going to college bars hoping to get lucky. (In contrast, I hope to have a least two kids by the time I'm 30, and I'm not talking about hook-ups with consequences.) It's not a pretty sight and it seriously scares the shit out of me. Back to my parents...At this point, my Dad realized he was being an idiot, apparently it runs in the family, and knowing that my mom was very special and nurturing, proposed. Happily ever after.

Back to Modern Era

It was a delight hearing her voice. I enjoyed opening up to her, and I really enjoyed that she was honest with me. For example...

She was very upset with me and I definitely didn't expect it. I didn't realize how much I had offended her by canceling our graduation plans. She was supposed to attend my graduation breakfast, and I was supposed to attend her ceremony. Instead, I canceled on both accounts. I wish I had the emotional fortitude to have gone, but what she didn't realize was that I completely broke down the day she graduated. I mourned all day. I sobbed all day. I cried in the shower, and the one time I walked out of my room I cried sitting in the park. I don't know what else I could have done.

She also hinted at the fact that since breaking up it's become more clear to her that she wouldn't convert. While this was the part that initially hurt when I got off the phone, it crystallizes the limits of our relationship and now brings a broad smile to my face. Louis, I think this may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Follow Up

Despite everything I've written about recognizing that Delilah's not the one for me, I still find myself hoping that she would convert. It's a thin line between missing her and everything else, but in truth, it's a blur. I miss everything we had and I'd do anything but convert to get it.

Having a partner is equal in importance to having a family. I can't sacrifice my family for her, and unfortunately, I can't ask her to do the same. Anything else, anything, would have been fair game. Whatever she'd want, I would have given. This emotional isolation is unbearable and I'm cracking at the seams. I need a partner, and we were perfect together.

I think I Love My Wife...

I only saw about five minutes of the movie but a great quote from it was:

"You can lose a lot of money by chasing women, but you'll never lose women by chasing money."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


When I let my mind drift, I have flashbacks of my Ex, “Delilah.” One school break, I drove down to Carlsbad, her home town. She was still working and I decided to surprise her. She was elated. While she didn’t get off work for at least another hour, I casually walked around the store while observing how she engaged customers. After she locked up, I practically jumped on her in a festering display of public affection. I was so enamored; it was one of the few times when she told me to hold off. After walking her to her car, I didn’t want to leave her. She understood, and she liked it. I was only too happy to give her my love, and she did the same for me.

Loving someone who loved me in return was one of the fullest "life" experiences I’ve had. (For future reference, now that it’s over, I can also say a few things: Bachelor life is over-rated and while I miss being in love, I know what to look forward to.) Remembering the emotions of loving someone higher than the sky is a memory I need to keep for a rainy day. It’s a great feeling and another reason to enjoy life.

While I’ve been having a lot of flashbacks of Delilah, I’m also forgetting them. I wish I could just write them all down, or copy them to a jump drive for later viewing. Unfortunately, I can’t. It makes me sad to think that a fleeting moment sitting on the toilet may be the last times I remember what was once a precious memory between lovers. Human nature is cruel: When I couldn’t forget these memories, they were too long and painful. Now that I’m starting to lose them, they’re too short and fading. Forgetting these are my true losses and as they said in "Swingers," I will miss the pain. The experiences are no different, but my emotions towards them have changed. They no longer reflect who I’ve lost, but how much I’ve gained.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


I called my Ex today. I didn't like that I was spending my free time thinking about the fact that I was waiting for her to call. I'd rather just make the call and say to myself, I called because I'm curious to hear how you're doing but I understand if you don't call me back.

If she calls back, great, we talk for a half hour, we catch up and that's that. No, "we have to get together sometime," or " would you like to catch up over lunch?" I have no ulterior motive of getting back together. I'm not looking to meet her and I accept that we probably won't date again. At this point, my call is the same reason that I speak to my other Ex: She was once a love, it didn't work out, maybe she can be a friend.

Then again, I understand if she doesn't call back. She may still miss me or maybe she thinks I still have feelings for her. I have a lot of feelings, especially for our memories together, but I don't miss her anymore. I miss having a companion. I miss waking up next to someone. I miss having someone to call at anytime, high or low. She was a great companion, but she's not for me.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Skot , My Ex, and a brief aside...

In my class of recently hired analysts there is a star pupil named "Skot."

Skot knows what he's supposed to do. Skot knows how to do it. And Skot does it very well.

In contrast, I don't know what I'm supposed to do. I don't know how to do it. And I'm certainly not doing it very well.

As I learn and catch up, I hope to follow John Wooden's model. To paraphrase: success is peace of mind in doing the best you can under the conditions that exist. That's all I can do.


On a different front, I've been thinking much clearer about my Ex. For example, if she were interested in what was going on in my life she'd call. This thought should allay any temptation to contact her or indirectly update her on my life through some online venue like facebook or email. Similarly, as tempted as I've been, I shouldn't call her because I don't want to settle on friendship. I left the last email and the ball is in her court. Lastly, and probably most important, just because I believe that we would have had a wonderful marriage if she converted doesn't mean she does. If she converted, and it wasn't a great cost to her and her family, she would have. We would soon be married, and I'd have the companion I'm looking for in life. Bottom line is that she believes it would hurt her and her family and I shouldn't wish that on her, especially since she was once a partner in my life.


I'm still semi-surprised that I think about her in my free time. Almost the second I get into my car on the drive back, she pops into my head. She also rents my mind in the down moments on the weekend. A small part of it is that thinking about my Ex is so different compared to what I do most of the day. I also think the demands of the job lead me to wanting a life partner even more than usual. At the end of a sixteen hour day, I'd love to decompress with a hug followed by a shower, a warm meal and talking over dessert. Maybe I miss the companionship more than the individual. After all, it's nice to cuddle and wake up next to a companion on a regular basis. In due time, not only will I have more life experiences, but I'll ultimately marry someone who makes me happy and hopefully, I can make proud.