...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Setting the date

First thing you do, drive right through that Holland Tunnel,
Pay your toll to the soul on the other side.
Pick up your ticket, everything will be all right...


That's from the song "Holland Tunnel" by John Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas), from his solo album "John the Wolf King of L.A." Daniel and I saw The Squid and the Whale a few months ago, and then Daniel found the soundtrack at the library; both are wonderful. "Holland Tunnel" is my favorite song off of the soundtrack. It's hard to explain exactly how good it is without hearing it; Daniel suggested that one of the reasons it's such a compelling song is that the kind of soporific accompaniment is so evocative of aimlessly traveling. One blog I read suggested that it's meaningful as kind of a prequel to "California Dreamin'." For me, the line "Pay your toll to the soul on the other side" evokes the sense of leaving, of crossing a boundary and beginning to manifest a new identity: meeting your soul on the other side. The "soul on the other side" of the tunnel could be the toll-taker, but it could also be your new manifestation of yourself--the whole "you never step in the same river twice" kind of thing. There's a sense of uncertainty, maybe some sacrifice ("paying your toll") but at the same time the assurance that "everything will be all right."

If the Bible had a soundtrack, "Holland Tunnel" might be playing when God tells Abram "Lech lecha!" Go take yourself out of the land of your father and go to the land that I will show you. Abram becomes Abraham, Sarai becomes Sarah: they meet their souls on the other side.

Today, Reb Aryeh and I set the date for my conversion. He suggested some time in early December, tying it to Chanukah, a holiday that's all about dedication. That sounded okay, but I asked if we could do it earlier, since I'm anxious to make it official. We started looking at the calendar, and suddenly the first full week of November leapt out: the week when the Torah portion of Lech lecha will be read. What more perfect time for conversion, for my own personal lech lecha, could there be? God willing, on November 2 I will appear before the bet din (religious court) and undergo the mikvah for conversion (immersion in a body of water--kind of like Jewish baptism).

I can't wait to meet that soul. Drive, baby, drive.