To protect the innocent, some names may have been changed.
Doc and I met at my job about a year and a half ago. To me, she is quite probably one of the most amazing people I’d ever met. A high energy magnetic personality, it was hard not to absolutely revel spending whatever time I could chatting with her and enjoying stories of her life and experiences. In fact, she was really only a handful of years ahead of me in terms of my life, so for me, it felt a little like looking into my own future (though she was far more adventurous than I’d ever been). Oh yeah, and she’s Orthodox, which ended up being in and of itself a blessing.
I felt like I’d bonded with her extremely quickly (I’ve always made friends faster than many people are comfortable with), so in perhaps the first time I dropped in to see her on a purely social visit (I do computer work, and I was working on repairing her system), I let go of what was probably the biggest secret of my life. I’m a trans woman – at the time, I was still not full time, and outside of my immediate friends and two very tight lipped and reliable family members, I had told only one other person, My Michelle.
In a massive relief, she was both curious, and she was very supportive and in a way, happy for me. Relatively quickly, she invited me over to her house for Shabbat. I was nervous, because she insisted that if I were comfortable, I should come dressed as Kathryn, which I really hadn’t done much to places where people knew me yet. Still, she and her husband were so welcoming to me, and I really felt very lucky to have met them.
Until this time, though I saw some beauty in Judaism, I also saw a great deal of restriction and even loss of freedom and choice. Doc showed me that though there was some restriction, there was also a great usefulness and a hidden gift within many of the things I saw as negatives. Shabbat, for example, felt restrictive to me – the inability to do anything, or go anywhere not in walking distance, that was hard for me to accept. Instead, she pointed out to me how she and her husband have such intensely busy lives, that were it not for this mandatory day of rest, she’d never get a day of downtime.
Sitting there with her, playing with her baby girl, and just chatting, enjoying such a genuine person’s company, it was easy for me to see what she meant. I think this was when I was first hooked, when I felt that gentle guide in the right direction.
Over the year or so since I’ve been going to visit her at her home, and since we’ve become, I dare say it, close friends, I’ve seen so much that might otherwise be regarded as private and sacred. I’ve been privileged enough to be able to help her through a period of particular difficulty for her, staying at her home, for her sake, and once, for my own safety. I cannot quite express everything she’s done for or meant to me, but in all honesty – I owe her so much. In large part, I even owe her my new faith and religion.