(a few reflections from this weekend)
what’s in a name? my name is asher lev.
i love traveling, and i especially love flying. as i accrue frequent flyer mileage, i become more set in my airport travel ways; at least i did until asher lev. what i mean is this: i know i need two bins for the security check. i pick my airport attire strategically. i rarely make conversation on a plane. i rarely do anything…save for sleep. i occasionally pull out the real simple and catch up on some quick cleaning tips or a fun recipe; but that puts me into sweet dreams in no time, and i wake up during the initial descent, marking another successful flight.
the avoid-eye-contact-and-conversation-and-fall-asleep-fast routine went out the window when i picked up potok’s work. already twenty pages in, i thought i’d slowly make my way through the book by the end of the quarter. you know, taking my time. but no such luck. potok paints a picture (pun intended) of struggle, tradition, family, and passion in the gripping story of a little hasid. i had to put the book down when asher reaches his bar mitzvah, when he meets jacob kahn. i picked it up again for the return flight, and as i closed the book covers i ended the work with more questions than when i started.
tensions. where is one freed from aesthetic blindness? how does one reconcile the traditions of art and faith? what are the limits to our expressions of suffering? how do self-identity and corporate identity co-exist? is there such a thing as self-identity?
the hasidic community of brooklyn lived in these tensions, and they captured my imagination for the entirety of my flights.
what’s in a name? wedding weekend.
the whole purpose of my aforementioned traveling was to be a part of the wedding of my dear friend brittany and her fiance, brian. the trip was filled with several reunions. i spent my first night in peachtree city with jen and john phillips, reminiscing in our traditional style: with a pint of ice cream per person and lots of laughter. the next day i had lunch with the always honest brandon berry. we were both reacquainted with flatbreads and dessert from season’s 52 as i tried to justify to brandon my own conflicting tensions. i’m not sure how well i fared (or if i was merely trying to convince myself and not brandon; asher lev lived through his tensions better than i), but it was a delightful treat to catch up in atlanta, even if only for lunch.
and then a lively rehearsal and dinner followed by saturday’s wedding celebration. britt, or sparrow as i call her, has been one of my closest friends since we were in kindergarten, and our families are still very close. “muh sparrow” was a beautiful bride, absolutely giddy to declare her commitment to brian and change her name (even if the initials stay the same). throughout the weekend, a number of people remarked on how stress-free the wedding planning transpired. it is a testament to ‘bribri’–as their small group friends aptly named them–and their infectious joy to have seen such a grand celebration come together so effortlessly.
modesty rails, south georgia drawls with frequent use of the word “literally”, dancing, and beatiful people. the wedding was as fun as it was special. i’m so excited for mr. and mrs. brian chambers!
what’s in a name? city love.
the recurring line in john mayer’s song of the same title says “and i can’t remember life before her name.” i have my fair share of memories before crossing the georgia state line, but the place nonetheless holds a firm spot in my heart. the whirlwind weekend was spent in my home away from home, the atl. my college years took place ninety miles south of hotlanta, and i have great memories driving up to the city: for 722 gatherings in alpharetta, to visit the sparrow in buckhead, passion ’07 at the gwcc/phillips, or driving through atlanta on my way elsewhere. .
landmarks seen from 75 such as turner field, the (old) ford plant, gsu, tech, and yes, even the varsity hit a nostalgic nerve in me, and the trip gave me renewed excitement for what’s ahead in the not-so distant future. perhaps my time in the atl also struck that restlessness chord, too…
that’s alright. my current city love is out here where the tea is unsweet and the pace never slows. but i remember life before la. and that life was the atl. a little georgia on my mind.
what’s in a name? asher lev. brittany nicole chambers. atlanta.
hardly meaningless nomenclature–all so sweet.
oh, and i still wonder about the outcome to that verdict-less life. with a smile on–and with a little help from asher lev–i’ll quietly hum yet another timeless question: