Holy On My Own by Caroline Rothstein
Self-love is sobbing fetal position on the
brown wooden paneled floor of my bedroom
in Bushwick the night before I move out;
my torso prostrating back in on myself;
my body, the only G-d in sight.
Self-love is waking up at 5:00 a.m.
at my mother's cousins' in New Jersey
on the coldest day of winter and carrying
three duffle bags, 10 boxes, my hula-hoop,
three garment bags, and half a dozen crates
up 8 feet of stairs at Manhattan Mini Storage
by myself, on a weekday, in leather boots.
Self-love is the ocean. Is folding my blue jeans
on a rock. Is leaving my cell phone in a pocket.
Is soaking my bare soles in the sun tucked
sand. Is placing my right foot on the inner flesh
of my left thigh and opening my arms to the sky.
In my underwear. And a tank top. And saying,
holy Hallelujah, look at what I've found.
Self-love is moving to New Jersey. And
back to Manhattan. And to Sarah's couch in
Brooklyn after three landlords in Queens say
no. Because I'm an artist. Because I'm a single
woman. Because I freelance. Because I am
too sturdy to be knocked to the ground.
Self-love is moving everything out of storage
in my black platform wedges and Forever 21
dress mere hours before the first night of Pesach
and here is me, my own Moses, parting the Red Sea.
Self-love is two years later. Is two more dances
around the sun. Is too many more months than
anticipated wandering in the desert. Still in
Canaan. Still waiting for the tablets from Sinai.
Still waiting for the spies to tell me what
I'm too afraid to find within myself.
Self-love is being 32 and single. Is being 32
and single. Is being 32 and single and four
weddings in a row. And signing five ketubahs
And standing up and standing up and standing
up. And getting my period. And getting my
period. And standing up. And dancing the
hora. And signing a ketubah. And dancing
the hora. And signing a ketubah. And dancing
the hora. And standing up. And watching my
News Feed. And watching my News Feed.
And still waking up alone.
Self-love is tucking myself to sleep in
the middle of my queen-sized bed and
still knowing I am strong. Is waking up
in Harlem. Is remembering Brooklyn. Is
prostrating to my torso. Is prostrating to
my womb. Is knowing that possibility may,
in fact, be one hell of a magnificent God, but
oh, how that golden calf creates idols. How
too that burning bush is but a metaphor. How
the only way out of this exodus desert dance
is feeling whole, holy on my own.
Caroline Rothstein (https://www.carolinerothstein.com/) is a New York City-based award-winning writer, poet, performer and educator. Her work has appeared in Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, BuzzFeed, NYLON, Narratively, The Forward, Kveller, and elsewhere. She was a member of the 2010 Nuyorican Poets Cafe slam team, which placed second at the 2010 National Poetry Slam, and is a Youth Mentor at Urban Word NYC.
[email protected] is a project of Custom & Craft Jewish Rituals, Inc (EIN: 82-4765805), a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt California public benefit corporation. Your gift is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
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