After ten years of living in Israel, and still single, I landed in Brooklyn, where hopefully my mazal would change. I’d planned on getting a Masters of Fine Arts, but it was considered sort of odd. (Nobody even knew what the MFA initials stood for.) In the interest of fitting in, I took a job as a secretary, wore pencil skirts – the rage in 1991 – and wore pointy shoes that killed my feet.
The problem was: yeah, I fit in all right, but I’d become boring, a shadow of my vibrant Yerushalyim self. And to what end? Still hadn’t snagged my bashert.
Sukkot was coming. By now I’d sat in too many wonderful families’ sukkot and craved my own. The thought of having a woman’s sukkah on my fairly Yeshivish block made me anxious, but I went ahead and built one anyway. My funkily-decorated sukkah was the hit of the block. One chassidic kid even compared it to a rocket ship. Inside these four wood panels, I felt expansive, not pinched. No, I didn’t meet my bashert right away – that took a few more Sukkot – but I discovered you can use every chag for self-invention, and that if I could build a sukkah, just maybe I could build a self.