I can't stop crying, because the relationship between Alma and Ambrose hit the Mother of All Nerves.
Upon first meeting of the character of Ambrose, I immediately began to cry. I knew what was coming, because I lived it in the weirdest and most painful way with the man to whom I was recently married, and then suddenly divorced 11 months later, after a humiliating scandal.
The half-mad man-child, the one whose spiritual longing took him outside the norms, the one whose own G*d-given human longings became subsumed to the habit of polarizing extremes, the one whose horror of impurity extended to his own natural physicality.
As I read the book, I was initially thrilled for Alma to have found a true friend, someone as extreme as she in both intellect and imagination, someone who demonstrated the highest excellence and originality in his own chosen (and extremely esoteric) work, someone who took delight in her presence and could soar with her and she with him.
I was hoping they'd be the best of friends forever, but alas, each their own frail humanity, unfulfilled passions and long-overdue urgent need for communion created a moment where both of them felt, indeed, SUPERNATURALLY ARTICULATED and understood that they were for each other.
In such a way, in such a time and culture (and how ironic that the society my ex-husband and I lived in, that of Orthodox Judaism in modern-day Israel, was and is in much ways identical to the 19th Century, wherein the story of Alma and Ambrose took place) they had no choice but to marry.
What happens next, dear readers, I shall not spoil for you, nor is this post meant as a book review, simply a jumping-off point to the fountain of grief that was triggered by reading how Alma and Ambrose alas, could not simply have left it at glorious friendship of two distinctly unique individuals.
Because of the impossibility of basic, honest communication between two people so completely caught up in their own internal worlds, a great misunderstanding occurred - one that would have life-altering repercussions.
Alma felt fundamentally rejected and socially humiliated, and banished her husband - who, like mine, was incapable of initiating his own destiny but instead reacted or adapted to what was put in front of him by those with stronger wills - to the other side of the world than herself.
As for me, feeling fundamentally betrayed, socially humiliated AND responsible for harm that came to others because I not only sanctioned but promoted him to the world, in the course of banishing my former husband to the outermost limits of the outermost limits, both socially and psychically, I've lost the friend I used to have - my weird, quirky and sweet friend who used to come over to my house every week for two years to record Torah programming for my Internet Radio Station that reflected how his original mind and my original mind could riff and soar together.
"Like Angels," Ambrose would have said with a dazzling smile. But my former husband alas, was no angel - although he desperately wanted to be.
What happens to Ambrose, what happens to Alma subsequent to that, the role that sexual frustration, unexpressed desire, the subsuming of healthy human connectivity to the neo-pagan conceit that flesh and spirit are essentially incompatible, and the suffering that occurs when the natural progression of human relationships is thwarted by philosophies, fears and conventions - no, I shall not spoil for you, dear reader.
But, like the character of Alma, I MUST understand. I cannot rest until I KNOW, no matter the cost to my serenity, peace of mind, health or happiness. So my search to uncover and understand WHAT, WHY and HOW this bit of airy fluff caught me and swung me about and sent me flying in another direction altogether, when I find clues, I must follow them.
Because it's not the airy fluff, or the lost friend that I'm weeping for. It's the utter destruction of my dearest dream, the one I invested everything into, the one closest to my heart, that I waited a lifetime to realize - a marriage/partnership with a spiritual mate / mentor / partner / participant. Because the weight of mere airy fluff was enough to crush and destroy that for which I saved an entire lifetime.
Shall I continue to weep for what, at the end of all things, may simply have turned out to be a bit of airy fluff that passed through my life, nothing more? No, 'tis not that for which I weep, for I am in fact a woman of substance, and women of substance don't weep for fluff.
The tears come from the fundamental fear that after this last debacle, I may never rebuild enough trust in MYSELF, ever again, to be able to share an intimate relationship with another person, or to have a life-partner.
Tears dry when dead dreams crumble into dust and blow away.
Light comes when that which casts a shadow is removed.
Dreams come when fear hibernates like a bear in his wintery cave.
Newness comes through the birth canal of hope, wet and squalling to be soothed.
Apparently, it is quite the biological and spiritual fact that one must die to the old to be born to the new. And since I'm not even halfway done with my life, I'm not ready to give up on the hope of newness.
Thanks Elizabeth Gilbert, for inadvertently writing the book that gave me the illumination I needed to take this battle for my life to a higher level.