Think about when you are in the midst of labor and you are going through the most intense and difficult–yet simultaneously the most meaningful–experience of your life. You are bringing a new human being into the world and you know that you will never, ever, forget these people–the nurses, obstetricians, midwives, and other medical staff–who helped you through this amazing day.
You know how, later on–maybe much later on–you realize that as meaningful as that day was to you, that to the nurses, obstetricians, and midwives who helped you, it was just another work day, and your peak experience wasn’t anything special? Remember how that revelation made you feel kind of sad?
It’s the same with a bar mitzvah.
For us–my husband Arnie, my son Jordan, and me–it all started with Linde, the catering manager at the hotel we’d chosen for Jordan’s bar mitzvah party. We all loved Linde. She was young and hip, and had a tattoo on her leg that she sometimes covered with a bandage when she was trying to look less edgy. She talked a mile a minute, and knew exactly how to plan a bar mitzvah party, and we adored her. We had no idea what we were doing, and she knew exactly what she was doing, and it was a match made in heaven.
And then there was Matt, the sports photographer who shot photos of all the major Boston sports events during the work week, and on weekends, shot bar mitzvahs and weddings to earn extra money. He was cool, calm, and very composed. He specialized in capturing motion–he is a sports photographer, after all. He took some incredible shots at Jordan’s party. We loved him, too.
But I can’t forget Adam either. Adam worked for the entertainment company that we’d hired, and he talked with me for hours, meticulously going over every detail of the four-hour evening bar mitzvah party that we were planning. We talked about the DJ, the schedule, colored socks for the girls, which party favors would be best, how provocative were the dancers, which songs to make the adults happy, which songs to make the kids happy, quiet music during dinner, how long should the photo montage be, which music do we want for the horah, and no way am I going up in that chair again–once was enough. Adam was so calm and professional. He talked me down when I was nervous. He was excited about everything. He was great.
And how could I forget Ilisa? She was an artist, creating the most amazing things out of balloons. Yes–balloons. Instead of flowers, we had balloon sculptures on each table at the party, in blue, purple, black and silver, and a huge J-O-R-D-A-N made out of silver balloon letters hung behind the DJ, and it was perfect.
Kudos to Paul, the incredibly nice guy at the suit place with a deep understanding of teenage boys, who knows how to make them relax in the extremely uncomfortable situation of having to pick out a bar mitzvah suit when they’d rather be playing basketball. And praise to Lee the florist who worked with us – at the last minute – to create beautiful , elegant, yet modest centerpieces to decorate the kiddush lunch at the temple without breaking the bank.
I will never forget these folks, and that amazing day. But very likely they have already forgotten me. These aren’t real relationships, after all. They are working relationships, focused on a very specific goal. And once that goal is accomplished, those relationships end.
It makes me kind of sad to realize that Linde and Matt and Adam and all the others won’t remember Jordan’s special day–they probably won’t remember us at all. To them, we are just another customer. They have moved on to the next event. Similarly, our midwife Jill, and the obstetrician (what was his name?) who ultimately had to deliver Jordan via C-section, most likely don’t remember us. How could they? They have delivered hundreds if not thousands of babies since that day. To us, however, they are in our photos and in our dreams: we will never forget them.