May 30, 2022 Afterword and Goodbye to the Memoir
Update August 2022:
Well, the memoir project is complete! I finished sharing all the pages I had written in 2015.
Thank you all so much who supporting me during the lockdown when I serialized this. It was an adventure.
I’m now removing all chapters. Sorry for those who missed it!
It’s been more than ten years since I set out on my own. It’s been ten brilliant years and ten hellish years. I’ve experienced crushing poverty and enormous joy. There were hard times; times when I juggled working at the insurance firm, airbnbing my home, giving tours, and tutoring — and then it felt like all the freedoms I had worked so hard for were lost to the desperate attempt to stay above water. I’ll never take my freedom for granted, and I keep fighting for it. When I look through the photo albums of years gone by, when I think back to all those memories, I am so grateful for the fight I had in me. I wanted to find a way to experience life instead of performing it for others. I didn’t want anyone’s script, neither of the housewife nor of the ex-Hasidic escapee. Leaving the Hasidic community was one part of the challenge; creating a path that was uniquely my own was a heck of another.
I wound up living in NYC, with its great parks, colorful characters, wild subway and bike adventures, and friendships across race, sex, and religion. Here people can be so many other things beyond their roles as parents and partners, and I’m enchanted by the vibrancy this creates. It is a very flawed society, but I can as much engage with its flaws as with its charms. There’s something very gritty, very open about its rough edges that speaks to me.
I also ended up giving walking tours in the Hasidic community. This still surprises me, even though it’s been my main work for many years. The Hasidic female voice in me thinks it’s outrageously audacious, even crazy. Here I left, changed the whole thing, came back as a self-proclaimed amateur sociologist, how insane! Another Hasidic voice in me says — good! Make money in a good old-school hustle, that’s the best way! But there’s something deeper that drives me. I have a great desire to understand human nature and its societies. A friend and YouTube creator recently expressed to me how deeply he is driven by a love of a city and its culture, and I felt like he spoke for my heart. The Hasidic community is just one piece of the mosaic of cultures that makes up NYC, and because it’s the world of my youth, it’s one of my favorites.
Through this niche, I found a way to comfortably come and go from the Hasidic community. Many people now recognize me as “the tour guide.” This gives me a space to be a part of this scene without needing to conform to the narrow female prescribed roles. It’s been a surprising personal journey. The Hasidic world remains a deep part of me, and I’m grateful to be a part of it. But, always, it’s only a part.
Most of the time, I feel like I’ve moved on to new dramas, new concerns, new adventures. Yes, I should brush up on my Yiddish, I should visit family more often, I should attend more celebratory events. But there’s only so much time in the day. I should, I should. But shouldn’t we all?
And so, it’s been. Ten years plus, and I’m eager to see what the next ten bring.
And so, the chapters are over, and this project is done.
Since this is the end of serializing biweekly chapters, I invite you to cancel your Patreon contribution. I will no longer have new chapters.
I will soon after take it all offline. But for a little bit, just for now, I’ll keep it up. The idea is that you can sign up if you’re interested in reading the memoir and then you cancel your membership once you’re through with it.
But… if you’d like to continue to contribute to the work I do on my blog, YouTube channel, and tours, then I thank you so very much!
I am so grateful to all who helped me in the process of living, writing and sharing this journey. To those who have been on Patreon throughout the bulk of it, I thank you especially! I also want to thank the amazing Shannon Kuta Kelly, who helped so much with serializing this.
Feel free to comment here or write to me at [email protected].
With warm regards,
Frieda / Brooklyn, 2022