I did something today I had never done before.
I began the morning by driving up 128 to Beverly for a presentation at Temple Bnai Abraham. When I finished up at 10:45, I had a decision- to take 128 all the way back down, or to shoot down Route 1, zip over the Tobin Bridge, and then head out to Newton.
It was a no-brainer. In my entire life of driving around Boston I’d never driven over the Tobin Bridge, so that’s just what I did. And despite the rather uninspiring landscape of Route 1, the ride over the Mystic River and the panorama of Charlestown, the TD Garden, and the Zakim Bridge opening up before me was pretty special and quite beautiful.
Then, even though the Pike is faster, I took the long way on Storrow Drive out to Newton. It’s a drive I’ve made since my first days with my license. I’ve always loved the curves of the road, the buildings, the river, and the runners, and today the sunshine made the whole experience shimmer even more. It was just like how I felt back when I was 16 ½ and driving that road for the first time.
Taking 128 today would have been quicker. But why should I have made that drive down 128 when I had the chance to do something brand-new and also take my favorite drive along Storrow to work?
Judaism grapples with this issue a lot- how do we find new ways to get that tingly feeling in our fairly scripted celebrations so that they feel new or special?
So with my driving experience today fresh in my mind, here’s my Boston area roadways, Traffic-on-the-3s lowdown on my usual Passover seders.
The Route 128 of my seder is the magid in my parents’ haggadah. It’s long, it’s annoying, it takes forever, and it’s relatively joyless. But there are highlights in both that you can count on- the Cambridge Reservoir in Waltham is always beautiful and I do love singing Mah l’cha hayam and Dayenu. But, just like my daily commute, the magid just isn’t that awesome.
The Storrow Drive of my seder is when we open the door for Elijah. Almost every year I am the one to open the door for his arrival and I always loved standing outside in the cool evening, breathing in the refreshing air and taking a break from the food and the stuffiness of the seder. Driving on Storrow and opening the door for Elijah? Can’t go wrong with either one.
And my Tobin Bridge? Who knows what it will be this year. There are easy answers- like my kids singing the Four Questions or watching my oldest son interact with my parents in a very sweet way, but it’s better to be surprised. Passover, for some reason, always has something in store for me. Last year I had a seder in Jerusalem, once I had one in Sydney, and once I ended up nearly breaking my ankle and almost missing the whole thing. The night of the first seder in 2007 is when our offer to buy our house was accepted, my first seder ever in 1978 was when I was able to hear for the first time, and there are a handful of other magical moments that always seem to coincide with the holiday.
And while I can’t expect something amazing to happen again this year, you can bet I’ll be looking for my Tobin Bridge tomorrow night as we usher in the holiday. I hope you all find something in Passover this year that will be unique and unprecedented and bring you joy.
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