Friday night dinner at the Karp-Adler’s is usually a cacophony of sound. If only one solo voice can be heard, unlike “normal” families, something is seriously wrong. Shabbat dinner is an opportunity to exercise the volume of one’s vocals and one must shout above the others in order to be heard. There are, of course, diminuendos during the evening, but these are short lived as numerous discussions occur simultaneously. There is no formal etiquette of speaking solely to those positioned on either side or opposite you and it is perfectly legitimate to shout across the table, hop between conversations or interrupt others. When you have grown up within this variety of family, you believe it to be the archetype and know no different. Babble and bustle is homely and commonplace.
I have only truly appreciated how much of an integral part of me this obstreperous discourse is since I have been removed from it. Tonight when my family entertains, although every individual will visit me and amuse me, I will be upstairs and everyone else will be eating downstairs. I will hear the commotion, but be too far away to understand it. However, if the flurry of excitement were to be brought upstairs, it would be overwhelming. There is no pleasing me. This period of ill health has made feel, in many ways, like a young child again. In my constant dependence on others, and also, in that terrible feeling of being left out. The noise may be unruly and dissonant, but it is a part of my family and my culture that I love and sincerely miss.