For three years I wandered. For three years after college, I traveled the world, I tried strange food, I moved across the country, I lived with roommates who weren’t quite right, I stayed out late with new friends, and I came home quietly at night when others were asleep. And for three years, the mezuzot my mother gave me stayed in the bottom of my jewelry box. For the last three years, I had places to stay, but I had nowhere to call home.
This summer, a friend and I decided to find a group of roommates and move into a big house together. There was something that felt good about the plan, something thrilling and comforting at the same time, something that gave me the faintest hope that my wandering was coming to a close—however, I was still too wary to dream. The house was lovely, but we were finding roommates through craigslist, and I was still three thousand miles away from most of my family. The friend I was planning on living with wasn’t Jewish, and I was afraid I’d be the only Jewish person in the household.
How could I have a home for my mezuzot if I was the only Jewish one in the household? No one would know what they were or why they were important. I would say the prayers alone, and my new housemates wouldn’t understand the Hebrew. They might think I was some kind of Bible thumping religious zealot or trying to convert them—I was lonely just thinking about it.
But once I met our fabulous new housemates face to face, I became a little more comfortable. Little by little, the house started coming together, and by the time September 1st rolled around, I found myself taking my mezuzot out of the jewelry box and bringing them to our first housemate dinner. I was tired of wandering, and I was willing to brave my housemates thinking I was a little nuts if it meant my mezuzot could see the light of day.
As it turned out, my housemates did not think I was nuts.
“Oh I’ve seen these things!”
“What do we call them again?”
“We kiss it, right?”
“What does it mean?”
“What if we’re carrying groceries?”
“Do we kiss it with our lips?”
“Ha! Yeah, how friendly can we get here?”
They were hilarious and sweet, and they insisted upon putting them up right away. We stood on the front porch together, and as they passed me the hammer and asked questions, I explained to the best of my ability what putting a mezuzah up meant to me.
“It tells me to be mindful when I come in the door. It says that this is special, that this is right… I don’t know, I mean, it just says…” I paused, suddenly overcome by emotion. I looked around at their faces, so new to me, but gentle and warm and loving, looking forward to a new year, looking forward to a year with my mezuzot… I realized that it was right, that my period of wandering was coming to a close, and that there I was, finally.