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I used to sit in my room staring at the wall, hoping for action, drama, comedy, or even romance. I did experience all of these things eventually, but through a screen, not directly. Every Saturday night was always another night at the movies. The Jewish Sabbath would end and it was time for me to recharge my batteries. A movie was something to look forward to during the gruelingly long and boring hours of prayers and nothingness, before I could truly appreciate the rest. As soon as the sun set, I waited outside my house for three stars to appear. According to biblical texts, three stars meant the Sabbath was over. I could then turn on the lights, watch television, or even write. I was so anxious for those three stars to appear that it felt like an eternity. Finally, those three glorious stars would appear and lead me back into the house. Everything was normal again; everything felt like it was in my control, once again.
My mother and I then always drove to pick up Abba from the synagogue. I never called my father Dad; he was always Abba to me (Hebrew for father). One time, in defiance, my sister decided to call him Dad and he didn’t react well. He hoped to be everything American, except Dad.
Every minute I had to wait for him was another hour of emptiness, but Abba promised an end to it. Abba promised me a movie every Saturday night, an escape to another story. One night I was Tom Cruise fighting off the bad guys in Mission Impossible; another night I was Jackie Chan, investigating a crime and mangling the criminals. These movies gave me thoughts, inspirations, aspirations and quality time with my father. When I look back on these times, which I consider to be the happiest and most innocent of my life, I can only smile.
A few years after my pre-teen movie-watching days, everything changed. The Saturday night tradition ended, but it wasn’t my father who ended it. I did. As all children do, I grew up and started to spend all my time with friends. I continued the tradition of Saturday night movies, but always with a friend. My father would come home from temple, stars shining, to find my room empty, already at the theater. I never thought that I left my father; I just thought that we could spend time together elsewhere.
Life went on and I grew further and further apart from my father, and he grew further from my mother and eventually me and my siblings. Finally, my parents separated like bacteria. We were no longer united; I would spend one weekend at my mom’s, breaking the Sabbath, and the other with my father, sitting in a chair for three hours and eventually in my bed for another five just waiting for the Sabbath to end. I no longer stood outside the house looking at the sky waiting for those stars. Now, I spent those last few minutes confined in my room waiting for the time to pass and life to resume.
Looking back, I never realized I had the capacity to hurt my father or how a movie every Saturday night could be such a meaningful tradition. We were driven further apart until one day it felt like we were roommates.
As time passed by, I grew up. I realized a passion for film, but I know now that if it weren’t for Abba and those Saturday nights, I may have never found it. As an aspiring filmmaker, I laugh at the movies I used to adore as a little boy and finally appreciate them for the effect they had on me. I only wish that I could go back and rekindle the tradition that shaped my life and my relationship with my father. I should have known that the best relationship anyone can have is family. And as I am about to bid farewell to my family and leave for college, I can’t help but owe Abba my gratitude for a simple Saturday night movie.
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