Bungalow Blues // I finally understood how it’s possible to feel lonely in a crowd

as told to Tzippy Lapidus

“Here we are!” my husband announced as we turned off the main highway onto a small dirt road. We stopped in front of a white sign that read “Holiday Hills,” and then drove past it into the main parking lot.

“I can’t believe it!” I said as I got out of the car and stretched, taking a deep breath of country air.

Boy, had I been looking forward to this moment! Living in a tiny two-bedroom basement apartment with three children under the age of four in Brooklyn wasn’t easy. But come summer, it was literally unbearable. We’d finally scraped together enough money to rent a bungalow in the mountains for two months. Looking around at the beautiful grounds, I felt like I was being let out of prison.

“This is the life,” I sighed with pleasure a few hours later as I sat on the porch and sipped a cold drink. I was finally finished unpacking, and we were watching the kids running around on the grass. “I could really get used to this!”

My husband grinned. “Enjoy your eight weeks of vacation while I trek back and forth from the city for the weekends.”

“Yeah, that’s the only bad part of this whole deal,” I said. “I can’t believe I’ll be here by myself during the week with the kids, and I don’t even know anyone.”

“You’ll be fine,” he reassured me. “You’re a social bug! There are 20 families here. By the time I come back for Shabbos, you’ll have a whole new group of friends.”

Famous last words.

The next morning, after waving goodbye to my husband, I got the kids ready to go swimming. I was looking forward to sitting by the pool and socializing, even though I hadn’t met any of the women yet. When I reached the pool area, I saw two ladies lounging on beach chairs.
“Hi,” I greeted them. “My name is Rivkah Greenberger.”

They looked up lazily from their perch.

“Hello,” they replied with a smile, and proceeded to introduce themselves. We played Jewish geography for a few minutes and then there was an awkward silence.

“I guess I’ll be seeing you around,” I said before walking off. On my way to the kiddie pool another woman approached me.

“So you’re the newcomer?” she asked, giving me the once-over.

“Newcomer?” I laughed awkwardly. “Am I the only new person here?”

“Well,” she shrugged, “sort of. The rest of us have been coming here for years.”

“That’s nice,” I replied. So I was the only new kid on the block. How lovely.

“My name is Chavi, by the way.” She then sauntered over to the two other women and joined their discussion.

I stood there by myself as I watched my kids splashing in the pool. Another woman stopped to smile at me.

“I guess you’re Rivkah,” she said. “We heard you were coming.”
“You did?” I asked.

“Yeah, we have a WhatsApp group so we can stay in touch over the winter. One person couldn’t come this year, so we were all wondering who would take over her bungalow.”

A few more people came over to say hello and introduce themselves, but then quickly walked on after making small talk. There were lots of happy shrieks coming from where they were all sitting together.


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