My twelfth year was an interesting one, all I really wanted were boobs and a deeper voice like all of my classmates, but unfortunately that wasn’t to be. I also began preparing for my Bat-Mitzvah, and would practice the vowel-less Torah verses with Mitchi who would always end up falling into a pit of laughter because hearing me speak Hebrew was apparently “hilarious. “You heard Alex and I speak in Hebrew all the time,” I pointed out, and Mitchi would immediately tense up. “What does any of this have to do with her?” he would ask whenever I brought her up. Michael Jackson was arrested for child molestation again, I started drinking alcohol, had tried ecstasy, and sniffed glue. My parents had no idea I was doing any of these things, Mitchi however, was a lot worse off than me and it was becoming increasingly difficult to hide.
A couple of weeks before I turned thirteen, and had myBat-Mitzvah I went up to Mitchi to ask him an important question. “You want me to be your DATE!” He said and spat out the vodka we (well mostly him) were sipping on at the beach. “Well if you say no I’ll have to ask a boy in my class, and that would suck,” I told him and Mitchi giggled. “Ask Elisa,” “shut up,” Elisa had come out as a lesbian a few months ago, and she was the friend I was with when I wanted to get away from Mitchi’s ever growing love for drugs and alcohol. “Of course I’ll be your date!” Mitchi said happily. “Okay good! Just no drugs and alcohol okay?” I asked him, and he started laughing again.“What is this? A sober party?” he asked. “That’s exactly what it is, plus your parents, my parents and a bunch of other people’s parents will be there,” I pointed out. “True, well don’t worry we’ll still have fun,” he said reassuringly. “I’m not worried, and I hope you’re not either,” I said to him,even though I could tell by the look on his face that a night without drugs or alcohol seemed terrifying.
My Bat-Mitzvah was to be a lavish event, all of my Montreal family (including Alex’s parents and her brother), were going to be coming in,as well as a couple of my Jamaican relatives, and Toronto cousins! My Mom had hired a live band, a DJ, catering company, and improv troupe for the after party. Mitchi hadn’t seen Alex’s parents since they had moved away, and when I told him that her Mom was pregnant he just brushed it off “she’s just eight weeks along, but it’s pretty cool hey?” I asked him and he shrugged. “Let’s just get this little reunion over with,” he muttered. Indeed it was an awkward reunion, Anne; Mitchi’s Mom came over with him the night before my Bat-Mitzvah,and gave Essy and Michael a huge hug. Mitchi hung back and tried to hide, but they noticed him right away anyway. Eitan who was ten, and had looked up to Mitchi since he was two years old leapt into his arms, and Mitchi looked as if someone was punching him in the stomach. “You reek of alcohol,” I whispered to him as everyone began to get ready to go out for dinner. “Do NOT do this tomorrow okay?” I asked him. “Sure, I won’t I promise, you’re going to rock it and I want to be able to remember it,” he said and gave me a tight hug. I was already in a rotten mood anyway, because my favourite Aunt, Barbara and my Uncle Eddie had to stay in Toronto because Barbara was just diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Mitchi was not going to make it any worse for me.
The morning of my Bat-Mitzvah I woke up as excited as ever,today was my big day, it was all about me, and since I knew by that point that I never wanted to have a wedding this would be the only day of my life where there would be a gigantic party that was all about how awesome I am. Jessi, my Bat-Mitzvah tutor, and pseudo big sister was waiting for me in the Synagogue parking lot. “Where’s your mom?” I asked, Jessi’s mom was the Rabbi. “Hold your horses, your guests aren’t even supposed to be here for another hour,” she laughed. By the time 9:00 am rolled around, it was a full house in the tiny Kolot Mayim Synagogue. I had to stand outside so that no one would see me; I was wearing a smart little suit, and looked pretty good considering my underdeveloped (almost) thirteen year old body. I looked up to the sky and thought of Alexis. “I hope I make you proud,” I said out loud.
Over the past few years since Alex’s death I had struggled alot with my relationship with God. Before she died I had just ate what my Rabbi, and Hebrew school teachers fed me, but after I lost a best friend I wasn’t so sure. What God takes away a child? I had in the end reached the point that God isn’t in charge of what happens to us, sometimes bad things just happen, but God is the beauty in those terrible times, and that is hope. How is there hope in tragedy? That had to be God as far as I was concerned. This belief allowed me to be able to have a Bat-Mitzvah without very many objections. The only special request I made was that the Kaddish (Jewish prayer for the dead), be said which is almost unheard of at a Bat-Mitzvah, but I wanted Alex to be a part of the day. As I walked out towards the Torah I could tell right away Mitchi had smoked a joint by his eyes, but at least he was there and somewhat alert. My brother and Eitan were both sitting together looking as cute as ever in their suits and both had terrible colds, so they took turns sneezing loudly, to the amusement of everyone. The actual ceremony part went extremely well, I didn’t make a single mistake, so I guess all of those years of Hebrew School really did pay off. My parshah made everyone cry,because it was the story of the golden calf, and I talked about how I always wanted to be able to stand up for what I believed in without worry, and without fail. Then the ceremony was over. I had done it, in the eyes of my religion I was now an “adult”, which my parents constantly disputed whenever I brought it up afterwards. I then went home to open up all of my presents, and ended up getting thousands of dollars, and lots of jewellery. Then it was the party! The Synagogue had transformed into a Michael Jackson paradise (which is what I had asked for), and it looked amazing. Mitchi and I walked in together, and I knew from the moment I saw him that he was drunk. “Outside NOW!” I snapped at him and pulled him into the parking lot. “Uh oh I’m in trouble,” he giggled and I slapped him. “You’re an IDIOT!” I screamed at him. “I asked you for once not to be drunk for just one night…and you are,” I said almost in tears. “Only a little bit,” he protested and I slapped him again. “It’s my Bat-Mitzvah!” I snapped. “Mazel tov.” “Shut UP Mitchi!” I screamed. “I can’t stop,” he blurted quickly. “What?” I asked confused. “I tried not too and I couldn’t. I can’t stop,” he admitted. “Then you have a problem,” “can we talk about this later?” he asked and I agreed. “I promise that this night won’t be ruined for you, I’m okay really,” he reassured me, and we walked back in. “Is everything okay?”Elisa asked. “I’ll tell you later,” I whispered back but I’m sure she could see Mitchi conversing with Jayla from the corner of her eye. In the end nothing did ruin that night for me, but after that evening something shifted in my friendship with Mitchi, I knew I was different than him, and that we were going to go down two really different paths. In my heart I had already began to separate myself from him because I knew if I didn’t do it myself, something much worse would do it for me.