At 26, I was coming off a traumatic divorce that led me to distrust everything I knew to be true in this world. Desperate to figure out who I was and what I could believe in, I jumped when a friend invited me to go to a huge protest in Washington, DC, the 1979 No Nukes rally. I thought, now there’s something I could believe: Nuclear war = Bad. Start with the simple things, right? Tikkun olam.
This wasn’t the sort of thing I used to do. Although I was kind of a hippie, I was also shy and not one to make big statements. Plus, I don’t like crowds—or Port-o-Potties. But milling among 125,000 souls like-minded on nuclear energy, energized me. As the crowd chanted, “Hell no, we won’t glow,” and “Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to radiate,” I felt the first break in the heavy clouds that had filled my brain for too long. Life goes on, I saw. There were bigger things in the world than just me. By reaching out, I could find a way out.
Then, as if ordained, I saw a familiar face. Wild red hair, glasses. Mitch, my longtime hometown buddy. We had gone to nursery school through 12th grade together. “Martha!” he yelled, with that familiar wide grin. I hadn’t seen him in five years but it was like finding a life raft.
Mitch was living in Ithaca, NY and invited me to visit him there. Now, I know you think you know where this is going—Mitch and I realize we have been beshert all along—but different plans were afoot.
As I drove up to Mitch’s house, he and his roommates were fixing up the place. I looked up and saw one, up on a ladder, wearing a red bandana around his head, tools strapped to his waist. I thought, oh…my… (Later he confessed he saw my long legs coming out of the car and thought, oh…my…) His name was Marty.
Turns out, Marty was a nice Jewish mensch from the Catskills who was teaching local kids in exchange for yogurt. He was also kind, funny, humble and very much interested in tikkun olam. More importantly, I knew without putting it into words that I could trust him.
After that visit, we began a careful long-distance romance. Here was a partner who would not only let me be me, he supported me on my journey to discover who that was. We commuted on weekends (a seven-hour drive, round trip) for a year before I decided to move to Ithaca.
We married 38 years ago and have two children, two grandchildren and a lifetime of mutual respect. From a crowd of thousands, I had found that one face that could lead me home to Marty. Beshert.
Martha Levine and Marty Kaminsky are retired schoolteachers in Ithaca, NY. Marty is the founder of Golden Opportunity, an organization that provides free, one-on-one tutoring and mentorship to underprivileged students in the community. Martha is a Golden Opportunity tutor. Their friend Mitch also married a woman named Martha; the two couples are four-ever friends.