(Continued from part 4).
I don't remember much about the rest of Shaharit. Once we floated into the right key, I almost forgot anyone was there aside from all of us onstage, an odd sensation of intimacy and distance at the same time. (The stage was large and raised, the congregation ten feet below; I could barely feel their presence, especially when we turned around to face the Ark for the Amidah.) All I thought was: I have to pray really hard. I didn't know what I meant by that, but was sure I had to do it. Unlike last year, when I was overwhelmed by the emotions around me, this morning there was little extra room in my brain to contemplate my surroundings. I was in a race, running across the street to beat a light that was about to change, or trying to grab a bar that kept moving, like a trapeze. The prayers balanced precariously on an edge.
Shaharit ended, and I joined friends in the fourth row. Musaf began, and then the d'var Torah. It was fascinating, but I had used myself up; I promptly dozed off. I was startled awake every few seconds by parts of sentences, as if someone was pelting me with puzzle pieces. The rest of the time I cried, grateful to be able to hide under my tallit.