The End

I’m waiting at the edge of a square room, to my right there’s a narrow hallway with a long bench against one wall and couples sitting on it tightly. I’m surprised there are children.

I hear couples whispering and talking loudly. I hear doors opening and shutting. Light streams in from high windows past dirty curtains.

I wait for his arrival.

People come up out of the stairwell and make a right into the hallway, but none of them are him. I haven’t seen him in four months, the longest we’ve ever been apart.

My arms fall to my sides, sweat gathers on my palms, where is he?

I’ve tried calling all of the people who might know where he is- his father, his mother, friends. The conversations are stilted and short, foggy with heartbreak.

I wait. I feel self-conscious, bloated, the color drained from my face, my hair falling past my shoulders.

Will he come?

Will he be sad? Apathetic? Furious? Will desire flood my body even after all of this? Even though he didn’t come for me this summer like he said he would? Even though when we spoke it felt like we didn’t speak the same language, like somehow we had never understood each other, could never understand each other? Will he lean down and kiss me? Grab my hand and run, run away with me?

Will he come? Read more…

Anything to make it stop

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The sky settles into a uniform royal blue, still illuminated from the just-set sun.

My mind races, thoughts squirming out to the edges of my body and all of a sudden I’m so anxious I could cry.

It’s been six months since the sirens came blasting through the city, and not a day goes by that I don’t suddenly freeze, or get into a panic that I have to talk myself out of. The honk of a car that goes on just a bit too long; a speeding motorcycle; the beginning of a song that starts with a low bass and then has a sudden wailing noise; the neighbors’ kids making human siren noises as a game (?!). And then, there’s the quiet. Oh, the quiet.

Six months. Every day.

I tell myself: It’s ok. There hasn’t been anything for a long time now, for months. You’re ok, and just a few more hours and nothing will happen and then it will be tomorrow. Let go, you’re ok.

But when I was in Beersheba, I finally clawed my way out of all of that fear, and slept through the night for the first time in months, and then all of a sudden, in the middle of the night, a siren shook me awake and I lost my grip and fell deep down into that dark bottomless pit. How do I know that won’t happen again?

Even if it does, the statistics of it landing right on you are pretty slim. Even if there is a siren, you’ll be fine.

I calm myself down, talk to myself in the most soothing of voices, but underneath everything is this constant bubbling anxiety. Give me five minutes alone and it rushes right back to the surface. Me, who used to relish time alone, demand it, grabbing it with both hands, relief flooding me as I closed the door. Now, the moment I’m alone, my thoughts spin into this infinite loop of fear.

I stand in my apartment, with its hundred-year-old marble floors and the gorgeous view of the old city, and the high ceilings, and for the first time, it feels like the place I’m living in is just right. My aunt came and said: it’s like a little jewel box. I think back at the other places I’ve lived in, with the mustard couches pulled in from the curb, with the owner’s junk piled high in a corner of the backyard; that apartment I lived in right above a whorehouse. This place feels like such a haven, so peaceful and serene, up in the trees.

But now, I take a shower and think: what if there was a siren now? And my heart accelerates, and I catch myself, and I say: “No, you’re fine, everything is ok. It’s not happening now”. I lean my head back into the running water, take a deep breath. A moment later: and now?

“Let go,” I say, “everything is fine, you’re fine, think about something else”. So I think about what I’ll make for dinner and I make a mental list of the things I have to do before bed (laundry, dishes, maybe I’ll do my nails); and, what if, now?

Shhh, take a towel, wrap it around your hair. Open the jar of cream, massage it into your face. Read more…

Excuses

Lately it feels like I just don’t know how to write anymore. I know I should just sit down at my desk and begin, but there’s always the dishes and my unruly closet that seems to just spit things out of its depths onto all of the nearest surfaces, and oh, now would be such a good time for that face-mask (it has tiny exfoliating pearls!). Ok, now some cream, and while we’re at it, let’s put some on my legs- those things haven’t seen daylight in a while.

Go downstairs, pour glass of water, sit at desk. Wait, coffee.

Position computer, open word document. Decide you have to check Facebook for just a second. Oh, a TED playlist on creativity! How perfect!! Maybe that will help!

Watch one, no, two videos. Stretch.

Decide you need to eat something.

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An avocado, split in half, yielding softly, its cavities piled high with tuna? A small salad of cherry tomatoes and cucumbers fresh from the market, topped with some of that sheep’s milk feta that’s so smooth and creamy they must be lying that it’s five percent? That stuff is good. Yeah, that’s what I’ll have.

Go into the kitchen, make salad.

Eye the jar of coconut oil sitting on the shelf above your counter. Decide that now would be the perfect time to slather some onto your cutting boards, your wooden spoons, and hey, now that you’re taking such close inventory- your arms are not in much better shape than your legs. Pile it on.

Sit on couch with salad (it’s just sad to eat at your desk); this way, you can think! Brainstorm! Then, you’ll write. Promise.

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Pick up your iPad (first mistake) check feedly (second mistake) get lost in that glorious black hole that is the world of food blogs (third mistake). Read more…

Endless Blues

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We step off the ferry into the cool night air, the lights of the port glimmering on the ocean, the water reaching the shore in short caresses, and I pause for a second to let the dizziness that crept around my edges settle.

A driver is waiting for us, and we make our way up the mountain and around curvy streets, past tiny villages nestled into the hills and then back down again through a little village on the ocean, and finally, we pull up to our pension. I’m travelling with a friend, and her friends await us at their balcony right above the entrance and they rush down and pull us into their arms. We put down our bags, and take quick showers, washing out the sand from a swim in the port as we waited for the ferry to take us from Athens to this small, distant island. The water is hot and the sand gathers around my feet and I put on a summer dress and we go down to the tavern to meet the others for dinner. We gather around a table outdoors and order carafes of wine and platters of food, and we talk about everyone’s journeys. Read more…

It comes loose

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I spent the week in and out of the hospital. My grandma, she of the thin, crepe-like skin, of the little sparrows, was lying in a hospital bed, the blankets up to her chin.

We arrived at her bedside, spoke into her ear.

“Charlotte is here,” my mother said loudly.

She opened her eyes, closed them, her lids heavy.

My father stepped up, announced: “C’est Devy”.

She opened her eyes, startled.

During the day, she tossed and turned, the antibiotics coursing through her veins. Her kidneys were giving way, her lungs closely following suit.

She called: Papa! Papa! Papa!

Her father loomed large in her consciousness, three quarters of a century after his own death. I wonder if it was the ocean view in her last apartment that brought it all back, images of her Marine father drifting back to shore, lacing themselves into the present, confusing her. Read more…

Everything that is

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She calls me at midnight in the middle of a full-blown panic attack. An hour later, when she’s calmed down and we’re chatting, she asks me what I’m thinking about lately…

… I’ve been thinking about my career, and whether it’s a good idea to be working where I am, at a job that leaves me so exhausted and drained, that I often come home and go straight to bed. Where I’m learning to trade my soft, high-pitched, childish voice with one that’s firm and assertive. Where I’m learning to voice my opinions even when I’m not sure of them. I think about the trade-offs, and the potential, and the consequences, and I flit around between them, holding different sides of the argument on different days of the week, on different hours of the day.

And how most mornings I don’t want to get out of bed, and I lure myself up and out with the promise of a tall, warm cappuccino, strong and dark and foamy, which I pick up at the half-way point from my house to the office- the promise of which is enough to get me to put one foot in front of the other in front of the other, and then, holding it in my hand, enough to comfort me the rest of the way.

I think about city life, and toy with the idea of living out in the middle of nowhere, and writing. Of living somewhere exotic and writing. Of getting the hell outta dodge. I counter that here is exotic enough. I look at flights, at real estate listings in New Orleans. The map of that great expanse that is America. I think about Brooklyn. I sprawl out on the couch and read Motel Chronicles. Read more…

Inhale. Exhale.

I’m writing to you from the womb of a rainbow-striped hammock strung between ancient olive trees, their trunks knobby and gnarled like an old man’s hands, their branches like upturned palms, overflowing with shards of green.

A breeze ruffles the slender green-silver leaves, with their clusters of olives in twos and threes; here and there olives scatter to the floor.

We’re about as close to the Lebanese border as it gets, on the edges of a little ecological village that’s cut off from the state’s pipelines, running on solar-powered energy, its houses set out sparsely against the rocky hillside.

I had to suspend my paranoia fears about war to come here; when I voiced them aloud to my friend, she stated, half-jokingly, that we’re so close, missiles would pass right above our heads.

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I’m resting in this hammock and thinking about nature and borders and land and isolation and community, in the calm, quiet embrace of this olive grove, traditionally a symbol of peace.

In the background, beyond the soft swaying of the branches, I can hear the noise of the festival. At this distance, the music is soothing and low, the sound of hundreds of people humming along reaching me as a soft murmur. The wind rocks my hammock gently. Read more…

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