He takes me to the water tank

He takes me to the water tank. We walk through fields of wheat, tall and gold with the setting sun. My hair is long, and still a little red from that time I dyed it after our first date. He’s wearing jeans and a short black t-shirt. There’s a ladder leaning up the side of the tank; he says from the top there’s a view of all of Yavne. We climb up and our feet dangle over the rusty metal sides.  The view stretches out far and wide, at the edges stone houses lay in ruins. He points to them, and tells me that his grandmother exchanged her old stone house for a modern apartment in the housing projects, a house with fields. He says: “Imagine what that would have been worth now”.

He takes me by the hand and leads me back to the pickup truck. I like the contrast between his rough exterior and how gentle he is with me. 

He has one hand on the wheel, the other on my thigh; sunglasses shield his light green eyes. He reaches for the pack of cigarettes, places one between his lips, fiddles with the car lighter, twisting it around the end of his cigarette until the flame catches. When we turn onto his parents’ street, neighbors are out washing their cars, walking their dogs, lingering in the last rays of sun. They come up to the windows to say hello.

The door to his parent’s house is open, scents of cooking waft out. His mother rushes out to greet us, calling his name.

She sets things out for us on the kitchen table, even though the large white table in the dining room is already set for dinner and we’ll be eating there soon. She’s been cooking all day, and there’s a big, puffy, golden roll of pastry stuffed with beef, grilled chicken with garlic and rosemary, smoky roasted eggplant, matbucha shiny with oil. She sets down the heavy, shallow pot with fish drowning in a spicy Moroccan sauce, and he drags a piece of challah through it, leaving a trail in the deep red sauce, the bread dripping as he brings it to his mouth.

She laughs.

Later he’ll go out with his friends and I’ll wait for him in his childhood bedroom flipping through magazines. The sheets have this particular damp smell to them; his mother often forgets them in the washing machine. The room is his little sister’s now and there’s a turquoise wall, thin lace curtains at the window, a big pile of stuffed animals. I can hear the television on in the other rooms.

He feels strange to me, a mystery, an enigma; but then I feel strange to myself. Words don’t come easy. And yet there’s something about the physicality of him that makes me feel safe, makes me feel at home, makes me feel wanted.

They’ll ask: Did you see any signs along the way? I didn’t. Read more…

Where Home Is

I’m in the car with my best friend, and we’ve just had lunch at this quiet, quaint restaurant with huge windows so close up to the Old City walls it’ll make you gasp- hippie bowls of grains with roasted vegetables and a big, oil-slicked plate of glossy green lentils her baby couldn’t stop grabbing. We’re about to make a left onto my street, when suddenly police cars come wailing past, followed by big trucks carrying horses, vans with police dogs, and then: ambulances. We’re stuck in the middle lane, so there’s not much we can do. We alternate between closing the windows to keep the noise out, and opening them to try and understand what’s going on. The Old City is sprawled out to our right, majestic and strong.

I refresh the news ticker on my iPhone: nothing yet. When I get home, I sit on the couch and learn that two soldiers were shot, and a few minutes later, one has died. Female, twenty. Helicopters hover low in the sky.

My neighbors call: Are you ok? Did you hear the gunshots?

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My landlord threatens to increase my rent because the air-conditioning (that has not yet been installed) has added value to the property.

When he comes to visit for the first time in two and a half years, he calls to ask for directions. A few minutes later, he calls back, saying he drove straight into the Arab side. His voice is anxious, full of panic.

I want to say: This is where I live.

Around the corner, people are getting stabbed, killed. I leave my house with a can of pepper spray in my hand, at the ready.

In winter, my house is so cold that I sleep with socks, sweaters, a hot water bottle, the radiator next to my bed turned to the highest dial. I’m still cold.

He says: I can replace you easily. Read more…

Cooking for One

 

He asks: What do you like to cook?

 

unnamed-4I want to say: I cook for one: I roast salmon and roast chicken until its skin cackles and its juices drip onto the tiny potatoes below; I make myself a single serving of chocolate cake. All while sipping a glass of wine, low music in the background.

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I don’t. Read more…

what anger feels like

unnamed-41. I don’t remember much of my childhood before I was nine, which some say means I blacked it out. Some scenes, yes: swinging in the swings in the grassy backyard, sitting on the ledge of the bathtub as my brother’s girlfriend washed her very long blond hair in the bathroom sink, finding my favorite doll with needles poked into her forehead. The way the living room felt both large and cozy, the way we would heat up blueberry muffins on weekend mornings, then eat them split open, the whipped cream sputtering from the can, the blueberries popping between our teeth, fresh and tart. I don’t remember how I felt other than little, and then: very scared and alone and not understood.

2. “I have finally isolated the problem: that we were born at all. That we have bodies, and minds. Also, parents. Who made us go to school. Where a third of the children were absolute beasts, especially on the blacktop, when teachers weren’t looking. At about the time a grandparent or cat died, and we began to realize everything and everyone was going to die. Even Mom! Who was insane, who either had to be highly medicated, or who cleaned between the piano keys with Q-tips, or hated Dad, or adored Dad, who hated her.” –Anne Lamott

Read more…

They’ll come with you

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I want to wake up in a foreign country. The cityscape beyond the window exotic and unfamiliar, the sheets white and crisp, the noise of the city muffled and undecipherable. I want to wake up in a jungle, the tangle of trees coming close to the glass, nature hushed and thick. I want to wake up by the sea, falling asleep to the noise of the waves crashing against the cliff, the horizon endless and blue.

Anywhere but here.

She says: You can run, but your demons will come with you.

For the past few months, I’ve been facing them. Sitting in circles of other humans, closing our eyes, baring our scars, listening. Showing up for therapy, climbing down the stairs past the guard who never looks up from his iPad, down into the basement with the tattered ceiling, past long corridors, into a small conference room with a table so large, there’s barely room to move around, the walls lined with collapsing, half-opened old boxes, and pictures of oil rigs and digging sites in cheap dusty gold frames. I cling to my coffee as she pries open things I don’t like to share.

Sometimes, I find myself on a loop, rehashing the same things over and over until my brain feels like such a broken record, I wish I could just fling it against the wall. I quiet it by getting into bed, bringing the covers up above my head, a flannel-wrapped hot water bottle close to my skin; by going to a yoga class followed by a sauna and a steaming hot shower; by showing up at her house and surrendering my demons to her. Read more…

Just hold on we’re going home

unnamed-1.jpgThe wood cracks and hisses as my father approaches. Zack and I are sitting on the second to last step, huddled together, the wooden railing high and thick. From the corner of my eye I can see my parents’ bedroom door half open, my mother’s toes at the edge of the bed. We’re eight and nine years old and my father towers above us. He’s big and tall and he has a deep, resounding voice.

He says: “Go inside and give your mother a kiss.”

Zack gets up, and I inch closer to the wall.

I hesitate, then say: “I don’t want to.”

I saw the way she looks- a cast on her head, her long hair gone, the blankets up to her chin, her eyes closed. Is it true that this is my mother? Is she even alive?

He repeats: “Go and give her a kiss”. He watches me until I get up.

“Smile,” he adds, as I reach the door.

WHAT?

What kind of god took her away? Made her sick? Made me almost lose her?

I check under my bed, under the blankets; I wash my hands three times; pray in Hebrew, enunciating the same word again and again until I get it right; when I twist the doorknob I count: one, two, three, four.

How do I make sure it doesn’t happen again?

I go and give her a kiss, but a bubble comes down and settles itself around me and from that moment I’ll always feel alone. Read more…

Stabbing Season

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It’s stabbing season here. The few people still walking the streets twist their heads back every few seconds to make sure no one’s behind them. They stab from behind- there’s been instructional videos and everything, and somehow that’s scarier than if they came straight at you, faced you, and raised the knife to your heart. Read more…