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…

Losing Balance

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He asks: “Why don’t you write anymore?”

“I don’t have time,” I say. “My day job keeps me busy busy busy”.

Later: “But you follow fifty food blogs? What about all of that time you spend reading?”

*

Setting aside time to write is good for other things: the ironing you didn’t do in six months, rubbing your wooden cutting boards with coconut oil, taking a walk.

*

I’ve been scared of the sirens again. Two, three missiles on the south and that’s it. I can’t breathe well, I’m scared all of the time, my brain is back on that tortuous “what if” loop.

He says: “The chance of being hit by a missile is like winning the lottery”.

(Why aren’t I playing?)

We’re sitting in his apartment and he’s holding a tiny baby cat that’s curled against his chest. The balcony doors are open wide onto a monastery with an iron flag that has 1817 carved on it. His floors have the same marble that runs into my kitchen and seeps out into the hallway, the same high ceilings, the same majestic arched windows; two Hebrew letters that spell miracle hang above the dining room table.

I feel it beneath my shoulder blades, stretching down to my legs; the weight heavy on my shoulders, balling up my chest. If I’m not in control then…

“Then what?” He asks. Read more…

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…