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…