Archive | September, 2013

Marching On

28 Sep

Last night he said to me that he hates this country. “Three years of my life and then nothing in return”?  I can hardly breathe when I think of the ‘nothing’ – a silenced aching emptiness where his friends used to be. But still he’d do it all again.

For his friends, his family – but not the country – anything but the country, and not the government – “The government never die. We die, but the government never die.” Fighting puppets on golden strings, given a small stake in the profits.

So when I go to ask you, how you got so strong, and so angry, I already know the answer. It’s the same reason that means you know exactly how to upset me, even though when I look in your eyes, they tell the truth unwaveringly.

But weren’t you trained to be like that? To stand bold in the face of an enemy, to stare them down. To kill. And to protect.

“I got the call last night. Can you handle a soldier?”

And I just wish you were just saying “Can you handle me?” But here, they’re one and the same.

See this post on my Times of Israel blog here: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/marching-on/

Time Travel at 32 Degrees

22 Sep

Time travel – it doesn’t exist apparently. But here in the swamp-like sticky melting pot of Tel Aviv, the heat blends old memories together with new, fusing holidays, day trips and long term stays into one long never-ending story with an ever-changing ending.

It sticks to the stray cats mincing across roofs, and melds itself to sweaty faces, winning its battle again and again with the omnipresent bottle of water. It weaves its way into Tel Aviv’s far from tuneful singing voice, sending the Shuk stall owners crazy as they wipe hot foreheads and play Eyal Golan again and again, from sunrise right up until the street cleaners arrive at closing time, with their loaded buckets of soapy water, soon to be sent spinning from Allenby down to the beach, drenching everyone in its path.

As the song starts again for the fortieth time, I know with utter certainty that should I ever hear this song again, in a different place, a different life, I’ll be instantly transported right back to right here, this very spot in the hot, hot heart of the city. It’s cheating time, this method of present day nostalgia – time travelling to the very moment you’re in. One of these days today will just be a sweet memory – and here in Tel Aviv, it might as well be today.

 

You can also see this post here, on my blog on Times of Israel: http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/time-travel-at-32-degrees/

Ch Ch Ch Changes….

7 Sep

The below was also published on my Times of Israel blog in August (http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/ch-ch-ch-changes/) – but it’s only fair to share it with Nish Nush too!:

The other day in Ulpan we were talking about the verb ‘to change oneself’ – Lehishtannot. “Have you changed yourself to fit in here?”, our teacher asked. “Do you want to change yourself  – to become more Israeli?”. “Take on the good parts of Israelis, not the bad” she instructed us – the medley of nations spread before her – Spain, Russia, American, England.  She smiled and strode purposefully across the class, to write another verb on the board. Onwards. But her words left a more permanent mark than those on the white board.

When I walk through Tel Aviv all the parts of me from before and after meet at that moment, joining me as I walk down the road. By their side walks everything that’s ever happened here, intermingling and intertwining with their playmates – plaiting a French braid, making a stylish meander around me. A comforting presence, it’s what creates this frenzy of olim moving here in droves – airy proof that we are not alone. Not as tangible as the openness and friendliness of the party people drinking in the bars, or the elderly lady who detailed the route to Jabotinsky, but still there nonetheless. But then it’s true of course that those voices, images, speeches can become stifling  – and so olim are leaving too – gone, but changed – unavoidably so – because one part of them will always be on Allenby, joining the other spirits of ‘back then’, a thirty degree hum of voices of the past, reaching on towards the future.

I don’t want to think about leaving – and I don’t want to think about staying either – but then perhaps that makes me more ‘Tel Aviv’, more changed than I realize. In London it’s all about  “What’s next? What’s the next career move, where’s the next apartment you’ll live in, and who’s the next boyfriend you’ll have?” Olim often complain about the pace of life here – it’s slower, and “everything takes so long…” But that’s because each moment is longer when you turn it over, admire it, polish it  – and maybe argue over it too. There’s so much space inside each moment that there’s no need to think about the next one, just yet. And just like that, in the space of 60 seconds, I’ve changed. And the best part – I did it without even noticing.