this morning tsafi woke me at 4:30am to talk about moving to america. He poured out his self-doubt over making it as a CPA out there. in my sleepy daze, i tried to help; offering advice to change his perspective and not to doubt. He is a focused and determined person. He’s motivated… he can totally make it as a CPA there. he just needs to see himself successful over there; to have that vision. We talked in the dark touching toes about all he’s worried about and when the sky began to lighten we climbed onto the roof to see sunrise. We sat on bricks and watched the sun with our backs to the sea a block away.
“we shouldn’t stare at it…” i warned him as i felt my eyes surge.
“at this point, it’s harmless,” he said.
We had been talking about the concept of decision-making based on instincts. We had tried to have this kind of conversation before. But something about the soft sun and quiet made me gently chisel his practicalness with trying to explain again this concept. He said he based his worry on statistics, the job market, etc. i told him that my instincts say that he’ll be very successful doing CPA work; that if he takes a risk doing something else he’ll be hit with much unneccessary frustration. My instincts have always been very strong and on several occasions i have proved it to him. This morning i made headway though…
The sun was getting brighter and more birds took to the sky. I asked him how he knew i was the one to marry, to have his children. His practical mind must have seen my sex drugs rock-n-roll lifestyle at the time. “based on what i was doing when we first met, how did you know?” i asked him…and there was silence…”INSTINCTS!” I told him enthusiastically…”something deeper led you my way.”
And then he very quietly said something that touched the core of me, touched a confusion that i had been carrying around lately. “i saw how you were with your cats,” he said, “i saw what kind of mother you will be.” And in that moment, i understood something previously unresolved within me. i had been wondering what the lesson was in pouring my love so much into my sweet meows, gabe and loki, only to have them die so soon and then i saw it so clearly… they were my ‘practice children’. Tsafi understood that. Once tsafi and i were on our way, they left us…
Last night we had gone to itai’s apartment, tsafi’s childhood friend. His father is a military man turned judge, having rubbed elbows with israel’s prime ministers and army officials. There are photos in their penthouse of itai’s dad and the prime minister. I had only been there once before last year when no one was home but us and the 14 year old terrier dog who hobbled around. last night his parents were home. They were having a dinner party. Ironically it was old school teachers and an old principal from tsafi and itai’s boyhood days. We sat and talked with them for a while. I wanted to hear stories about what kind of kid tsafi was. The man standing next to me offered conversation.
“what do you want to know? I’ve known tsafi since he was this high…” this was how i met itai’s father for the first time. We had a great conversation and then, like inappropriate kids, we were banished to itai’s room as the adults mingled and ate. Afterwards we had the leftovers of gourmet ravioli and an amazing chocolate cake.
tsafi will study from now until december. We will stay here at safta’s until we leave for america. I have decorated our room more; hanging evil-eye-warding-off things from turkey, enlarged photos of us and american flag stickers. We have 3 dreamcatchers above our bed. Originally we had 2, one in the middle of the wall and one hanging from the bed but tsafi woke up one night after a bad dream and announced that we had to make it even. He hasn’t had a bad dream since… he’s comin around to spirit slowly but surely…
i like how he is though. I don’t want him to change as much as i would like him to respect the unseen. He told me that his first ‘deep’ thoughts he remembered having was lying on the roof of his parent’s apartment building when he was very small and looking up at the stars, contemplating in a child’s mind the concept of infinity…but to him it was all numbers… how many stars were there beyond those stars? How many universes? Ratios, probability…
he says he believes more in UFOs than in god.
“why don’t you believe in god?” i asked him.
“2/3 of the world’s population is in poverty. People are dying everyday for senseless reasons like having no food, wars.” He listed all his CNN-researched reasons and then went on to say that when something is confusing to the human mind, we make these things up like god, angels, faeries, “higher” things, to satiate our fear.
I thought that was a wonderfully thought-provoking thing for him to say. It actually made me delve into my perception of my fears and what i do with them… is belief a mirage? Faith? What is faith? Are we all just scared little mice running our mazes, giving up the responsibilities of our destinies because we feel small and afraid? Is the way tsafi thinks…is it empowering or just too judicious…
sitting at safta’s plastic covered kitchen table, we made chocolate coconut alcohol balls. In a large dented orange bowl she poured whiskey, wine, coffee mix, chocolate, coconut flakes and fruits. I smashed it all up and separated cupcake papers. She told me family stories for hours in hebrew. “you work. I tell you stories.”
When tsafi was 4 days old he had surgery on his stomach. His now trademark scar is so old and deep that it bleeds everytime he surfs. The friction of the board before he stands chafes it. After that surgery he couldn’t eat. His mother had no milk. He had been premature. Safta described holding him a week old and crying over him. I felt as if i was there in the room with them as she told the story. She was putting her finger to his lips and he was desperately sucking for food but there wasn’t any and his stomach was so sensitive that he had to have breast milk only. So safta’s sister, bracha, who lived in a religious community in the north of israel, would drive everyday to get breast milk from a religious woman and drive to netanya. Safta described one time that shoshe, his mother, was preparing the bottle on the stove and she forgot to do something having to do with a towel and the precious milk exploded and they all cried.
Weeks passed and tsafi developed a big belly like people sometimes have in africa and they took him to doctors. At one month old, he was diagnosed with TYPHOID FEVER! What a beginning for him….
Shoshe had no easy pregnancies. When tsafi was 6 years old, she fell pregnant with his brother, ron. She had to spend all nine months in bed. It was a difficult time and safta took care of her and the family. She described tsafi at this time as ‘king of the house’, which no doubt continues on til today…lol…
The labor with ron lasted very long. They had to cut vertically but still no baby. They thought she would die in childbirth. Safta described itzhak, (tsafi’s dad/her son) crying in the waiting room. They decided to do a c-section cutting her now horizontally. Baby was fine but mother a mess. Safta imitated how she walked for weeks afterwards. Hunched over and in pain. Ron was only 3 months old when she got pregnant with dana.
Safta told me of the day she found out. Shoshe was driving the car and safta was in the back with 3-month-old ron. Safta saw something was wrong and shoshe told her sadly that she was pregnant again. “i was so stupid” safta said. “i was excited and said Mazal Tov!” but the last pregnancy almost killed her. A team of doctors were to decide the fate of the baby. Thankfully, all went alright. Dana and ron are 15 months apart.
Hearing these intimate stories, i realize now that safta has seen tsafi every single day of his life, just like the rest of his family…. so involved, so caring. I understand now better just how hard it will be for them when we leave here. Tsafi seems ready though and that’s my main concern. I told him last night all the stories that safta told me as i rolled chocolate balls in a plate of coconut and put them in cupcake paper. I asked him if he realizes that after we leave israel we probably won’t see safta again. I said it not only to him but also to myself. “she’ll be around” he assured me, “she’s built like a horse, despite her complaints,” he said. Safta said she will come to california when our child is born. I had gave her a massage before her afternoon nap to thank her for her stories and she was in better spirits for days…
diana leaves for college for the first time today. I can feel her excitement and it being overwhelming. Today tsafi and i went to the sea. We sat in lagoons protected by rocks and watched crabs. We tried to make them run by throwing water on them but it didn’t work. I collected delicate purple shells in my lipstick case and watched a couple have sex in the water not far from where we were. We spent the day yesterday seeing wedding halls. Now if only to set the date!
we are on our way to the United States Embassy in tel aviv. My original 1973 birth certificate is keeping space with tsafi’s, my social security card and all our israeli identifications are all safe together in my pocket. I am eating a dented pear and boppin in the car to orbital. We met his uncle dan from los angeles yesterday and he gave us advice about making it in america. He has studied chinese medicine, recently married and has a successful business in our future town. He inspired us so much that we jumped on our ‘to-do’ lists…first stop…THE EMBASSY!
last night was a birthday party for gil. Tsafi decided to take a shortcut. But there was a music concert going on; high security, guns, crowds, chaotic entrances and exits where we had to fight to get through. A feeling of panic crept up as we maneuvered through the crowd. I love music. I love concerts. I love happy dancing people. But i could not jump in their game. I raced around it. How do they dance / congregate / LIVE HERE!? In netanya, no less!
We arrived at the cafe on the beach with bright unattractive lights and Spanish music. We ate ice cream with stale waffles and i endured torrents of incomprehension as i sat smiling fakely wishing to leave. I didn’t feel safe or understood. I didn’t feel part of anything.
all this wedding planning turns me into a big mush ball. looking forward to a time when we have our own house and we cook together and have space to fill up with these feelings.
it’s 1:30pm on a saturday afternoon and we are drunk on stolen carmel white wine (from a wedding he worked at this week) and we’re cooking teryaki chicken with rice noodles. he’s adorable with his serious face over his wok and telling me the philosophy of how mushrooms and onions are allowed to ‘go together’ but carrots or cabbage with those are not…they go later…. he moves in swift movements around the kitchen. i made the rice noodles that sit in a colander on the table and now i press garlic and wax sentimental about my new cautiously optimistic contact with my mother. we now have a project, this wedding, to focus on instead of our personal dramas which we both know are entirely unnecessary. the goal of life is to be happy, to make others happy. a wedding is all about future and so we come together in a better spirit.
we dance to mickey hart in the kitchen, bouncing at our different stations. me at the table and him at the stove and i think to myself (and very soon after, out loud) how lucky we are to someday put all this love into a child.
i wear a sundress, his boxers, knitted cat socks COMPLETE WITH pink tail up the ankle thank you, and a smile. the food is almost ready. i hear the stirring of metal against metal. i had to leave the room when he cooked the chicken but now it’s back to it!
the fascade of the building i live in is being redone. each tennant shelled out 6000 shekels for it. the building is very old. safta’s been living here 60 years and for all i knw it’s never been altered. i heard that the elevator in the building is the first one built in netanya and all the kids would come to play on it.
earlier this week the workers came to put up the scaffolding. all day long i heard the rusty churning of a single pulley as chalky platforms were laid and bolts were fastened forming the most primitive scaffolding i’ve ever seen.
i was doing laundry and hung soaking wet things on the line to dry just for an hour but even though the workers were far away from the dripping, they screamed at me over and over ‘geveret!! geveret!!’ ( miss! miss!) i just ignored them and then later brought it in. each morning this week we awake to loud chiselling and rhythmic banging. it peirces through my ear plugs and locked windows. as my sleep is shattered hourly anyway i resolve to get up and head here to the bora bora cafe. no one is ever here this early. i read books, take cover from the sun and enjoy the music blasting from 10 -foot-high speakers. this morning i took over the hammock, spreading out my pink and black tapestry and falling asleep to the ‘sacred spirits, yeha noha’ cd. i awoke to sun creeping towards my toes illuminating the coarse natural fabric of the hammock and a glass of water stuck in the sand next to me. i looked around to see who might have left that for me but i didn’t see anyone. i turned on my side staring out at the strong current of mid-morning and a happy guy with a funky hat appeared asking me if he can interrupt me. he pulled up a chair and we talked about places we’ve travelled, the history of israel, mount sinai. he told me a story of being screwed by israelis in NYC and making a bomb in order to threaten them into paying him his salary. he’s 26. his cousin owns the cafe. he says bora bora is a small island in tahiti. tsafi and i thought it was named after the caves in afghanistan. he’s a tour guide, a native of netanya, a surfer, hates soccer, and listens to great music. i showed him tsafi’s photo and asked if he knew him. he said that he looks familiar. before he sat down to talk with me, three older guys maintaining the place asked if i wanted anything to drink . “water? coffee?….me?” and we had a laugh, albeit a horrified one. i feel good here. relaxed, cooled off (physically and mentally). unemployment ain’t so bad….
tsafi and i had a ‘marble’ fight this morning. i say ‘marble’ because we hit and then we go off into different corners to think about it. and….lol…it all started with cereal.
so today i am enjoying myself at the beach, my favorite place to be, no matter where. clear blue waves thunder in and i’ve taken over a shadow of an umbrella that belongs to bora bora, the cafe on the sand. the wind makes me cold. i brought a natalie goldberg book with me.
how does anyone survive here?? HOW??
mentally, spiritually…. how??? i feel like i’m constantly hooked up to a danger button. i fight against its currents. it’s just electricity. if i hold onto something temporary (like plastic) it won’t damage me.
but my life is more than this..more than this panic, this land, this religion (which i still perceive is a grandmother saying ‘no!’) my life is more than tsafi even, although he’s a big part of it. there’s a place i keep ‘me’ and it’s undiscovered for the asking.
“to love is to wake up” – n.goldberg
i’m lonely, threatened, bored here. nothing makes sense.
“a writer’s life is about examination. what is love anyway, and sorrow and light?” – n.g.
i just hit my head on a hanging light fixture and broke the bulb. it’s been too hot to even wear clothes… so i sit here making a cassette mix of songs for anthony with a thin sheet over me. yesterday i spent 8 hours going through my pigeon-infested boxes on tsafi’s parents’ roof. sweat poured off me. tsafi made me iced coffee. there was nothing else he could do. i was hell bent and determined on saving everything i own from the evil pigeons!
earlier we made jokes about us being officially homeless as we collected cardboard boxes from a dark supermarket basement. there was a box that said ‘fairy original’ that he thought was useless but i insisted that i needed it so we took it along with us.
there were bird feathers, tiny black dots that once were bird mites, dozens of huge sunnyside up roaches, and just a sense of “i’ll do this myself” as i opened boxes with my bare hands, tore into my belongings, smelling my incensed boxes mixed with the smells of my old nyc apartment, curtains rolled up gently kissed by my long-dead-now cats’ hairs. i put the most afflicted in new boxes and sealed them all back up. took out some more books about creativity and writing to tide me over til we leave israel in january.
i can totally do this…last til then… just need a job…or to write a book… something to throw myself into. i think i could even exist here at safta’s if we needed to til then. we could save our money, plan the wedding. things to think about….
so as midnight came, i arranged the boxes under the awning in such a way that there were no empty spaces for nests. i had on my ‘bird mind’ and thought with care how a bird would see how i placed each box. after that i wrapped it all in plastic, sealed it up and patted it like a good dog “see you back home.”
my back hurts now. i stabbed myself with the cutting knife and my knee still hurts from white water rafting…..