Monthly Archives: January 2003

back at home

I’ve unrolled the zebra-striped rug, piled the boxes of my journals bed-side to form a nightstand for the cd alarm clock that I’ve carried with me across the world but never used. It now fits snug into a proper American outlet and it actually works. We are sleeping in what used to be my sister adrienne’s room… a room I never slept in except maybe when this room used to be the playroom and I’d pass out on the pink shag carpet after too much play. The room is decorated in roses at their raging peak, wedding cards, seashells from the mediteranean and sparklers that I forgot to use at the last wedding party. Doorknobs are decorated with my garter, dreamcatchers and a white satin bag that will hold bridal memories. On the dresser is one of my favorite wedding gifts, a huge stained glass butterfly that is a lamp. It was given to me by my first boyfriend, tj, who came to the party with his wife elise.
We arrived here a week ago from Israel and are having so many important experiences. Tsafi witnessed his first snowfall. We were in a store and overheard someone asking if they think the snow will stick. I grabbed his hand excited and ran to the door. We exited thru double doors and into tsafi’s wonder. He stood quietly with fingers spread and watched snowflakes land on his palms. I tried to show him how each snowflake is like a fingerprint but they melted faster than my intentions.

FLIGHT FROM LONDON TO NEW JERSEY

british time… haven taken off from heathrow a little while ago, I can now set my sites on actually landing in America. When the captain mentions our destination I smile unfortunately the worst Israelis from our last flight earlier this morning wound up ahead of us. Screaming children all 9 months apart, religious parents no older than 23 years old that think nothing of picking their noses and flicking it on the ground. I took a seat further back from them scowling redrum at them. Them made me check in my photo negative books and I’d been sour about it. That and waiting in heathrow airport for NINE HOURS with nothing to do. I found myself pouting like a child, tears forming saying to a plane window that I just want to fucking get home please jesus moses and jehosefat. Right on cue, the captain pops on the overhead speaker announcing an unusually long flight across the atlantic due to strong head winds. I find myself cursing like a brit ‘oh bloody hell!’ and I threw a pillow on the floor. I sheepishly pick it up again as I decide to shear off a few hours of this impossible middle place between there and home. My weapon? …sleep…

FLIGHT FROM ISRAEL TO LONDON

we are on a british airways flight from Israel to London and then eventually onto Newark nj and onto my father’s home, never ever to return back to Israel save for visits. I did it! Israel was all just a bad dream! Onto the real adventure…. On with it I say I say!
Tsafi’s absorbed in watching ‘3rd rock from the sun’ on the tv screen over the aisle. I had some failed attempts at sleep. Tsafi called me a cockroach for all the small different ways that I can lie on a 1 square foot area without touching the guy next to me. Also I think my face was all smushed up from the blanket being pressed into it.
This past week has been nothing but perfect! On January 3rd, Diana came. It was a rainy night and I began to feel a cold coming on. Itzik had bronchitis but he was the only one available to take me to the airport. We listened to greek music in the car. Diana’s flight was delayed an hour and the anticipation was just killing me. Itzik parked the car by the menorah and I flew into the arrivals terminal and sat anxiously gripping my camera. She finally arrived, the last one to collect her baggage. The flash of my camera told her where I was and we ran around the metal bars to hug each other. Her face was like home flying out at me and I instantly felt attached not floating out in that foreign world, but safe because she was with me. She threw her trolley into a wall and someone took photos of us. I introduced her to itzik and we went back to netanya. I walked her from room to room in safta’s place, explaining the primitive features of where I’ve been living. I stood in the shower with my shoes and explained how the hose that sticks out of the wall works and the 1970’s décor room where she’d be sleeping. She showered and we all went to tsafi’s parents’ apartment for dinner. She met dana for the first time. She was on the roof bringing down chairs for dinner. They hit it off immediately. She was wearing pink and was self-conscience of the acne on her forehead. I put things on her plate that she never tasted before. Barekas (this pastry filled with cheese or mashed potato), finely-chopped salad, different cheeses. She liked everything she tasted.
By the next day a flu had descended on me and even though I felt horrible, I wanted to show her around. In the next few days I took her by foot all around netanya, on the promenade, everywhere. We walked the stalls of the market, the souq, we ran screaming passed the fish dying dramatically on countertops amid shouts of fruit and veggie vendors announcing how much vitamins their produce had. The fish had just been taken out of water. At first glance, they appeared dead already but then their gills would flap and we’d take off screaming. A vendor smiled after us saying ‘english, yes?’ as if only the Americans or british would have such a fright from those lazarus fishes.
As the date of the wedding got closer I decided to go to the doctor. Diana wasn’t fortunate enough to see a typical health center experience. There was hardly any fighting, minimal line-cutting. But she agreed that it was indeed a most primitive experience. Dr. Greenberg, who was to be a guest at the wedding, took one look at me and prescribed the fastest acting flu medicine known to man. 100 shekels, 2 pills a day. I picked up medicine also for itzik who still had bronchitis. We were all a bit of a mess. Tsafi was temporarily insane in anticipation of his tests.
Cousin debra, who was visiting in Jerusalem from new york, got engaged with her boyfriend of 5 years, noam. There was lots of buzz and energy in the air. Tsafi’s parents were preparing to let go of 2 out of their 3 children. Tsafi to America and dana to the army. It was a strong feeling in all ways. I lied low to let my body heal. And then mom arrived….
Diana and I stood at ben gurion airport’s arrival space. Tsafi was with the car at the menorah. Mom came out and we hugged. It was a bit surreal having now two members of my ‘other world’ in my Israel world. We drove back to netanya where we walked to Taipei, our favorite restaurant. We walked along the promenade. We ate much and polished off a bottle of chianti. Walking back to mom’s hotel, Diana and I, now drunk, played on the playground. I booked mom at the hotel directly behind safta’s, the king Solomon hotel. I haggled the price down from $70 per night to $45. we dropped her off there and went back to safta’s. where I would wake up unable to sleep with a case of ‘where’s my bag!?’ hypothesizing where I might have left it…conclusion being that I left it at mom’s hotel. As Diana struggled with jet lag and mom with a bellyache we planned to pick up dad…
Tsafi, me and Diana headed back to the airport for the 3rd time that week. Tsafi again waited at the menorah with the car and di and I dashed in to find dad. We stood by the fountains anxious. We were afraid we were late as we hit traffic on the way… and we were right. We stood in anticipation as people still came out of the gate… and then we heard a low familiar voice ‘is he here yet?’ and Diana and I screamed real loud. It was quite a memory…dad was giggling uncontrollably. Diana was hitting him on the head for scaring us and I was cackling behind the video camera capturing it all. People all around laughed at us. We laughed for almost 5 minutes straight while we rushed out the car and drove back, yet again, to netanya. Dad showered and we all ate dinner together at the gan-els’ apartment. Shoshe and itzik were really hospitable to my family. everyone consistently got along…dad & mom, mom & itzik, us and everyone… it was just a really nice yet cautious feeling. I was happily overwhelmed that mom dad and di had flown so far to be with me. I wanted their time to be special. I planned some trips for us all to take after the wedding…

OUR WEDDING JANUARY 9TH IN ISRAEL

On 9 january, I woke up in my white pajamas with the frogs on them and ‘princess’ written strategically between the frogs. Since the top was my only button-down shirt I decided to wear it to the hair dresser. The pixie-to-bride transformation began at 10am. Yaakov, my hair guru, worked his curling madness on every strand of hair and fastened it up with bobby pins and pearls. Linda, my make-up mistress, turned me into a porcelain doll. I hardly recognized myself. Diana was my stress calmer… I would loook at her and make an accelerating sound and I’d be pacified for a few moments til I accelerated again. There were hyper monkies with long tails swinging from surreal branches in my mind. I looked like and felt like a bride… one last thing…my dress…. Lynda pulled the drapes and I dressed myself almost all the way. Diana laughed at me as I put my underwear on all screwy. She helped me put my shoes on and fastened the back of my dress. Seffi, the photographer, showed up and snapped away. I was worried how everything would come together, how so much last-minute planning would work out. Inside, I knew it would all be fine, but I was skiddish until evening.
Tsafi came and we met and the 3 of us, seffi tsafi and me, headed out for a photo shoot. First stop, the grassy cliff where parachuters jump off. We used the decorated car as a prop and posed around it as it was parked on the grass. It was his parents’ white car and dana had decorated it with purple ribbons and balloons that said ‘I love you’. They soon popped and the ribbons came undone but we got some good photos before that happened. We drove next to this pond with picnic tables that tsafi and I sometimes used to visit. We took some portraits next to trees and the reality of the day crept into both of us. We then traveled to caesarea where we posed next to roman ruins and walked along the shore on seashells .
Returning back to safta’s, I wrapped myself in a robe and ate with tsafi, seffi and tomer, our video guy. Dad came to me with a selection of shirts and ties and asked me to pick out what he should wear for my wedding. Just as he used to do when I was in high school and he’d turn on the hallway light asking me what matched more accurately. But this time he had a preference and so I encouraged it. We all dressed and went to meet mom and Diana at the beauty place. They both looked beautiful. We drove together to the wedding garden and my acceleration sounds became more frequent. Diana was quick to calm me. When we pulled up outside minchat ein vered, di and I utterly lost it and started singing a song from grease as dad and tsafi arranged the ribbons so that we could open the doors.
I entered the orange grove and let my skirt down, fixed my bra and stepped through the cave into the most perfect bridal pixie wonderland ever!!! Candles from all directions, colored lights highlighting the stones. The chuppah though… the aisle was ASTROTURF!! Oh no! uh uh…. Green horrible plastic yuk! I asked the owner to change it and after some struggle, he did. He covered it with white fabric and flower petals like I imagined… I walked through another cave to the main hall. It was breathtaking! Perfect and then some! Mom and di’s faces were mirroring my feelings. We set up in the private room. Diana was in charge of ‘THE bag’ and she organized it according to level of emergency…straws for drinking, cameras, lipstick, q-tips, any thing we’d need, none of which we used, except of course the straws…
Tsafi and I drank from our arrival until the fat lady sang. Guests started to arrive. I believed anything anyone told me forgetting that it’s customary to bestow compliments at weddings. I felt beautiful. I felt charged, in love, happy, grateful, boundless, ecstatic! Tsafi and I mingled at cocktail hour. Everyone was impressed with the place. It was neat to see people’s reactions when they stepped through the cave entrance. We had full security. Armed guards, patrolling guards throughout the grove. Family members tried to tell me where to stand and how to greet guests but I snuck away from their controlling intentions and greeted everyone as instincts dictated.
A check on the time sent my heart racing… 8:30pm… the rabbi arrived. It was meira, tsafi’s female reform rabbi, a pushy yet feminist rabbi. We grabbed anat and gil from the other room and asked them to be our witnesses. We sat at the table in the big hall…me, tsafi, meira, gil and anat, mom, Diana, dad, itzik, and shoshe. We first selected a ketubah..purple, of course. It was more equally worded than the religious ceremony of 9 december. Meira had translated it into English so that I would agree into this with an open heart. Dad tucked the translation into his pocket and meira explained traditions to us. We all signed the ketubah and then the table was taken away.
I organized who walked first down the aisle, second, third and so on but nothing prepared me for the first notes of enya’s song ‘flora’s secret’ that we had chosen as our song for walking to the chuppah. I gasped..one long inhale and held it. Dad laughed and grabbed my elbow. Safta lea and safta kati headed out first down the aisle. I went numb, ecstatic, nervous. I kissed tsafi itzik and shoshe and psyched myself up. ‘let’s do this’ Diana, ron and Diana headed out next. Then tsafi, itzik and shoshe went… and then… with right foot first for good luck I walked arm in arm with my parents to the chuppah…
A social rite, the heart’s acknowledgement, a bit of a show, trying not to trip… my parents brought me to the foot of the stone steps. Tsafi walked towards me and covered my face with the veil. I joined him and our parents stood beside us. We held hands and the ceremony began. Meira spoke in Hebrew and English. Our fathers read the seven blessings in Hebrew. Tsafi and I both exchanged rings. He stamped the glass and ‘U2’s Pride in the name of love’ blasted out. Everyone rushed the chuppah and we were showered with hugs and kisses from everyone.
Guests made their way into the big hall where they began eating. Tsafi and I climbed onto the back of a bicycle and jinji, the owner of the place, the farmer of the orange grove, put on a wide straw hat, blew a long horn and pedaled us around the dancefloor. He came around and took my hand and we mingled with guests and hit the dancefloor. We didn’t stop dancing all night. We drank anything offered and drank each other like never before. Bubbles and a spotlight like the sun and we danced to our song ‘all I want is you’.
The dj was incredible. The food, we were told, was great. We couldn’t eat anything, too excited. The place was perfect, the photo/video guys seemed to be non-stop filming. Everything was just PERFECT!
Tsafi and I flirted and danced with reckless abandon. All our friends were dressed so kewl and joy abounded. At 1am, the party ended. My family was around me, our friends, we took photos and packed to leave. Mom had booked us a honeymoon suite at the hotel. There was champagne and fruit in the room. We couldn’t touch any of it. We enjoyed each other and collapsed like pretzels to face a new eternity upon awaking.
With a hangover, sore feet and hungry, we headed down to breakfast at 7am and restless, we headed to his parents house. We sat at the kitchen table and read the cards and collected the checks. Some people just wrote their names on used envelopes and put a few 100 shekel bills in them. Others wrote us beautiful cards. Everyone was very generous. We’d open envelopes and just stare at each other. Gil and anat, tsafi’s aunt, his grandmother… we went right to the bank to deposit them. We arrived back home in the late morning with a mess of a dress to contend with, glittered hair, glued-in pearls, make-up stuck to the bends of my face and just a post party high. And so began a series of family gatherings where both our families mingled and ate too much. Tsafi and I would swear we’d never eat again. Safta cooked with happy purpose and Diana and I set the table. Everyone was so loose and casual and happy that I felt such love and happiness and gratefulness. It’s as if they came to take me home.
For, after all of the wedding excitement, the reality to follow was that we were leaving Israel…the best wedding gift ever… a life I’ll understand. So immediately from the bank began the gathering of loose ends. A frenzy of packing and suitcase rationing. Canceling of health insurance, my bank account, internet connection. I welcomes this disconnect gladly.; ‘take it! Take it all! Just get me home!’
Towards the end, I was throwing my most precious things like photo negatives into easily-stealable, possibly-burstable, overly-stuffed luggage and throwing it towards the door. OUT OUT OUT! I left my faerie posters in a tube for tsafi to bring back with him when he visits in march. That and my yoga mat. Everything else fit into 8 suitcases to be shipped as baggage with all our luggage allowances this week. The rest are still held captive on the roof of his parents house, possibly to endure another infestation of maggots and pigeon remains. I leave it up to luck that it will stay safe and clean until it all gets freight shipped by boat to los angeles. What plans we have! So many amazing things to come! But first this unglue period, this realignment, adjustment, a deep breath and then we plunge into our future like the characters in ‘far and away’ racing west to plant our flag…

LAST NEW YEAR’S IN ISRAEL

new years was uneventful. tsafi and i mauled each other and went to sleep early. i kept waking up to see if the blueish light of dawn was beginning and when it finally happened, i jumped out of bed to turn on cnn and watch the ball drop in times square. such a life far removed… i still can’t believe where i am… i’m impatient to get out of it. i almost expect something huge to prevent my leaving and then… i stop and realize that i’m leaving all this soon… there’s a strong possibility that i won’t see safta again. a big series of changes is about to sweep over us and i wish for nothing but to enjoy the progression and just know we will be fine, however we land….