Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Even the paper guy at the shuk is illluminating....

אחר' ulpan אני הלכת ל קופת חולימ to sort out health coverage here in Tel Aviv. It's a tantalizing walk up Gruzenberg past the local music store with their own made guitars and across the burst of Allenby Street and a left after the 5 shekel carrot juice. It's almost so satisfying here only to walk the streets...  the feast for senses is so full, it almost fills any need for actual things. I went between the shops to the alley entry of the כלל'ת health service and ...So close I came to ...hebrew is intruding on my English! ordering a place for meeting the רופה and benefiting from state health insurance, so close only to be greeting by noone. Noone really, they were on strike. The door to a place called Paradise was opened if you went downstairs, but to go upstairs no way.... on strike....secretaries, the doctors, not sure, couldn't speak enough Hebrew. Yesterday someone translated for me that they were on strike and today the doors were locked to the clinic. Here speaking out is as basic and pita.

So I wandered along Allenby with rows of bursting shops filled with disorganized everythings. And I shopped curiously with empty bags. Then I remembered the perpetual challenge of organizing myself has come with me to Israel and I went into Shuk HaCarmel to see if I could find some little cardboard nicely designed drawers. Imagine a Middle Eastern Shuk with tightly snug consecutive slabs of fruits and veggies and bras and yarmulkes and cheese graters and juicers and pitas and spices.... along a narrow corridor of people and arms and legs and faces. I was happy to find that the guy I bought the cute paper drawer from before actually had a little booth of journals and notebooks and nicely designed organizational things. And it was there that I learned the I have to make room.

He spoke easy English and was warmed with my meager attempt at Hebrew...and so the conversation begins. Where are you from? How long have you been here? Did you make Aliyah? Wow good for you! Do you have family here?....and then a quick plunge into why. And quickly you are talking with an interested heart about why you changed everything to live here with them. Here people can handle the real answer and so we tumbled into the pull of my soul year after year and he asked if people started to tell me then to come to Israel as if to him it made so much sense.  And the encouragement of letting my brain make the switch to think in Hebrew and to not be afraid. With my head so full and tired it's hard. Tired from what? From moving. Moving? and moving. Moving? and moving...for 40 years. And his questions deepened and my answers in response as he tried to understand how I look so young. Together we figured out I lived forward the first 20 years and have been going backwards ever since.  I told how to begin anew I threw an egg into the ether on my 40th birthday and how it disappeared and he gasped as if he could feel the mystical happening it that moment. His hands talked from his heart and chest and his round face and soft body drew out what years of New England stuffed in. And he asked about my allergies and why so many from the states seem to be so sensitive and still he stayed atuned, so I told him that I believe here the people have a sense of place. They are more connection to family and friends and with the safety of כשר their bodies can relax. And he nodded with me. Here people eat vegetables in season, most of us in the states eat vegetable from the supermarket.  And there is more and more. And he told me that when he went to the states after the Army he stayed in Bethlehem Pennsylvania with his family. He didn't like it at all and was left with such a feeling of emptiness and loneliness that he felt in the states that 25 years later he had sadness in him as he talked about being there in the country of independence. I nodded. Deeper and farther with ease and interruption of people buying colorful journals and things. His dream of living in the desert and his resonance with living here. Easy. Just normal conversation here in the shuk. More questions in exchange and wonderful probing.  And an easy reference to the torah: חדש מפני ישן תעדיף new instead of old you prefer...let go make room don't be afraid to clean out and be left even with even one sock. His arms swept down and away from his body in an movement essential to life.  Make room for new to come in. More stories from him and the company hum of the shuk. Am I lonely here is asked. No. Not at all. And he encouraged me to make room, let go of the tired and the wondering, make room.
I think I'll have eggs for dinner. Shakshuka. Eggs and tomatoes and garlic. Eggs. The beginning of life.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Need to make room for Hebrew

I am so filled with experiences and stories there isn't enough room for the wonders of Hebrew. This language that envelopes me here like a constantly reverberating life force.  It is truly a fascinating language. The words themselves express the culture, like Eskimos with snow.  It's fascinating to discover the links between words and words and words and childhood memorizations and words and the world around me. It's a backwards and forwards flow from the torah to the toe.  Real talking is slow coming with the fillings of 40 years within me.  I feel full.  It's time to make room for Hebrew, and it's time to write the stories. I hope you'll enjoy them.

 Today while Hollow was peeing in the street in the drizzling rain in my tiny quiet old and integrated neighborhood of hip Tel Avivians, old Yemenite families, wine bars and French families, an Ultra Orthodox old man with black garb and a well earned white beard rolled past me on a 4 wheeled scooter encased in a plastic bubble. I almost didn't look twice. Then I realized.

Then I passed a street and noticed a man with a talit (prayer shawl) and the religious markings of tassels hanging from his clothes and I noticed to myself that it was unusual that he was standing in the small neighborhood street and not inside the tiny Bet Knesset... then I turned another corner and a soldier just entering the neighborhood gently asked me if I knew where there was a synagogue. Everywhere was my instantaneous answer, and then of course I knew why the about to pray man was noticeably in the street, and I guided to soldier to his minyon.  And then I forgave Hollow for getting me out of bed 20 minutes before my alarm. Time and space flow here seemingly with purpose.

Of course my sense of time is not yet aligned here as old habits give way only with a fight. So I was speeding to class on the tayellet by the sea when I had another pondering.... more than usual here I find myself awkwardly dodging oncoming bikes without the obvious manner of avoiding collision.
Normally when to bicyclists come face to face in a moment of face on chicken it resolves itself by the inclination to go as cars go and each leans to the right and safely passes.  But if you live in a country with people from all over the world, how does the inclination to lean as cars lean help if you are face to face with someone from... England let's say....

It's a world gone afooch here....and every moment can be a discovery...

Monday, November 2, 2009

growing again

Today I was drenched gut deep in wailing Mediterranean winds pushing raindrops with such vigor you could believe each little drop had a purpose. Who would believe that my most challenging rain bicycle adventure would be in Israel. This place continues to amaze me every day. I was so drenched from pushing my way through the wind I figured I would stop at the shuk and get some carrots for soup. The crusty old vegetable man with the cigarette hanging out of him tried to put me under his coat, dried my hands off on his belly and kept trying to wipe the water off of me.  He wouldn't let me go back into the rain and filled my bag with an extra beet, a lemon, and some odd looking potato carrot wrinkly ginger looking things I could not identity or understand.  Today in ulpan we learned the words for weather. Funny here they have one verb for putting on clothes, another for putting on shoes, another for putting on hats, and I think another for putting on gloves. For each you have to use the verb. We have umpteem ways of describing snow and here it's such an occasion for putting on clothes they have special verbs. In New England you would never get out of the house.

There are accumulating things I love about Israelis...

The other day I met someone with Hollow and exchanged the usual ... is she o.k. oh she's 15 she looks great... followed by ... "15? you know you don't have much time left?" Here they just say it. Every Israeli had managed to let me know that Hollow is old and they are not afraid to say the inevitable. Truth is, they are preparing well for nature's way.

And they talk to each other. They are not afraid of each other. All the time. On their cell phones, walking, driving, on bicycles, all over the streets, on the beach, in the cafes.... and especially when they have a question. They just ask. They want to know where something is, they ask. They want to why your here, they ask. They want to know how much is your rent they ask. They want to know what the line is for, how you get somewhere, how you do something or if someone is in the bathroom stall they just ask. Simple. And people respond with a completely normal capacity for responding. When you live in a country where people are available or the asking.... things happen.

And for me I am still hibernating in my new apartment here in Neve Tzedek in Tel Aviv and trying to heal my tired body.
Last night I unpacked the last box! The giraffe that Michael and I share is  here, the ringing bell from Erica is swinging on my mirpesset, the props and sandbox from my kids are here, the cook books, the high school year book and the old cedar chest from my great grandmother. My mother's old records, my grandmother's chair, and unfinished art projects. The full out shedding and recording of my belonging before I left was well worth it. My life is here. Full and abundant and with history and everything that arrived I am glad to have. It was grueling, I have to be honest. But it's been the unlayering of my life.

As I give away and sell and move and experience and unpack and sneeze, I feel truly that I am shedding off the year's of living almost. Almost as myself, almost in myself and my place. It's exhausting to live not as your full self. It's done it's damage to my body and spirit, but as I shed off the layer of adaptation and pains, I'm finding the soul untouched. It's as I remember it at birth and I'm closer and closer to living as myself each day. It's a wonder when you completely start over. You truly can be as you wish. There is noone to resist.

I've been sick for weeks. Asthma, sinuses, can't breath, keep bumping into things, falling over, cutting myself and finding all sorts of ways to need bandaids. I feel layers deeper into the unveiling of my birth. I'm going forward from my fortieth birthday starting life again and backwards as I shed off the layers of old unsuccessful lives back to the beginning. It's strange how much I feel the symptoms I am experiencing are old. I am now in the deep early stages of asthma and sensitivities to life.

Here there are pharmacists who are naturapaths also. I sat with one the other day trying to sort out and source the intensity of my experiences. He showed me a pyramid beginning at birth and going up the left side of the triangle with 0,7,14, 21 years at the point, and down with 28, 35, 42. The years going up correspond with the years going down and indicate a parallel of reexperiencing at 28 what you did at 14, 35 at 7, and 42 at birth. That puts me and my Aliyah at the stage from 1-2 years of age. Right when my asthma was terrible, I was allergic to everything, and I was testing out this new world. This is when I almost died from asthma.  Now is when my asthma has the sheer resemblance to my early years... and it's persistence and presence has left me wondering and saying so for weeks before I learned of this theory. I have been learning to walk, learning to talk, bumping into things, saturated with new stimulation, and absolutely absorbing. I feel as if I am new and developing an immune system and saying goodbye to the old ways my body tried to survive.  It's a bit circular to feel the parts of my body that hold the memories as they were recorded. If you go back into yourself enough, you get to the old cells. If this is your journey. It's not for everyone.

Today I talked to Cary for the first time. And today and I met Senai. Her gorgeous little new baby. We have a lot in common. He's having some trouble with his lungs and some dislike for the toxins in his little body. He's having more challenges than the average new little life. Gam Ani. We said goodbye and I went to make carrot soup...a bit like baby food I realized. He and I are going to grow up together. I bet we can learn a lot from each other. "All beginnings are hard" they say here. Le'at le'at, slowly slowly.