Somewhere in the 3rd week of October
I don’t know how it happens that our feet sometimes take us just where we need to be. I was exhausted and sick and feeling more like I wanted to be under giant fluffy covers than to step into the street and the ein sof of all things here. But my feet moved, so my body had to agree. I’ve been wandering for so long that my feet are still roaming like legs off a bicycle that still feel like they are peddling. So off we went with my legs to a place navigated by who knows what and carried out by my feet. I left the complication of unpacking and figuring of just arrived belongings from and I wandered as I have many times through Neve Tzedek and up towards the park on Shlush Street and was pulled straight down the stairs of a nostalgically comforting antiquey place partially undergound in the stone walls of yesterday. I was in that mood where you’re too tired to talk to anyone and you think maybe if walk with your eyes closed noone will see you. So dreamily I rolled to the back of the store not really looking at anything and there in the corner was a giant Charlie Chips can! A Charlie Chips potato chips can…. the ones that were to delivered to my house at 724 Kentwood Street Phila, PA 19116 when I was a kid. They were the best chips ever and this big soft guy we called Charlie came every week in a truck and delivered eggs, I think, and Charlie Chips potato chips. For a moment I questioned where I was. Or how old I was. Then I blinked my eyes in that silly am I dreaming way and looked again. But there it still was in a nostalgically comforting old stone place on Shlush Street in Israel. A Charlie Chips can with Mountville, PA 17554 written on it. I carried it to the front of the store to the distinctly Israeli woman and she said strongly, Yea, I lived in Philly for 25 years. 25 I think. In one moment my worlds merged. She knew Philly, she is Israel, she knows the Jewish community of Philly and the ish of the suburbs and the struggle of the Diaspora Jew and the intensity of the Israeli Jew and the burden of both. She knows where I grew up, why I belong here and all about the Charlie Chips can. She is the only person I know who can follow the lace of all the parts of my life and my soul’s journey to here. She has four of her own kids, one at 43 and one at 45. So as we sat among the pieces of various periods of American and world history we merged my world. We brought the wandered fragments here. Dayenu…and that would have been enough. But then my eyes wandered as my feet did and they fell onto a giant framed poster of a little boy face to face with lying down camel intently feeding it a peanut. Above them were the words: Sunday Magazine of the Philadelphia Press...August 27, 1905. I was smitten. Both with the boy and the camel. It’s a Herbert Paus Normal Rockwell looking poster. Remember, I just came out of 3 months in the desert with the camels!
I could barely pull myself away, but managed to say goodbye to all of them with her invitation to come visit me more. And Dayenu, that would have been enough.
On Friday I went to back over to say hello and to visit the boy and the camel but I arrived after she closed. Shabbat sends everyone to dinner and rest early here. So I peered in the window to visit with the poster as old friends and it was gone. I searched around as much as I could through the window and couldn’t see it, but I felt for sure that it was for me. Did someone buy it?? It couldn’t be. It couldn’t be that someone would interfere with my life like that. So I decided not to panic and went home knowing that the boy and the camel were with me.
I returned a few days later and woman who know my life said she had something for me. Dayenu. She pulled out the giant poster of the boy and the camel and said it must be mine. Dayenu, that would have been enough. But…Sometime after we talked it had randomly fallen off the wall and shattered. Nothing ever falls from her walls. With the glass shattered and some scars from the fall on its face, she could not sell it. It was mine.