I fell in love with the city of David ,
long before i fell in love with David.
And David who never fell for me,
placed the stones upon
trying to forget David
then i found something
greater than an infatuation
it was an initiation
to knowing that there are
greater and more wondrous
places in the world
but none as deep
as the human heart
that hurts and longs
towards a shepherd
who does not know
for the sheep
this is all that will ever be
an infinity revolving
around a searching me.
It might have been thanks to my mother that i had decided one day, exactly one day AFTER the academic year had begun to go to the main station and board that bus that had taken me to Jerusalem , towards the next four years of my life spent in searching for a direction in life, a search that would only be a beginning of my life now free to seek my fortune, having spent 21 months in the Israeli Army, three months in rehabilitation after a severe car accident and now it was my time to fly, and it was partly due to an argument with my mother, one of many that made me decide it is time to leave home, finally, for good.
I would be returning to my mother again and again, seeking a nest , but Jerusalem was my first attempt at following my own path in life after having followed the school’s path, completing my high school education, completing my exams, trying to get the best grades i could in order to get into medical school, having failed to do that, i got drafted into the Israeli Defense Army, a car accident added challenges to a life that before that seemed to be infinite with possibilities, i had good grades, i was disciplined and i wanted more than anything to find a cure for cancer after my father had died slowly of cancer during my last year of high school.
I met David during my basic training, but he did not notice me, sitting with his sister , Rachel, and his parents eating together a family meal during the family day..my family, my older brother and mother arrived too late, my mother brought me home made granola , it was not as appetising as the Humous and flat bread Rachel had with her family..
During my army service i was befriended by an odd girl called Chava, who had taken over my life somehow, we were both socially isolated on an army base where we were outcasts, i was depressed and Chava had bad acne which is why she had gone to the army dermatologist for medicine, she met a soldier there who had a room mate who was interested to meet a girl, which is how David came back to my life thanks to Chava’s meddling ..we met on a blind date which was only blind for David, i think we went to see a movie, but did not end up watching the film ..we began a very intense relationship, and David became a welcomed guest at our home.. shortly after we had began dating my best friend, the dog i had had since i was seven years old , had suddenly died during the high holidays. David came to take me to the beach and we tried to figure out what to do with the dog’s rigid body that had layed beneath the dining room table where he had died, a family dog to the end..The Tel Aviv Zoo next to our family home had closed down, the animals had been transported to a larger space “The safari” where the animals could roam free outside of cages, amongst them “Motek” ( sweetheart) my favourite , a large African elephant that had found its place in our family photo album again and again , standing in his tiny cage..a new shopping center was being built and the foundations dug, a perfect place for burial since David had refused to take the dead dog in his small car and drive to the uninhabited sand dunes where my mother thought would be a better choice of burial. ..My mother went into the cellar and found a spade and so that is how David, unused to physical work, a certified genius recruited to help develop technological discoveries ended up digging in the earth of the Tel Aviv Zoo, we placed the dead body of my best friend in the earth, i said some silent words and with tears the dog had been buried beneath the foundations of the new shopping center..
After David had buried my dog, our relationship had taken a turn for the worse somehow, it was no longer about going out to movies or even meeting friends, it was more about what we had in common and it seemed that David did not share my fondness of animals and biology , he was a Physics and Math major and excelled in his studies, i was a dreamer which is how i came to board the bus to Jerusalem, where i had registered to study Biology .
A year after i had began studying Biology in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s science campus in Givat Ram, the university had been forced to evacuate its Mount Scopus campus ‘original place after Jordan had occupied it in 1948 , i had been forced to change majors to social sciences in the Mount Scopus campus changing majors to Psychology and Theater studies after i had realised i am not going to contribute much to Biology having failed miserably in Math, Chemistry and only succeeded in Physics where i could dream about stars..David had broken up with me that same year after he had refused to help me with my Math homework, claiming it was MY homework and i should therefore do it on my own, so i realised that in fact i did have “to do it on my own” and moved on to a different field of study where soon my life would unfold in a different direction too..It was then i began writing down my emotions in poems, i had written an entire notebook dedicated to David..he wrote me back after i had sent him one poem wishing me luck in Jerusalem , “where i was sure to meet lots of nice guys” ..the clue was very clear, i had learned to move on ..
In Mount Campus student dorms i officially personalised my space by hanging a photo of the handsome writer “Amos OZ”, whose novels, especially “My Michael” had awakened my romantic imagination and gave me hope that i too , like the heroine of the novel, would stumble upon true love on the steps of the university .It was not upon the steps that i had fell in love again but in the computer center where i had began talking to a handsome man who had studied with me, he had introduced me to yet another aspect of Jerusalem, one of the North African immigrants, Moroccan Jews, who had came to Jerusalem seeking to be near the Messiah .. my boyfriend was a son of illiterate yet pious jews who had practiced their faith by memorising prayers , they had lived in the poorest section of Jerusalem , had six children in a two room apartment and my friend was the family greatest hope ; a bright man with a gift for study, he was studying law and Psychology and was hoping to one day be a judge ..I had spent two years exploring Moroccian traditions in depth , visiting the graves of the righteous in the North, learning of the family’s tragic loss during a terror attack in the Northern city of Maalot, visiting Herzel mount military cemetery where my friend had lost friends during the army service, we went everywhere together and it was him who had suggested i teach English at a local Jerusalem school. It was here that my career as an English teacher took off. A vocational girls school had offered me an opportunity to teach English , and i used this experience to combine my Theater background motivating the girls to practice business office English by pretending to be characters of a popular American t.v. show “Dallas”.
One thing led to another and it was during the party of the graduating law school that i had met my next friend, a son of a well known Jerusalem judge who had been singing during the party…once again Chava, my army friend, had intervened, her Lawyer father had known the judge and so we made a phone call and i introduced myself to a man i almost married , i spent another year in Jerusalem living in his apartment and attending University trying to improve my grades so i could attend graduate school and become a psychologist but it was during those months i found myself secretly sketching more and more and trying to get into art school instead.
I sketched the wash, i sketched anything and everything i observed while my friend was busy teaching or studying, publishing and editing legal articles, i had no interest in, we did have a common love of music and had attended concerts together, he had introduced me to Nina Simon, and “You put a spell on me” , would be forever connected to those days in Jerusalem when i would look out the window of the apartment overlooking Jerusalem hills and wash and stone houses, and dream of doing something more creative than studying for the graduate degree in developmental psychology.
One day, i had decided that i had had enough of waiting around for my friend to decide on a date for our wedding, i did keep the engagement ring he had given me, a beautiful red ruby shined and promised endless love but he would not agree to marry me in the foreseeable future , and so i had packed my books and belongings and headed back to Tel Aviv, on my last exile from the city of David.
I had returned to Jerusalem after i had completed a graduate degree in Education of creativity in Boston, i had gone to a concert given by Sinead O’connor and sang silently “Nothing compares to you” , still hurting having lost my beloved to a more academically eligible candidate and went back to Tel Aviv, and then met a foreigner who had led me into exile in Europe.
I had brought my ex husband to Jerusalem and he had wanted to see the temple mount, and so i did go there even though it is officially forbidden for Jews, so that my ex husband could see the golden mosque , i recall we were told not to hold hands..i also brought another Swiss friend to Jerusalem so he could see the holy places and write his mother a postcard, and my children had become familiar with Jerusalem , we always went to the wailing wall and placed a note there, wishing for peace and harmony, was basically what it was about for me, anyhow.
The city of eternal peace that i had come to because of a fight with my mother had become a place where i had argued with my own teenager daughter years later , she had wanted to visit a friend who had moved to Jerusalem, my other son and i were not invited to join her, it was then i had learned that Jerusalem meant different things to different people but it always meant independence to me, and so i had let my daughter go by herself to visit her school friend who had emigrated with her mother to Jerusalem and did not wish to upset her quiet life by inviting us too.
Closing a door means opening another, and so the city that had been the stage for my development and had me step forward and then backward had now become a place that had meant less and less for me though i will always cherish the christmas i had sang with Eileen , the harp lady, Leonard cone’s “Halleluya ” on Ben Yehuda street, during a time i had tried to reconcile with my family after my mother had died and a friend had invited me to spend a sabbath in the city , i had found that not only the river can not be stepped into twice but Jerusalem too , had changed for me, every time i had visited ; From my first memory as a three year old child after the war of 1967 , visiting the Arab section, listening to my father speaking Arabic to a merchant, then visiting during the army service after a long hike, before my car accident, and then studying in both campuses of the Hebrew University , walking across the city in order to battle nervousness and test anxiety , visiting the market place, shopping for my student meal, walking through the snow to classes , living in Jerusalem with a beloved, and then finding myself alone in the city that is called the infinite city of peace, finding my own place in the world, as a seeker, as a mother, as a human being to whom places mean less and less and yet something about the light of the golden city and the flavors of its sesame flat bread with zatar spice , its smells triggers in me emotions of hope for peace in the world around me and more importantly within my self, with or without a David by my side, learning to be like Jerusalem , independent, and strong despite the many changes throughout time , remaining a place of hope for peace for first of all myself then others, but first of all, a place for me to be me.