I looked out the aircraft windows toward the back wings, and they started distancing from me. The airplane seemed to be lengthening itself as the wings became smaller and smaller, and soon I realized my part of the plane was falling, and I could feel it now in my body too, falling fast through thin air. I thought of looking out my window to see more clearly, but the fear kept me bogged down in place, facing the back of my seat. I was quite aware we might die. Every instant of consciousness I wondered if there would be a next, and if there wasn’t – what it would feel like.
Then I woke up, curled up with my head toward the back of the seat, lying on my folded jackets. I rose with a start, and the man sitting next to me asked if I need to get out. I said, no. And I added, I just had a nightmare that the plane was falling.
I remembered my open palms under the shower faucet earlier that day, and those moments of watching them and the water pour around them; this is a form of meditation for me.
This was similar to the micro-staring I did in the kitchen, when my father came to sit down for dinner and I closely observed my fork as it speared the food and rose from the plate into my mouth, to let the meal happen without feeling a burden of discomfort.
The water came gushing through the tips of my body, around the creases and lines of my ten fingers. This will be my last time here, I knew. My parents are moving. And so I breathed. I breathed as I stared.
I said goodbye to my room. I sat in it with the Russian tradition (sitting with hands on lap, eyes shut, then opening eyes, clapping hands on lap, and getting up and leaving), and then I came back in and looked around again; this time I photographed the room. I looked around and didn’t know how to properly bid farewell. I thought there must be some sort of way to find closure through a precise summary of an idea, a thought, or a process that has happened throughout my life here, and couldn’t conjure a satisfying notion. But one came to mind: I have grown to be a fairly good person, so thank you, room, for being mine for so many years.
And I walked out again.
And back in.
I had one last idea: to touch the walls. I touch things to make clear contact with reality. So here, I walked around the four walls of the room and touched them, and touched the furniture (because maybe my hands will remember the exact look of the room more than my visual memory) and then stood in the doorway and gestured a namaste thank you, and threw a kiss, and even kissed the mezuzah. And then I shut the light, and left, and didn’t go back.
Being in that home is always a mixed experience for me: sliding so effortlessly into a place of connection to it, and on the downside - sliding too easily into the place of being a child. I don’t want to be in that place, I have grown. Something there pulls me back into my sticky and nauseating parts of childhood, and that’s what I try to avoid. I was there for two weeks, and that was enough. Although words must be said about the upsides, too, so as not to take it all for granted. When I am in the home alone, or just with my mother, I feel safe. The kitchen is abundant in good food. I like my old room. It’s a sort of shrine of my life. I love sitting in my room, with all of my stuff and remembering Me.
My stuff is still there, mostly in boxes, so that my parents can lug it all with them to their next house, carrying the life creations of a vulnerable daughter who wanted to get away but couldn't find a better place for her things...
I realize that it was a good choice to live far away for now. I need to live with people who don’t pull me back into my disarray.
I missed Tal and Nemo a lot over the past two weeks, and now I’m on my way home to them.
Jerusalem was crowded, and its over-population streaming through the streets seemed to me in a sad and narrow-minded state of being. I even went so far as wondering how much a population can suck charity and wellness from governments without broadening their own selves by themselves. How awful of a notion, I reprimanded myself. But I couldn’t help thinking it…
I reunited with 11 dear friends at restaurants, street corners and their homes, sharing stories of being, and photographing each friend with the 1970’s Pentax SLR camera, with a 35 mm black-and-white roll of film I bought at the photo store in downtown Jerusalem at my first stop there. Two days before my flight back home, I finished the roll of film and went to my old photography school to develop the film. In the dark room, I pry open the film canister, unroll the film and roll it onto the wheel that then goes into the little Jobo tank, which I seal tightly. Then I go out into the light, fill the Jobo with developer, roll it around for ten minutes, then wash it out and then fill it with fixer, also for ten minutes, then wash it out for 20 minutes, and then open the lid, and slowly pull out the roll of film, revealing to me the product of my handiwork! I then scan the images digitally to the computer, and then leave the school and walk downtown, excited with my success in doing something I love.
I flew to Israel initially for a close friend’s wedding, which was a lot of fun. I got to wear a red dress which my sister sewed for me (the color scheme for close family and friends of the bride was red) and spend the day of the wedding with other red-dressed friends in the bride’s home, hanging around excitedly, eating pancakes and chatting while watching the bride have her hair and make-up done. At the wedding itself I danced like crazy, for hours. There were many old friends there, and fun music, and that’s a perfect setting for dancing my feet off :)
The fourth plane touched ground. 48 hours had passed since I left my parent’s home at 4 am for the airport. I was tired and hungry, and landed into cold and rainy Seattle.
Being in Israel was strange but also free-spiriting.