Notes from Road: Chapter Two

On the side of the road in the Negev on the bus, watching our driver read the paper. Last night, Ehud Barack split from the Labor party to form his own. Apparently, he and Netanyahu had been planning this for weeks. We are all bleary eyed from adventures in the Bedouin tents, and two students have ankle ailments. I watch the rest of our group disappear into the distance on a hike.
On Sunday at Yad Vashem, I find myself sobbing (like a person in a Holocaust museum?) while watching black and white film of children in Poland before the war singing “Hatikvah.” They get me every time, those kids and that song, and yet the sting of it always manages to surprise me. At the end of the museum, in the room where quotes are projected onto the wall, I cry into a handkerchief of my grandmother’s, and it’s hard to tell if I’m crying because of her, or because of the Holocaust, or because the student beside me is also crying, and we are seeing the baldness of each other’s grief. I wonder what seeing me cry makes her think about the impact of this place, or if she doesn’t even know I’m in the room.
This is the work: throwing darts and hoping that one of them will hit someone, somewhere, knowing that we will likely never know exactly how. Today, I”m completely exhausted and therefore doubting my dart throwing ability. There’s a weird science to this, knowing when to throw, and it has to be balanced with your ego, your need to make them see who you are. For example, as much as I want to tell them the story of being at the Kotel last summer on the day Anat Hoffman was arrested, stomping around the slippery streets of the Old City incensed and sweaty, I haven’t yet. A relationship figures out its own way to be complicated, in its own time.
There’s no such thing as a normal day in this country, I think. Is that true, or is it just something Americans believe? In Israel, all sorts of crazy things happen-miracles, coincidences, encounters-or is that just what we’re told, and so we’re more open to the possibilities? (Oy, cynicism. You are a worthy opponent, but sometimes, I wish you would go away.)

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