Notes from the Road: Chapter 3 (The Last)
(This is actually a misleading title, because I am not on the road anymore, and have not been since Friday morning, Israel time.)
In the end, no one implores anyone else to make aliyah. It is suggested by those who love me, as a concept, not as a panacea. I was given implicit instructions by someone I deeply respect to not make any decisions about Israel while in Israel, leading me to the conclusion that doing so would be like having an extended relationship with someone while drunk.
On the last night in Tel Aviv, we wander the streets, search for hookah, watch the anarchist punk kids alongside the Lubavitch folks in the kikar. I hide out upstairs at Loveat. I recognize the woman behind the counter from six months ago, her hair is much shorter now, reminding me once again that people have ordinary lives here, they do things like go to work and get hair cuts. I seem to lose that knowledge, even though I want other people to have it. (In Israel, I’m always too paranoid to get a hair cut, so I just do it myself.)
We sit together in Gan Meir, which reminds me of Tompkins Square Park, with fewer dogs. A kid eavesdropping on our group’s conversation wants to make a l’chaim to ganja. We all love him immediately. I see the Facebook albums of the future.
In the airport, everyone discusses the impending semester while checking their email via the free Ben Gurion wireless and drinking beers. Two people learn that they are in a math class together. One person runs into a childhood friend in the bathroom. We are all gobsmacked to be leaving on time, since the idea of snow in New York is now disproportionately terrifying. No one seems emotional, but then, you can’t tell by looking at someone always, and maybe it’s better to leave emotion out of it? That seems to be the crux of the problem.
I wake up on the plane thoroughly confused, imagining instead that we’re all on the bus, being spoken to by our tour guide, not the pilot. I remember about standing at the corner of Shenkin and Ben Yehuda, sucking air into my lungs, hoping to keep something in and something else out. Everything feels bleary and heavy and not quite real, which is the way of it on planes. Around me, the people who were once strangers sleep through turbulence. What has this meant to them?