it’s ten to eight in the evening and the lights are all the right colors. the sky purple gray in variation, street lights and windows orange and green, the tower banded in a steady red, with flashers at the top and lower down.
i have come and gone from the city of tel aviv (whereas the campus, where i live, is just north of the city) and in doing so:
chatted in Hebrew with my bus seat-mate. we got off at the same stop. she called me “mituka” (sweetie) and held my hand for a moment before we parted on the street
chatted in Hebrew & English with a crafter at the street market. she complemented my glasses. i told her how much that meant to me, since they are new and i wasn’t 100% sure of them. her eyes grew wide. i said it was a big deal and i gave her five and she, too, held my hand for a moment
stopped and admired really amazing, amazing crafts from vendors (some of whom i recognized from visits in previous years…) and started calculating how much it would cost to buy all of the things i fell in love with and thought about coming back and just doing it – buying all of my favorite things. the chamsa, and the pomegranate, and the man with a bird in his head, and the wallet made of my grandfather’s favorite coffee packet, and a glass pendant from the japanese woman who married an israeli, and some glass mezuzot for the people i love. all of it. a market truly full of wonder and love.
bought loose zatar from the vendor who let me taste before i chose. bought halva from the vendor who let me taste before i chose, too. heard the fruit vendor yelling that the tourist should stop taking pictures of his fruit.
took pictures of graffiti. great, great graffiti. and thought about the street art and the wall scribble that abounds in tel aviv. like the street is a coloring book. and thought about street art and hip hop, and english and language, and research topics and things…
took the bus
ate falafel, but definitely not the best falafel… i think the best falafel shop was displaced by a new building and now i have to best-falafel-find all over again
used punctuation and failed to use punctuation
got a headache from riding the bus backwards after eating falafel on the street, during which time, i am fairly certain, falafel fell down my shirt and into bra… or maybe just out the bottom of my shirt, because there is no falafel on me anymore
and had an interview that didn’t feel like an interview and now have to decide if i can swing starting my “stage”… that’s practicum… coincidentally with my first semester. it’s a really great placement opportunity. i will learn a lot… and maybe be overwhelmed… but be traveling into and out of the city center twice a week, compulsory…
and wrote an email
and did ok in class
and bought a box of tea
and looked around, and saw what i recognized, and thought of what i did before, and thought of what i was doing right then, and
now, here i am. and this brief reflection must close. 2.5 hours to read a chapter of a book and take some notes starts:
first day of classes. ma tesol/ulpan. tel aviv university. holy. shit.
a recent and fairly consistent thought: what the f— am i doing here?
yes. really! c’mon, guys. the slides are in the projector. let’s click back a few. awesome friends, excellent apartment, money to spare on ice cream and beer, beautiful views…
ok. forwards now. but just a few clicks of the knob: tamar contemplates two big life goals. loving family companionship partnership, breaking through by breaking down into the ground, digging deep, getting really vulnerable, learning to tell the truest truth and listen when it’s spoken. uhm. and learning deep into the curiosity of years’ old curiosity – language, talking, verbs, dictionaries, accents, questions, speaking, conversing, communicating, exchanging, tongue to roof of mouth: currency of telling, telling. (this is all code for learning to teach and teaching to learn language!)
and now to right here. tamar on a bed with mis-fitting sheets, five floors up, facing the mediterranean…! (well, facing the wall at the moment, but the window faces that sea, even at night with the shade down…) here i am: digging, telling, asking, breaking down to build to build to build, and: please god, let me build up.
finding my way between past and present: get to it. get to what i am capable of back then, right now. right now i can look at the steps i am taking up the street between what? and huh? and find myself saying yes. and sure. not yes! and sure! just yes. yes. and sure. definitely. sure.
back then, right now, i find a way to buy groceries, school supplies, find a way to do homework because learning this stuff is either impossible or possible. the greatest predictor of school success is optimism. (did i read that or hear that today? honestly, i think that might be from facebook. maybe a prince ea video.)
anyway, i didn’t imagine it, but i am imagining it now: optimism in my nescafe, optimism in the flowers blooming from tree limbs that reach over painted gates to greet the sidewalk, optimism that reviews and reads aloud, optimism that places sharp pencils into pencil case, optimism that puts lines of poetry on the fridge door and looks at the few book spines of pleasure reading on the shelf and looks forward to deepening the indigenous groove of learning that is dug deep in the soft circuitry of the brain, the heart, the brain, the being…
being here. back then. right now. right now. right now.
school will start and i will sweat and fall through a hundred holes.
i will fall through a hundred holes –
with pens gripped, notebook pages crinkled, and naps desired
i will roll into new cities… not just one city; not just one city inhabited by half a million people, but half a million cities encountered one by one by one.
school will start soon.
school will start soon and i will be among you, falling through holes – but i don’t mind. i just wanna hear, i just wanna feel everything.
i just wanna feel whatever it feels like and tell it like it is and fall through any hole without needing to come to rest in any dark pit, just slip through the falling, just be in the being, being true, being true, being true.
i missed you and i made a mess, but school will start soon and i will sweat and fall through a hundred holes. and i can’t keep your ear close. so i will learn to whisper in every direction; i will learn to whisper in the only direction – the infinite direction – and you are one of us, and what needs to hear will hear, and what needs to look ahead will find a gentle way to look ahead, and what needs to fall through holes will fall, will fall, will amazingly, miraculously fall.
from john f. kennedy airport, queens, ny
layed-over; en route
not a traveller. not proudly self-sufficient, blood swirling with adrenaline and pride and appraisal as in my early long-distance travels. just holding a sort of stillness, mid-way through a lay-over — not a traveller, but a person at mid-day, spending an afternoon in an airport full of blue carpet waiting spaces filled with connected segments of blue pleather chairs.
the tarmac resembles a taxi yard to me – men and women and children entering the vessels, their things clutched, just to be taken away from home or toward. but, no. it’s better than that. because (chris walters:) home is not singular. and that is why i am not a traveller today. today i am a human woman, american woman, i am this woman who observes — and the stream of people i see moving down the corridor are alive beyond the boundaries of their origins, their languages, their complexions, their views. these are all in tow – but they are beyond them in a central space where we have the real potential to exceed ourselves, our first places, our first beliefs, our first understandings – because we are stepping out; we are stepped out. we are stepped out from a place where the view is small into a space where it is larger, into a bazaar of crossing paths.
there is a woman, not two seats away, tears in her eyes, looking for a tissue in her things, finding one, daubing her nose and her eyes. i can feel the warm lump of her tears in my own throat. a man who works here reclines in a seat around the corner, jacket and shoes off. i can feel his shoulders in my body, leaning back for a while, breathing out, loosening.
three notes on the internal landscape this morning…
- soon i will be surrounded by another language, surrounded, in a way, in that way, by what i am not, what i cannot decipher, what i cannot interject, what i have not yet acquired the ability to exchange.
- i attended a women’s retreat this weekend and this is what i learned: every next thing is part of the sacred journey. every next thing can be approached as ritual. there is no part of the day in which i need be separated from the potential to be present and to grow. all of this is an opportunity to be with intention. still, or active. silent, or speaking. fresh from the washing, or sticky in the armpits.
- walking into the security check while looking over my shoulder to see my mother on the other side of the stanchion tape, i swung my guitar case into a stanchion, affecting a rather loud clang. i turned around smiling – silly, clumsy, noisy moment made out of eyes-on-my-mother-while-still-stepping-out!-stepping-out!. when i got my head around to forward, every TSA officer was alert as a woodland animal sensing danger, all eyes fast upon me. i addressed each set of eyes with my own, smiling, smiling. see? i am safe. i am safe. the one who took my passport said lovingly, “of course i get all the trouble makers…” and i knew with a suddenness that the quiet fear in my out-into-the-world-gut, the quiet fear thickened by sorrow from news and again more news, was a potential these folk rose and attended to each morning… and yet: HERE THEY WERE. here they were, keeping the world open to us. open and open and open and open to us.
may we keep entering the open, keep stepping out, keep entering the bazaar of crossing paths where we can see each other’s eyes and lives and bodies just a little — but if we really let ourselves look and see, then just enough. enough for now. enough for continuing, again, more bravely still tomorrow.
[post script: arrived safe on the ground at destination. more! to! come!…]