Monday, June 05, 2006

Life is Never Boring in Jerusalem

My life has always been an adventure...student teaching in the 'Projects' in Detroit in the 60's...moving to Jerusalem...getting married...having kids. Then one day I gave up my family and my car and took up residency in Jerusalem.

I moved here with two girlfriends from Detroit, who I will call Sarah and Leah. We found a great apartment on Ha Palmach Street...very fancy...very posh. And it also had fifty-six stairs. You forgot something? You were back on the stairs. You dropped something? You were on the stairs. At the time, everyone carried little multi-coloured cloth mesh bags to put stuff in. There were no plastic or paper bags anywhere...still no paper bags...we try to plant trees and not cut them down. So we quickly learned to double check the mesh bags before we left the house, so we wouldn't have to go back and get them. Of course, we always could give up and buy new ones but money was tight and that was a waste.

Then came rule number one...if you can't carry it, don't buy it. One day we outdid ourselves and then couldn't drag the stuff home. And never mind the steps!

Our first business of the day was to enroll in the Ulpan and learn Hebrew and master the supermarket up the street. In the Supersol they had everything. Well, we think they had everything. My Hebrew at the time was Shalom and Bli Yadayim...Hi and hands off! Ahh the good old days, but that's another story.

Now in the supermarket, if it didn't have a picture on it, we had absolutely no idea of what was inside. Sometimes we took a chance, and dinner was an adventure that night, but usually we could figure it out and managed.

Simple. Living here then was like traveling back fifty years in a time machine. Nasser was dead three days before we knew. Oh, sure, we had a radio, but everything was either in Hebrew or Arabic. Eventually, we did discover the English News and became women of the world, once again.

Those were great days. The wool shop had two kinds of wool...thick and thin and only in the primary colours. If you wanted to get anywhere you ran for the bus. And best of all you could walk anywhere, day or night and not be afraid.

After coming from Detroit and the race riots of the 60's, it took me a long time before my heart didn't klap every time I heard footsteps behind me. But we were safe and we walked. In the city, around the city, in the Old City. We walked.

Today I still walk, but today I am aware of everything and everyone around me. Today I listen and look to see who is walking with me. And sometimes I change my direction and move to the little side streets.

I still ride the busses. But now it's like playing chess. Is this seat good, should I move over there? Maybe towards the back is better.

Last week I left work in the Clal Building (yes the same building that was blown up while we were inside a couple of years ago this month) and immediately I heard the hum. Now the hum is something only Israelis hear. An electricity in the air that hints of danger. Here are the clues. Outside the building were three policemen with walki-talki's. Across the street, at my bus stop there wasn't one bus guard, but three and another one with a sniffer dog. The bus stops were over crowded as no traffic was coming through.

I had to decide...taxi or bus? When the traffic finally began to move, it was so congested that I figured it didn't matter. Either way, I would be sardined between the busses and cars, so I took my life in my hands and entered the bus.

My 83 year old mom,who lives downtown and has the 'whoozsh' called me and asked where I was and made me promise to phone when I got home.

It has been a long time since I've been scared, but that day I have to admit, I was nervous. I couldn't wait to get away from downtown and off the bus. So, I did the next best thing. I called my friend Rena. I figured, if I was going to die, then someone should know where I was.

Instead of twenty-five minutes it took over an hour to get home. Later that night we were told that they had been on high alert as they had information that a suicide bomber was either on his way into the city or already there.

Once again I realized how 'boring is better.' I've had enough excitement in my life for three lifetimes. And now it's time for boring.

But as things look, I think it will be a long time before it gets boring in the Middle East. Maybe never. Too bad.

But this is the Holyland. This is the land of miracles. This is where we have 'the original cast' and anything can happen...even boring.

I still put my money on the good guys waking up in time to save the day.

But in the meantime...have a great day...stay safe...and thanks for dropping in.

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