Thursday, August 16, 2007

Living the Dream, Man, Living the Dream....

Shabbat Shalom, ya'll. It's 7pm on Thursday evening in Jerusalem, and the weekend is officially upon us here in the Land of Milk and Honey. The heat of the midday sun has been replaced by a cool breeze that comes from the Galilee. A literal breath of fresh air, it arrives every evening around 5pm and cools everything down. It's funny how very few people realize how cold it gets in the desert at night.

At the moment, I am sitting in a coffee shop near campus and starting to shiver in my jeans, flip flops and white cotton shirt. My hair isn't so clean, and it's sitting in a loose ball on top of my head. As it continues to grow, I'm discovering that it now has a mind of it's own, and I don't have the will to tame it.

I'm exhausted from a week of doing nothing but eat, sleep, work-out and study Hebrew. Once again, my inner, middle school girl-geek is trying to swallow the ocean of a new language passed the age when human beings have the mental capacity to do such a thing. For what its worth, she's a nice girl. Friendly. Studious. She smiles at the Arab kids in school and laughs when the boys say disgusting things because they think that she doesn't understand. She has a good sense of humor. She's also very nice to the weird kids in class, but for the most part she prefers her own company to that of others. She likes to sneak off during class breaks and sit outside in a garden that overlooks the Judean Valley to the east. She does this because she knows that if she hangs around with the international crowd, she will become a smoker like them. She loathes cigarrettes and bad habits, but there is tangible sense of self-destructive temptations around her. After all, this is Jerusalem.

There's a certain madness in a place where people from all over the world come to study the same language and experience a similar version of God. There's a loose, frenetic energy that international people have, especially when they are far from home, but most especially when they come to Jerusalem. I enjoy this sort of energy, but I also prefers to avoid being sucked into the madness. Maybe it scares me. Or maybe the truth is that I'm just reverting to my uber-cool high school mentality of knowing better than to waste my time in the muck of gossip and drama.

For what it's worth, the past two weeks have been the most banal weeks since my arrival here 3 months ago. Part of it has been settling in to a new routine, a new language, and a new set of rules and regulations around me. My ability to adapt has been tested once again, but it's been somewhat heavier and harder this time. I'm no longer a visitor in someone's home. I have air-conditioning with a remote control. I have had to wrap my mind around the fact that I am living in a place where many people would be otherwise unfriendly to me if they knew where I have been and what I have been doing on the other side of the wall they built to protect themselves from a mass group of people that they regard as terrorists. Funny how that happens.

But, yes, the weekend is here. The sun is now almost down, and I'm heading home to take a hot shower, do something creative with my hair, unravel a bit more from a week of work and insomnia, and get myself dolled up for an evening out with friends. Tomorrow I will sleep and do some reading (in English). If I'm feeling up for it, I will catch a bus and spend the day on the beach under an Tel Aviv. I will most likely go alone. Aside from the weather in the evenings, and a lovely man in Washington, DC who is good at renting cars and arranging his business schedule months in advance, my own company is the most comforting thing I have right now.


Laura said...

Shabbot Shalom indeed! As a sort of fellow jew-in-training, I went to my second shabbes service last night. It was all in Czech and Hebrew. I had no idea what was going on, but the vibe was great. I love checking in to your blog to get the virtual vibe from across the oceans, and I hope I get out there sometime this year. Is Isreal nice in February?

Haven't been posting as many comments lately but I'm always checking in. And... I'm jealous. The Palestine experience sounded amazing. While you may be relaxing into the (seemingly) good life now, I know you'll manage to make it interesting!

slinky said...

Ah, well said, Namaste! You've seemed to master the fine art of loving your own company first and (as our friend Sark writes), being your "own best friend". Beautiful.... How rich you are!