Jerusalem. Always the resilient type, my stomach is firm again, and I am leaving tomorrow for a few days in Spain. When I booked the ticket two months ago, I had no way of anticipating how I would be feeling after 4 months of living in Jerusalem again. With certainty, I can now say that the timing of the trip could not be better planned. If a rough ride through gastro-intestinal hell this week was not enough, an old familiar feeling of claustrophobia for where I am has hit me hard. Far from being a complaint, this is merely the observation that Jerusalem can be a tough place to live for a person with any amount of sensitivity to the human condition. It is a place that can build you up and drop you down without notice. It can be quite a roller coaster at times, and I'm only talking about the bus ride around town!
The truth is that I need to come up for some fresh air from my life here and its day-to-day banalities. The hyper-religiousity of Jerusalem combined with a markedly vapid state of self-induced social and political ignorance among a large part of the population here is something that I have learned to deal with, but not fully embrace. My day-to-day life involves navigating between my own, inner terrain of love and hate while externally weighing the odds of getting on a bus or going into a public shopping place from one minute to the next. My daily life here is a constant test of my will to tangibly exist. On a regular basis, I find myself feeling that Jerusalem, in particular, is a place where one must decide on a constant basis to eat or be eaten. And yet, sometimes, the American in my appetite lacks for this way of being.
Do I love it? Unequivocally, yes. Do I hate it? Only sometimes. Of course, all of this takes into account that I can make my mind up to be happy just about anywhere. The truth is that there are always benefits and drawbacks to living in such a way that one is forced by default to exist so deeply and consciously. In many ways, the endlessly odd and winding conundrums of Jerusalem suit me perfectly for where I am in my life and who I am at the present moment. Jerusalem is a place of multiplicities and austere simplicity at the same time. It is simultaneously a place of always knowing and never knowing. A city built entirely in stone, and yet it always feels like Jerusalem is sand in my fingers. Perhaps I will always be content as the child running to catch up, and yet this, my friends--this is the essence of Jerusalem.