What is this place with the fountains and the scaffolding? the people wandering by in their own world on their cellphones. The elderly couple on a stroll with their matching canes. Endless flat stone patio baking in the mid afternoon sun. I can hear the cares and trucks and buses around me but the road is hidden by trees and landscaped sitting areas. There goes a man with a brilliant bunch of balloons walking a cute little black dog with a cold, wet nose. There goes a stoic religious man with his tall black hat and tzit tzit, walking with purpose out of the shade.
Here I sit in an undiscovered corner of my city. On a bench, in the shade. Someone put this bench here for people to sit and relax. It feels as though I might be the first person to ever take advantage of it. This is a cross through for so many people. A Short-cut from point A to point B. Do they even notice how soothing the water sounds against the busy traffic noises? Everyone is in a rush. Hustling and bustling by me in three different directions. I am the only one who is still.
When I left my apartment this morning, I didn’t know exactly where I was going. Only that I wanted to be out.
This bench is hard but it’s nice to sit in the cool breeze and watch the landscaped cattails blowing in the wind. The remind me of being very small on Chesapeake Bay on Chincoteague Island. Somehow, I only have two real memories from Chesapeake. One is being in the house and playing with the wooden ducks my mom used to collect. The other is walking outside and smearing this sunblock on my face that my sister gave to me. Neither are so important. Neither are very consequential. They just exist in my head, floating around in my own personal information storage cloud in my brain.
In fact, I have so fe precious memories from my life in Maryland. I often wonder how I would be different if we had stayed there. I see my best friend, Alex, from that time and how her life turned out. Married, 2 cats, and a dog, managing a pet store of sorts. No college. No real big achievements on her CV. Just a small life in a hundred mile radius of where she grew up. I have a pin, in my mom’s house, that has a picture of Alex and I from kindergarten. Best friends forever. I was supposed to be a bridesmaid at her wedding. That wedding fell through. When she got re-engaged to someone else, she didn’t even tell me, let alone invite me to be part of it. Why is that? What happened to us? How did she stay in MD/VA while I traveled all over the world, landing in, of all places, Israel? Do you create your own destiny or is fate just a bizarre puppet-master?
Sometimes I look at pictures of American suburbia and I think that is looks so nice and peaceful. So beautiful. Some of the architecture has so much character. But why aspire to have something that millions of people have? What makes you stand out? Your furniture? Your garden? Why can’t I have that here? The answer is, of course, that I can. Not only can I, but I will. I will. Right now I live in a humble studio apartment with the bare minimum of essentials. It’s not much, but it’s home. I don’t feel weighed down by stuff or held back by things. I am free.
I have a friend who is getting married in April. I’m a little sad to not be able to be there with her and for her on this very important and long awaited day. I know she understands, but on some level, I don’t. On the other hand, in no way do I expect her to come to Israel when I get married. She will meet my husband when he comes on the grand US tour. Maybe we can honeymoon somewhere “exotic” like Niagara Falls or Yellowstone. Wouldn’t that be funny? As long as we don’t go somewhere like the Bahamas or Central America…
The man I marry will be a good, loving man. With a beautiful smile and kind eyes. Everyone who meets his will enjoy knowing him and feel comfortable around us. He will be smart and strong and interesting and charming. He will be romantic and when we finally find each other, he will know he has been looking for me just as much as I have been looking for him. Above all else, he will be passionate about life and about building our life together. I know he’s out there. I know he’ll find me. I know he’s coming. And when he finally does, it will be magical. Nothing short of magical.
An ex-boyfriend of mine used to refer to us as “accident that became something perfect.” And, at the time, it was. I remember that night and that conversation perfectly. In my strange-shaped bedroom at college, my senior year. Basking in each others’ after glow. We had some good nights. And some great times. By we grew to become great friends and nothing more. Clinging to our history as lovers has strengthened our friendship but beyond that, it is a drop of water in an endless ocean.