Wednesday, June 20, 2007

on returning home.

there is a blue ceramic vase on top of the smaller bookcase in my room. i made it during freshman orientation, at the free arts classes offered at the carnegie. it has traveled with me from school to home and back again, but has rarely been used for flowers. never at home, where there are other vases that are easier to wash. and school in pittsburgh was eons ago. there are no places to buy flowers in oakland.

in french hill, in the concrete plaza between the mister zol's food store and the bank, stand a few benches and a planted tree. on fridays they are joined by a french man in his 60s, wearing a wool golfing cap, a collared shirt and bow tie or vest, and jacket. he is surrounded by buckets of flowers. there are cheap carnations and roses (sure to lose petals that afternoon) for ten shekels. more colorful overflowing bouquets are marked at 25 or thirty shekels. the french man sells to everyone who walks by, overloaded with shabbat groceries or picking up challot from the neeman bakery. he tries speaking to me in french, then hebrew, then english. he waits while i fumble for a response in hebrew (refusing to speak in english and not knowing a word of french). he asks me about the week. seeing me hug and kiss a friend, he asks why i do not do the same for him. he tells me that my mother must have beautiful eyes, looking at mine. when i am away for a few shabbatot he asks me where i have been.

i buy my flowers, sometimes a bouquet or sometimes two different solids, pick up the weekend edition of the newspaper (both haaretz and the jerusalem post- heaven forbid i should miss an interesting story in one by only buying the other), and stumble back to the apartment before my arms become dislocated by the weight of the groceries. i trim the stems, de-leaf, and arrange in the kankan/vase i got from a small stand on a side street of the shuk, with the flower overflow delegated to a series of empty wine bottles.

my mother has a garden. she spends hours every weekend kneeling on her green garden pad, weeding and transferring and trimming. when she is done she calls me out to look at her work. in elementary school i used to bring my teachers flowers from my mother's garden, wrapping the stems in a wet paper towel and putting aluminum foil around that to keep the water in, before running off for the bus.

i do not know what i mean to say by all this. i made a vase once. it sits on a bookshelf, shrouded in the dust of disuse. there is a kind old french man who sold me flowers for shabbat. my mother has a garden, which we walk around to look at but do not often pick from.

i can write it all out. i can tell stories. i could probably make a picture book, but i am unable to write, to express, what is deepest felt.

my return has been easy. my parents take care of me, feed me, and give me yard work to do. everyone speaks english. the sign in the newark airport reads: "customer service is our top priority." people ask questions, commiserate, and talk about the sopranos. bathrooms have only one flush. white clouds dot the blue sky. the grass is shockingly green and requires a weekly mowing.

it has been too easy. it does not hurt enough. where are my tears, my disgust, my anguish, my yearning? it is as if life in america is too easy. too perfect? no, this is not it, nothing is perfect. i watched the news last night: america is not perfect. it is as if it is too simple to exist here.*

in israel things matter. really matter. the price of vegetables, the latest political move, the weather! every cloud, every clear blue day in israel is a miracle to be celebrated. the land. every inch of dirt (speck of dirt?) is treasured. shabbat. it all means more.

life means more.
and this is what i miss.

*for me, i mean. i do not generalize. i live in x, z has been my life, and y is how i feel.


Maxim said...

wow. yes. yeap.

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Até mais.

Rebecca said...

thanks maxim!

rodrigo, thanks for your comment, i guess i forget to mention but i also don't know portuguese, but this internet of ours was able to help me out a bit with that. i'm glad you liked the post!

kate, thanks for your silent nod of approval. ;)

Kathy said...

Don't worry about it being too easy, that will change when you are on your own. Appreciate the things you do have and help others.