During the Winter of ’95 I spent 15 hours or so on a flight from here to Jerusalem. It wasn’t my first trip over nor was it my first time on a long flight. I was fortunate to have done both of those things before. One of the things that I remember most about that flight was that our seats all had personal in flight entertainment devices. It was a little screen in the seat back that showed four different movies. For some reason I can only remember two of them, one was Forest Gump and the other was one with Nick Nolte and Julia Roberts.
The movies played on a continuous loop so if you were so inclined you could watch them repeatedly. I made the mistake of watching Forest Gump so many times I got off the plane with an uncontrollable desire to punch Forest in the mouth. “Run Forest Run” had evolved from a line in a movie into something that would drive me into a rage where I was foaming at the mouth. And there you have the sad truth.
But I remember other things from that flight too. One of them was a conversation with another passenger about whether we considered our lives to be like the movies and if so, what genre would they be a part of. It was the sort of conversation that was probably more likely to have originated in late night study session at the dorm freshman year. However thanks to the magic of being trapped inside a flying tin can I was transported back in time to college. The thing is that while I remember the conversation I cannot tell you what sort of genre I picked. I know that it wasn’t the foreign film or indie drama. While I have been known to enjoy those it is not my style. I can also say that I wouldn’t have used horror, science-fiction or romance.
Chances are that I tried to be cute and used some sort of combination of action/drama/romantic comedy. It was a year after the Northridge earthquake and I wasn’t yet married or even engaged. The father I would become was five years down the road and Â in many ways not something that I could even picture. So there were no conversations about how many children I had or how old they were. No thought was given to anything so mundane as that. Technically I was going on a three week trip for work, but in my eyes it was really the trip that was going to set up my move from the states to Jerusalem.
It was a magical and mystical city to me. I was in love with the country and anxious to find out if it was a place to visit or where I needed to build my home. I was more than a little excited about being on that plane. It was the start of a new beginning, an adventure that was going to be something that would change my life. In between the desire to beat Forest Gump silly I had these bursts of energy where I felt like I no longer needed the plane to fly. Even though I was born and raised in Los Angeles, it had always felt like home to me, Jerusalem.
Walking through those streets I found parts and pieces of me that had been left there from past visits. It was where I felt whole. It wasn’t religious. It wasn’t cultural. It was all of that and none of that. And now I sit here in Los Angeles thinking back upon those moments, remembering the pain of leaving and the knowledge that I was leaving a piece of me behind again. I remember it all and I remember it well. I remember the lady from Texas who thanked me for letting her visit my country. I remember turning to my sister and telling her in a mix of Hebrew, English and eye rolls how silly I thought her comment was. I remember talking to a girl from Scotland about Los Angeles. I remember her laughing at my baseball cap, the one I wore backwards. I remember her asking me to speak because she liked my American accent. And I remember laughing and telling her that I wished that she would learn how to speak English.
We sat in a pub in Jerusalem, ten thousand miles from home. The table was silent as I held court and explained what an earthquake felt like. They looked at me in amazement and asked how we could deal with such things. I looked at them and explained that I hate the idea of waiting for a storm. I don’t do well with that sort of thing. I hate the anticipation and the worry that comes with wondering whether the storm will blow your house down. Earthquakes are easier for me. They come unannounced and unwelcome, but you don’t have to be unprepared. And if you are like me, you don’t have to worry about anxiety over the storm. The earthquake will come, oh yes, sooner or later it will. If you stick around long enough you might experience one that is exceptionally destructive. It is quite different to be in one than to see the after effects.
Still, I prefer that to waiting for the storm. It is my nature.
Now I wait for different reasons. Two pieces of my heart have been taken from me. Left in separate places I wonder when I will be granted the opportunity to recover them. Something tells me that action will be required to regain them. Something tells me that the time will come sooner than later. I wonder though if the earthquake will come before then or if I will be left waiting for the storm.