A thousand years ago I wandered through the streets of London knowing it wouldn’t take any effort to leave everything behind and start a new life there.
Did the normal tourist stuff, saw the things I had to see and wandered back to our host’s home and stood inside a shower built for a man that was smaller than I was in every way.
When it came time to wash my back or my front I had to do a funny sort of twist and turn type dance step that might have looked good in a square dancing contest but in reality had to look as awkward as it felt.
Sat at a dining room table looking out at Â real English garden and wondered where life was going to take me. Two years of marriage, no kids and a job I could take or leave made it easy for my natural wanderlust to run free.
Made it easy to think there might not be a better time to shake things up and live a different life. My plans had already changed significantly. I had decided not to move to Israel before and gotten married thinking we would go later.
Yet in the midst of thinking about a life in London I heard Jerusalem calling out to me. It was three years since I had last been there and I missed it.
But it was part of the current trip, the stop in London had broken what would have been a 15 hour flight into a shorter trip and provided an opportunity to experience part of England, something I had never done before.
London was great but when we left four days later I was crawling out of my skin, desperate to get back to Israel because the hole inside me recognized how close it was to being filled again.
When the flight landed at Ben Gurion and we got off of the plane I felt like the piece of my heart that had been torn out was repaired and the joints that had been out of place slid back to where they were supposed to be.
I knew I was in one of my homes. Didn’t know if it would turn into a place I lived in for a week, a decade or a generation but I knew it would be ok because I would live a lifetime during the moments I had there.
It was how it was and how it always went.
Showed my wife around the city and the country. Took her places that meant something to me and did my best to explain what you can’t understand unless you have lived it.
One night in Jerusalem I walked around the city by myself. Wandered through the ancient and the new and listened to the voices inside and out and heard things that have stayed with me to this day.
If I told you some of those things were messages that make sense now but did not then you might think I am crazy or maybe you’d wonder if I was lucky. Maybe you wouldn’t think anything about it at all.
When it came time to leave I thought again about not getting on the plane. I thought about calling home and telling them I didn’t need to come home because I was and that some day I would visit again.
Thought about how many people I had unexpectedly run into around Israel. Friends from high school and college in Tel Aviv, in Haifa and Jerusalem.
Wasn’t truly surprised to see any of them because there is a magnet there that pulls us in, a spiritual or cultural tractor beam.
And yet when the plane took off I sat in my seat and remained silent as that piece of me was ripped out of my body again. Tried not to scream because I felt like I was hurting myself unnecessarily and stayed still.
Somewhere during the flight I made the same promise to myself to return that I always made when I left. Back in LA I hugged my parents, grandparents and siblings hello and tried to make myself accept that I had made the right decision, that I had done the right thing.
You Know That Ghost Is Me
Gordon Lightfoot is singing If You Could Read My Mind and I lost in lyrics that are hauntingly familiar. I hear a section and something inside my head clicks:
In a castle dark or a fortress strong.
With chains upon my feet.
But stories always end,
I am not the Edmund Fitzgerald and you won’t find me at the bottom of Lake Erie but you’ll find parts and pieces of the man I once was and the guy I am becoming floating around here and there.
Somewhere on the streets of Texas the boy who walked through Jerusalem in the ’80s came to life again. The parts and pieces that had lain sleeping inside had woken up each time he had been back to Israel in the 90s.
Every time he had come back to America he had pushed them down and forced them to slumber because they wouldn’t let him live as he was but under that Texas sky they broke free of the chains and swore to never be fettered again.
So make the best of this test, and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time” Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) Green Day
If I told you I am walking down a lonely road you might wonder if I was being melodramatic or serious. If you asked for an explanation I’d tell that what I heard in Jerusalem is playing out now and I am doing what I have to do.
I’d tell you for the moment I am walking by myself because no one else can do it for me. There are no substitutes or pinch hitters for what has to be done. You can’t go where I need to go or do what I need to do.
This one is all me and I can tell I have got this.
The tears that do not fall won’t stain my cheek this time either because they won’t help me get through it any faster. But I got this. I have moved heaven and earth before and I will do what is required again.
I am a Taurus.
But I won’t lie and say I am not a little scared nor will I say I am not excited. I am both.
Life is filled with contradictions.