Tonight I walked the city. I watched the sun set over the ocean and I tasted the breeze of the salty sea air. My feet are blistered and caked with sand. My thighs burn; my hips are stiff.
I purposely walked too far south. I turned east, then north. But these Tel Aviv streets are not the Manhattan grid I know so well. It’s not always so simple for me; this western sea has turned my internal compass upside-down and suddenly I am unable to trust my instincts. Even still, I can think of no better way to learn the ins and outs of a city. I sounded out signs, even if it took too long. I found my way home. Like always.
It’s strange to me that I can fall so easily and so wholly into a place. Not only do I feel in sync with the people, but with the city itself. I cannot seem to make anyone understand this time around. Being here was never a vacation for me. I never came here with any intent to tour or to take photographs or to buy a tshirt; I came here only to be. There is so little I do here that is different from the things I do at home. Still, I feel enveloped by this city.
I am by nature a moody person and halfway across the world it is no different. I sometimes sleep poorly, I feel sorry for myself, and I get annoyed with the people I love. I cry and I drink and I get short-tempered. Tel Aviv is not the cure to my inconsistent happiness. It is a small piece of the puzzle, but staying here has never been the cure. This doesn’t make it easier to go home. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.
In a few days I’ll slump off to the airport and return home to a timezone that makes my body feel all wrong. I’ll go back to pouring coffee; punching in breakfast orders I know like the back of my hand; and arguing with the cooks in a form of Spanglish particular only to our kitchen. I’ll make the kind of jokes with old farmers that make me wince and my spine tense in humiliation. The muscles in my city legs will slacken. My brown sugar skin will grow pale and my sun-golden hair will begin to dim.
This is what I am facing. But this forthcoming low is only that: a low. It is no defeat. Call it a hibernation…maybe another level of growth. And I am always growing, growing, growing. It’s okay. Massachusetts or not, I’ll find my way home. Like always.