Your Jerusalem is so similar to my Jerusalem. Your Jerusalem glows. Your Jerusalem torments and teases. Your Jerusalem sings. Your Jerusalem loves and hates and lives in a constant state of disorder and indecision.

You write about your Jerusalem and I feel connected to your experiences. I see how you touch her stones. I understand how she breaks your heart. I nod my head as you describe her beauty and profess your love to her.

Your Jerusalem is so similar to my Jerusalem.

Is my Jerusalem similar to yours?

I met my Jerusalem when I was 17 years old. I was bitter. I was angry. I was bleeding out of all my invisible wounds. I was desperate to find safety. I was desperate to find a home.

Jerusalem was foreign at first. She looked white and angelic. She was covered in stone that absorbed the light and reflected a brilliant yellow onto the cobblestone streets. She twisted and turned through hills and valleys. Her sky was everything the word blue evokes, and more. Her air was warm and her wind was cool. She was magnificent and towered over me and I wanted to run as far away as possible.

Then the sun went down.

The darkness brought the walking dead, creeping out from behind still-warm walls. They filled the streets and paraded down to Jerusalem’s wretched core. Their eyes were blank. Their bodies were shriveled and their throats were parched. I looked at them and saw myself and yearned for their freedom. They were already dead. I was still dying. I jumped into the crowd. I was swept out into the swarm. My pounding heart began to still.

And I met my Jerusalem.

My Jerusalem burns as it pours down my throat. My Jerusalem inhales deep as a wisp of smoke escapes. My Jerusalem wanders through alleys, down boulevards and into crowded squares. My Jerusalem leans against walls, crouches on stoops and passes out on benches. My Jerusalem screams out into the night and hears the echo returning back with barely enough time to register as it slams me against the wall and stares me in the eyes.

My Jerusalem exposes me. She rips my veins out from beneath my skin and spills my black, blinding rage over her chipped and battered floor. My Jerusalem wraps me tight and won’t let go, even as I struggle against her grip.

My Jerusalem is ravaged by explosive hatred. My Jerusalem washes up the blood soaked streets and waits for the sun to go down. My Jerusalem punishes fear and rips the world apart as she holds her ground.

My Jerusalem brought me back to life and then stabbed me in the heart and watched me fade away.

I left my Jerusalem, kicking and screaming, as my nails scraped against her womb. I left my Jerusalem and watched her embrace the next set of broken people. I left my Jerusalem and I wandered out into the world. I learned to love. I learned to live. I found myself hidden deep inside my broken shell. I left my Jerusalem, but I never forgot her.

I visit her again. I have changed. I am older and less hurt and also, more hurt.

I turn her corners, gagging as I pass her urine-soaked alleys turned into luxury hotels. The wind fights my exposed face, slapping my cheeks and whipping my hair; punishing me for daring to come back here. I inhale deeply, filling my nostrils with a minty cloud, and exhale my anxiety in one long stream of fire.

When I get to the end of the damp street, I stop and wait.

The noise is deafening. I cannot differentiate between cries of joy and cried of pain. It doesn’t matter. It is all the same to me.

The air is thick and suffocating. It smells like alcohol mixed with sickeningly sweet roses brewed in a broth of coffee and manure.

The sky is blue and the walls are white and I can see how much she has changed.

I close my eyes and breathe deep as a calm washes over my tortured soul.

My Jerusalem reaches out and strokes my cheek.

I am home.

Your Jerusalem sings and dances and plays, yet she torments you and strings you along.

My Jerusalem kicks me out and pulls me back and twists me up inside.

Your Jerusalem is so similar to my Jerusalem.

Is my Jerusalem similar to yours?