Babe, I’m gonna leave.

This May. Or November. Or next May.

Pack all my stuff in one or two suitcases. Buy a cheap ticket to the States. Portland, probably. With those giant trees and the magical mist.

Or Berlin. Or London.

And leave here.

Never look back.

And finally find peace. And happiness. Or, at the very least, quiet. Because the one thing about being here, there’s never a quiet moment. Ever.

I’m resolved. Nothing you say or do will change my mind.

Determined this time. I mean it. I can’t take another minute of this. It’s madness. Any sane person would agree.

But then I find myself here on a Friday afternoon. In the dead of winter. And the infinite sky touching the infinite sea. The cool breeze. The distant echo of the muazzin from the mosque. The soft, smooth sand at my feet.

No matter how hard I try, I’ll never be able to leave. Ever.

Not when our spirits are so interwoven.

Man and the Infinite Sea

Man and the Infinite Sea

***

We’ve been on and off for most of my life. When I’m here I feel suffocated. Claustrophobic. Caged.

My head aches. Spins. Throbs.

When I’m away I can’t help but miss you. Long for you. Dream about you.

And when we fight I say the nastiest things about you.

Your hot temper. Your short fuse. Your pushiness.

Aggressive. Intrusive. Demanding.

Constant bickering. Fighting. Arguing. That’s no way to go through life.

And in the midst of that temper tantrum and petulant outburst I long for the quiet forests of Portland. Or the cleanliness of Berlin. Or the kindness of London (even though I’ve never been)

The serenity. The peace. The quiet.

The gluten free paradise where marijuana is legal. Or seasons. Four of them.

And nobody tells you what you should have done. And nobody calls you a freier for paying too much. Or getting too little in return.

Nobody wants to know how much you pay in rent or what your salary is before and after taxes.

Nothing.

And just as I turn my back on you, just as I’ve decided that I’ve had enough, you delicately, gently, softly, show yourself to me, only me, and reveal your ancient, pristine beauty.

I see it on that beach in Jaffa. I see it in that horizon. I see it on that sand.

Feb 6 - Rosh Haayin_Beach 117 Feb 6 - Rosh Haayin_Beach 112

Feb 6 - Rosh Haayin_Beach 118

And in those clouds, through those clouds you whisper that you love me. Always have. And that this is where I belong. This is where I should live and die.

This is where you’ll bury me when I’m too old to pack my bags and I’m too frail to dream of Portland. Or Berlin. Or London.

***

You’ve done this to me before. Half a dozen times.

Wait for me to get all worked up. Angry. Frustrated. Belligerent. Ready to leave.

Like that time when I was in the army. And alone. A lone soldier. And so desperately lonely.

And ready to leave the minute I completed my service. Ready to admit failure – yet again. A complicated relationship that had only one certainty – failure.

Yet I keep coming back here. Home.

And you sent her to me. It must have been you. Who else could it have been?

M.

And in her arms, two lovers, walking on the tayelet on a Friday night, I fell in love with you all over again.

And I was willing to forgive almost everything you had done to me. The yelling. The screaming. The heat. The poverty. The hopelessness. The desperation.

I know. I was selfish. I am selfish. I’ll never, ever leave you.

I’m sorry.

And we gave you a son. Our only child, who one day you will no doubt make demands upon. His best years. His prime. His innocence. And God Forbid, his life in your protection.

But I was grateful to you.

I am grateful to you.

Feb 6 - Rosh Haayin_Beach 104

***

But then there I was again. Hopeless. No home ownership in sight. No prospects for a decent future. No chance at ever making it out of this endless cycle of poverty.

And how many days left until the 10th? Too many.

Or: How can I afford that? (I ask that question a lot at the supermarket)

Or: We’ll wait until next month. (To fix the car’s brakes)

And there’s nothing waiting for me out there. In Portland. In Berlin. Or in London.

But as a famous Israeli singer once crooned,

“In London the people are kinder, which makes the despair a bit more comfortable.”

(Hava Alberstein, lyrics by Hanoch Levine)

And maybe that’s the case with Portland. And Berlin. And yes, even London.

So we’ve packed our bags. And made plans (which makes him or her laugh). To leave on a jet plane. To start new.

To make a home for ourselves. To make some kind of future.

But there you go again. Like a siren song. Ajami beach on a Friday afternoon. A brisk winter afternoon where the thick fluffy clouds look like giant’s fingers.

Like that painting by NC Wyeth.

Feb 6 - Rosh Haayin_Beach 115 Feb 6 - Rosh Haayin_Beach 133

And your timeless beauty tugs at my heart.

There’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be right now.

Forever.

Here with you.

Feb 6 - Rosh Haayin_Beach 109

***

But it may not be enough this time.

Your beauty is fading. (In my cynical eyes at least)

Your song no longer sends a shiver down my spine.

Your exotic smells no longer transport me back in time to those happy days of my youth.

You’ve dared me one too many times and this time, this time, we have to leave.

This May or November.

Or next May. Or November (because that’s when the tickets are cheapest)

And there’s nothing you can say or do that will change my mind this time.

There’s no turning back for me now.

My bags are packed.

But I’m not leaving angry. Or upset. Or disillusioned.

We’ll always have Ajami beach on a cloudy Friday afternoon in the dead of winter, my love. My eternal true love.

My Israel.

Feb 6 - Rosh Haayin_Beach 132