Israelis hate waiting. Yaala, yaala, we’re ready to move on since yesterday. Remember the wildebeest scene in the Lion King? That’s basically how we wait in line in Israel.
Except when it’s serious. Like when we’re all crammed in together at the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem, all of us, tired and sweaty on this sullen August night: Suddenly, we learn the gentle art of patience, of pause: From the ultra-orthodox family with the 10 kids, to the two teenage girls with their glitter lipgloss, and matching belly button rings, to the man in the kifeyeh and the woman in hijab, to the old Russian couple holding hands, to the children — oh, so many children in this young country.
We wait. We watch the faces of the soldiers, knowing that this is probably nothing, but knowing it might not be, too.
We’ve lived through too many of these – sure, mostly it’s nothing, but sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes, there’s no warning, no “suspicious package” left by the escalator, sometimes, a man walks into a restaurant in a heavy coat in the middle of July and detonates. Or sometimes, a woman lures a teenage boy away at night only to watch him get shot at close range more than 15 times. Or sometimes, a tractor comes barreling down on you.
Statistics say that everyone in Israel knows at least one person killed in a terrorist attack.
I wonder how many people around me are thinking of the people they knew, the people gone that appear suddenly in moments like these, when it could be us, too. I’m thinking of Rafi, that smile that cuts through me when I remember him, when I think that I’m older than he will ever be, even though I’ll always think of him as that much older brother.
Israeli’s hate waiting. We grumble, we pace, we are a perpetual-motion people — probably from all those centuries when we had to be moving moving always moving… but we waited tonight at the Central Bus Station knowing we may be waiting for lives, until the soldiers said “yaala, yaala you can move again.”