Here’s the thing. I miss you. I really do. And that may come as a surprise to you. Particularly since I sold you on eBay. For like 10 bucks. Hell I got more for that sleeveless Dri-Fit tennis shirt. Because Nadal had worn something similar years ago. But you were special. A lime green button down shirt. Short sleeves. A pocket on the front. White stripes. And some kick ass design on the back. And I loved you more than anything. I really did. And more importantly I learned so many valuable lessons while wearing you.
Here’s me and my brother (the alleged spy) at my 30th birthday party. Look at the two of us. I’m not talking about my older and more successful sibling. I’m talking about you and me. Look how thin I was. How young. Full of hope. Full of passion. Ready to conquer the world. And here’s the secret to my smile. M. I had just met her two months prior and she had already taught me a very valuable life lesson.
I was making her a salad. A chopped Arabic salad they call it here. With diced cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. And olive oil. And salt and pepper. And lemon of course. And I squeezed a whole lemon on that salad and she took me by the hand gently and kissed me.
“Whoever squeezes that much lemon in a salad must be in love.”
Here’s me and her at my nephew’s circumcision (brit). No, I’m not talking about M.’s younger sister sitting next to me. I’m talking about me and my favorite lime green shirt in the world. And you could tell by the toothpick in my mouth that I had gone completely native by this point. M. and I had been dating for a few months and I had learned my second valuable life lesson. She had moved in to my small Bauhaus on the Northern end of Dizengoff Street and when she opened my fridge she remarked:
“An empty fridge means that a person has no love in his life”.
So we filled the fridge with food. And in a way they were right. Our lives were enchanted. We were overflowing with love and our fridge was always full.
Here we are doing a crossword puzzle at M. grandmother’s house. And M. and I had just got married. And we were spending a lazy Friday afternoon at her grandmother’s house. And she’s mad at me for one reason or another. And I had learned to nod my head. And confess to whatever crime I had committed. But I couldn’t care less because I had you on. And you were light and breezy. A perfect summer shirt. And M.’s grandmother hands me a plastic container full of homemade cookies, my favorite kind, and smiles.
“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”
“You know who”.
And you, my lime green Guess button down shirt, were getting tighter and tighter with each day that passed. And it worried me. Because I loved you. I loved the way you fit. The way you made me feel about myself. But more than anything I loved what you symbolized. The infinite possibilities of life. The infinite roads that could still be taken.
Here we are at a wedding. The bride was M.’s best friend from high school. The groom was the son of M.’s co-worker. And M. set them up on a first date. And they hit it off. And they fell in love. And a year and a half later we found ourselves the guests of honor at their wedding.
And there we were. M. pregnant. And I wore you to the wedding because you were the dressiest shirt I owned. And in Israel that shirt was almost overdressing for a wedding. And she leaned in as we watched them exchange vows and taught me another valuable life lesson.
“Heaven is guaranteed to anyone who makes three shiduchim (matches that lead to a wedding). One down and two to go.”
“They do.” But who the fuck are they.
My final lesson came several months later. After D. was born. And after I had outgrown you. But I persisted in wearing you. Even though you made me feel flabby. And you pressed up against my moobs. And my love handles.
And the last time I wore you was to the office. And I was working on the subtitles of a film about donkeys. That’s right. Donkeys. An elderly couple had made this film. She was an Art History Professor at Tel Aviv University. He was one of Israel’s premiere documentary filmmakers. An artist. A photographer who had exhibited throughout the world.
And I sat with them for hours. And the two of them argued about every subtitle. Every frame. And as uncomfortable as it made me feel, like when your parents have an argument right in front of you, I loved the two of them. I don’t know why. I was newly married with a kid on the way. This is what I hoped my future would like.
And as they were about to leave he took out his Nikon camera and snapped a picture of you and me.
“I love to walk around and take pictures of people. You know. At Dizengoff center. Or on the street. There’s something about people’s eyes. They’re like a portal into the soul.”
Two weeks before he died he came to visit me in the office. And he held a picture of us in a white envelope. And he handed it to me. And smiled.
And I’ve spent the last week or so looking for that picture. Because M. and I are moving out of our apartment and we’re cleaning out the closets. And I keep hoping to find that picture of us. The last picture of us.
The missing picture of us.
And I hope that the person who spent 10 bucks on an old stained shirt on eBay appreciates what an amazing shirt you are.
And how much I miss our time together.