Oh, Tel Aviv….the city that chews you up and spits you out with a few more tattoos, a darker tan line, and a drinking problem.
But don’t let that first sentence fool you, this is an ODE — a dedication to a city whom I love, hate, admire, question, curse, cry over and make-up with on a weekly basis.
I remember way back when I moved to Israel as a religious olah chadasha with stars in my eyes and a blue and white flag in my back pocket. In those times, Jerusalem was my comfort zone and Tel Aviv a place I would maybe visit once every three months for a quick beach session. It scared the shit out of me.
Yup, I was intimidated. By a city. Way more than I had ever been by a human. The people were too beautiful, the restaurants were too expensive, the motorbikes were too fast, and it smelt of marijuana EVERYWHERE.
But when I had to escape the claustrophobia of Jerusalem after a too-hard year, it was a shitty apartment, five stories high (and no elevator), smack-bang in the middle of Tel Aviv where I took solace. And solace it was. Those first few weeks stand out for me like an Instagram highlight you never delete- I would walk through the bar-riddled streets and just look around…the faces, the colors, the smells, it all fascinated me. It seemed everyone radiated this energy of self-love and confidence. Not to mention the persisting thought of how the hell do these people afford to go out every day and every night and look so good doing it!
Low and behold before I knew it…(and hold back your cringes while I get super mushy for a second) I became one with Tel Aviv. Instead of shrinking I learned to ride the waves…. Not the actual waves …which every surfer could tell you suck in this city, but the waves through the sea of a new and brilliant place.
I learned to love the colors, I learnt to cherish the smells (when I wasn’t gagging from them) I learned to pat every furry creature I walked past, stride through the beaches feeling like a million bucks, march through the streets during a Gay Pride parade and look around to the colorful rainbow of people celebrating tolerance.
I learned to feel comfortable sitting alone at cafes for hours writing, to take that risk getting the first tattoo I always wanted (okay and a second…and maybe a third). I dyed my hair blonde because my hairdresser told me he ‘had a vision’ and I took whiskey shots from the kiosk man next door every Friday on my way to meet yet another friend for drinks. Hell, the girl who was always scared of riding a bike even bought herself a longboard! But way more than that, I became happy and began to cherish me. Weird, wonderful me who won’t get one sideways glance in this city if she decides to go shopping with slippers and short shorts.
There’s a heartbeat to this place. A sort of electricity that buzzes through the electric-bike-swamped streets. And although the same electricity may electrocute you after a night of drinking, dancing and coming home six hundred shekel short and smelling like an ashtray, it will also light you up to try new things, reach new levels, and screw it, it I’ll say it- be an all-around cooler, happier human being.
So, here’s to the city some call a holiday destination, others a money-sucking-machine, and I call home.