On the day I left America to become a new immigrant in Israel at age 79, I asked a group of State Troopers at JFK airport to memorialize my decision. Here is the photograph, with their faces masked to protect their identity:
It took me three months, though, to find an appropriate apartment in Tel Aviv. The first place I looked at was on a small street named Daphne. I sat on a bench outside the apartment and waited for the landlord to arrive. He said he owned a small meat cafeteria in the area. Flies began to kiss me from head to toe but finally he showed up and began to sing an old Israeli song as he took me upstairs. I joined in. We were like two drunks in a bar. But then I began to sing a song he didn’t know; it predated his arrival from Morocco in 1968 as a boy of three, the song about two soldiers, one a sergeant and the other a private, and a bullet knocks one of them down.
Before walking through the rooms of the apartment, he decided to arrange a match between me and a woman he knew. As he spoke with her on the telephone, he whispered to me she was a smoker. I whispered I was not interested in a smoker. She overheard our whispers and said she would consider giving up smoking. But he hung up and said, “I wouldn’t kiss a woman who smoked!” And then he demonstrated the long smacking kiss that he gives his tiny wife.
I said, “After a kiss like that, everything follows.”
“Yes, it all follows,” he said.
As we toured the apartment from room to room, I found a dead cockroach belly up on the kitchen floor. “I exterminated him,” he said and added, “There are two more over there,” pointing to the cabinet in the salon. Even with my poor vision I could see both of the fat roaches.
I decided not to take the apartment.