Sarah Tuttle-Singer
A Mermaid in Jerusalem

When all this is over, here’s where I’ll go:

To everything there is a season, and when this season passes, I have big plans. I will walk through the Shuk early in the morning.

I’ll smell the fresh bread, the yeast and sugar and a touch of cinnamon.

The sellers will be opening up, the teas and spices and nuts piled high in wooden barrels and candies all pretty in their bins on the long wooden tables.

At first it will still be quiet and I’ll hear the scrape of the fish being laid on ice, their scales shining like piles of silver, then the hiss of the kettles as the sellers make tea, and the rustle of the newspapers where the most important story is about the weather.

I’ll stand there by the stall where they sell the beans and the barley, and I’ll want to run my hand through the yellow lentils — to feel them smooth and cool against my fingers… but I won’t.

We have learned not to.

Instead, I’ll just stare at them for the longest time, all pretty and yellow in the barrel and pretend I can feel them.

My hands will ache to touch them but I won’t.

Instead, I’ll smell the mint, still wet from the morning dew, and the parsley and the cilantro, there, in this cool green pocket of the Shuk that always smells like a spring rain.

I’ll smell the tea – sage and jasmine, apple, cardamom and mint… the scent of tree bark and orange blossoms and rolling green meadows full of tiny white flowers with pretty yellow faces.

The pomegranates split down the middle will shine like rubies. The clementines like gold. The eggplants are a deep, regal purple, their skins taught and perfect, and the cucumbers and tomatoes and beets and potatoes and onions are stacked up in their rows like so.

As the Shuk comes to life, I’ll drink coffee at Roasters, and watch all the people pass with their baskets and their bags… their carrots and their fish and their bourekas and loaves or bread, and hunks of halva with pistachio and sweet baklava dripping with honey.

We’ve been through famine before, and we’ve been through drought — through long nights of empty bellies and fitful sleep … we’ve been through rockets and through wars, and even though we have the things we need on the shelf and we are safe inside and we will not starve from lack or food, our arms crave to hold another person, our hands ache to touch all the things around us. Our ears strain for human voices next to us, and our eyes crave color and movement beyond our screens.

I’ll just sit there with my coffee, dark and earthy and let the sounds wash over me in waves – the voices of the sellers, the chatting and the haggling, the babies crying, the parents soothing, the young guys singing with the radio, the girls giggling, the pushing and the shoving and that shift as life eases back into the old rhythms with a boisterous relief that we are all together again in the middle of this place with the gentle yield of the earth before us, in this new and wondrous season, heaven here on earth.

And I’ll stay a while, and maybe later I’ll have a beer at Beer Bazaar – I’ll order the tray with all the flavors, the bitter and the sweet:

That’s where I’ll go, and that’s what I’ll do, and it’ll all be more beautiful than any place on earth because we are here again together…

… and we survived.


What about you? Where will you go?

About the Author
Sarah Tuttle-Singer is the author of Jerusalem Drawn and Quartered and the New Media Editor at Times of Israel. She was raised in Venice Beach, California on Yiddish lullabies and Civil Rights anthems, and she now lives in Jerusalem with her 3 kids where she climbs roofs, explores cisterns, opens secret doors, talks to strangers, and writes stories about people — especially taxi drivers. Sarah also speaks before audiences left, right, and center through the Jewish Speakers Bureau, asking them to wrestle with important questions while celebrating their willingness to do so. She loves whisky and tacos and chocolate chip cookies and old maps and foreign coins and discovering new ideas from different perspectives. Sarah is a work in progress.