Thursday, February 19, 2009

Visiting Israel: The Last Week

Too much has been going on in the last week, leaving almost no time to sit down and concentrate in writing; my laptop’s ailing keyboard isn’t helping either. In order to emit a space, I have to hit the space bar in just the right spot and in just the right power. Royal pain.

I’m beginning to write this post in Frankfurt airport. I just arrived here from Tel-Aviv, I’m sitting in a bistro waiting for breakfast to come. My train to Delft (an hour west of Amsterdam) departs in about 90 minutes. I’m excited that I’m going to meet Jeroen again – my friend whom I met during the Kill to Get Crimson tour and made my life so much easier.

The week started fairly easy. I decided to hit one of my favourite spots for some breakfast. The place is called “Tatti Cafe”, located in the intersection of Ha’Shalom Way & Yitzhak Rabin Way, in the city of Givatayim, just outside Tel-Aviv. I have been visiting this little gem of a place almost on a daily basis; serves great coffee, great breakfasts (try the Roquefort Salad – delicious), lunches and dinners. They also have a bakery on site, baking breads as tasty as those in Montreal for really attractive prices.

I made it almost a daily habit to start the day sitting in their patio, letting the sun sink some vitamin D into my skin while enjoying a really good breeze. Perfect weather for me, although some people gave me the weird look as if to ask what the hell am I doing out there “in the cold”. One woman went ahead and actually asked; I told her that, when I come from, this weather is considered “summer”.

Monday was home-food day. Dear mother prepared and seasoned all bunch of BBQ food, and we all had an awesome feast.

It is extremely important to note that “BBQ” in Israel means something completely different than what it means in North America. Gas BBQ’s are very rarely used (although my parents have recently acquired one) – we typically use burning coal; shish-kebobs are the primary weapon of choice, arming various types of meat on long skewers and cooking them slowly.

It was a good meal.

Shortly after, I got a call from an IDF-friend of mine telling me that we’re all going out for a drink in Tel-Aviv. So the five of us – Gosha, Kinneret, Itay, Oleg and myself – met at 10:00pm in a place called “Betty Ford”, in Nahalat-Binyamin street in Tel-Aviv. It’s a restaurant-bar kind of place, great place to chill out, close to nightclubs, restaurants… you name it. We had a few drinks and some appetizers and altogether had really great time. It’s always great to meet people you share positive past with, especially when it’s been long since you last met them.

For Tuesday, I made plans to meet with Ran and Karin in one of two burger joints I have yet to explore - “Dixie’s” and “Black’s”, both in Tel-Aviv. Turned out that Karin couldn’t come (had to watch the baby), so we agreed that Ran picks me up and we hit the road.

My uncle Dani and his son Aviv (the one I haven’t seen in 16 years… well, since he was born, pretty much) arrived shortly before, we shared a few laughs and had a great time. Aviv and I continued talking about computer programming topics, which made absolutely no sense to anybody else present in the living room. This young boy has great potential.

Ran has arrived and went upstairs to say hello to my parents. Ran and I go back 17 years, though my parents only rarely see him. This was the first time they see him since he had a baby boy; they all started preaching to me about the importance and urgency of procreating – was not fun at all.

We decided to hit “Dixie’s”. Ran is a veteran of burger joints in Tel-Aviv and, as such, claimed that Dixie’s burger is better than Moses’ Art-Burger which I had just a few nights prior. I somewhat refused to believe as I can’t understand how a burger can be any better than Moses’.

And so we went. It’s a beautiful restaurant, not too big yet spacious, with very interesting menu. I was determined to try the burger no matter what; we both ordered almost exactly the same dish – their 1/2 pound burger, topped with mushroom cream sauce.

At the meantime we continued to chat on pretty much every topic known to mankind, with some focus on business. Ran, again, claimed that I was flirting with the waitress. I couldn’t see how.

The burger has finally arrived and it didn’t take long until I sunk my teeth into it. Indeed, it was a very good burger – neither better than Moses’ nor worse – just plain different. Couldn’t really compare apples-to-apples here as the burgers are very different in their ingredients. Moses’ burger was blasting extraordinary in its taste and uniqueness (a blend of various types of meat), Dixie's’ burger was awesome in its taste (it’s made of beef only). The mushroom cream, I must say, made this dish delicious and really hard to get my teeth out of. Definitely worth re-visiting.

We spent a couple of hours there, maybe a bit more, chit-chatting about the universe and everything it contains; then we drove home. We bid each other farewell as it didn’t seem like we’re going to see each other again before I leave. It was quite sad.

I went upstairs only to find Dani and Aviv still there. We all shared thousands of laughs until late night – around 2:00am – when the two left home and I crashed into bed with endless desire to sleep.

Wednesday was the “good bye” day. This day is the saddest day in every trip I make to Israel, and I prepared accordingly.

Ran showed up at noon, insisting that we have a last Laffa together before I kiss Israel goodbye. We went to a place right next to my place and had a pita filled with good Israeli-style Schawarma. A short walk and we were in front of my house again, bidding each other farewell once more.

Next I began to organize my belongings. As I was going to have a short trip in Europe before going back to Canada, I decided to leave everything I brought in Israel and leave with just one backpack, containing only essential stuff. I figured that this will allow for ultimate freedom as I hop on and off multiple trains between Frankfurt and Amsterdam / Delft, as well as dramatically reduce airport-time as I don’t have to wait in check-in lines or claim baggage.

In the evening we went to my sister’s house, where I printed my train tickets and Delft maps (in case I miss Jeroen). I bid everybody goodbye – it was very hard to part ways with my three nephews, especially the oldest one (9 years old) who knows me enough to really miss me.

Went back home, when a far relative of mine, Carmi, came for a visit. I haven’t seen him in years; we used to be very good friends while we were kids, all the way up to high-school days.

As he left, I was going to go to bed to catch some sleep before having to wake up at 2:30am, when two other relatives came by. Haven’t seen them in years either; great laughs and gossips about everybody, and I went to sleep at about 11:00pm.

I had only 3.5 hours of sleep ahead of me. I knew I had to fall asleep pretty quickly if I want this sleep to be of any use, still I can’t stop thinking… it’s the last day for this trip. So much I have done, and so much still left to do.

On 2:20am sharp, my dad woke me up. Time to wrap things up and go to the airport. That didn’t take long; I had some time left for a short snack, as I hate airport food and hate airlines food even worse. Mom woke up and spent a few minutes with us. She decided to stay at home, so I bid her farewell, a good warm hug, “watch out for yourself”, “eat well” and other motherly commands… then my dad and I went out.

It’s a pretty short drive to the airport – about 15 minutes. I’m taking a final glance in this tiny poor neighbourhood, with the small buildings, small trees and small roads; more than ever before, I feel that I miss those streets of the neighbourhood I grew up in. It’s a poor place, small place – but it’s home. about 90% of my family lives in this tiny neighbourhood.

The sensation of distance and loneliness creeps in as we leave our neighbourhood onto highway 1, which takes us to the airport. We pass the airport security check (every car entering the airport area must clear some security check) and we arrived at the airport.

Carrying no luggage proved to be a great decision. I completely skipped all lines and within minutes I had my boarding pass, seated neatly in row 29 of the Airbus 343-300 – the bulkhead row (extended leg room).

My dad and I had an hour to kill so we went to sit near the coffee place by the security gates and talked for the entire hour. Then the time came to say goodbye. A hug and a kiss to the man I love most in the world, and I entered the passengers-only area.

Very hard to describe the feeling of loneliness you suddenly get in this situation. The last three weeks with my family were great, and as great they were – the harder it was to suddenly disconnect and be alone again.

I will be back.




Laurenzia said...

"Very hard to describe the feeling of loneliness you suddenly get in this situation. The last three weeks with my family were great, and as great they were – the harder it was to suddenly disconnect and be alone again."

I think you expressed it extremely well... disconnected is exactly how it feels. At that precise moment, though you know you have good times ahead, it takes real strength to keep going.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Laurenzia,
a friendly 'tap-tap' on your shoulder , daria.