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“We only lose only what we cling to.” – author unknown

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All scars are art, so my arms are then art history partly because my mother gave me my skin.

I hear myself saying, “Wear your skin with pride, even if you feel naked.”

Somewhere between thinking of romantic love and body shame, I walked past police barricades standing guard around my daughter’s Jewish school, only making me aware that we are targets.

“Even if the worst happens”, I try to reassure myself as I stare at the machine guns of the guards at the corner of school, “we will still be able to laugh after because even if You hate us, we can love ourselves.”

As a wise wo/man wrote: We only lose what we cling to.

We can lose people, we can lose life, we can lose everything but not love. There is infinite love and all rejection is an illusion and all hate, rightly or wrongly, an inversion of our love.

Love is racing through me at so many moments in the day…for some it’s driving in a fast car down the coast with music blaring, flying to earth from a plane like a bird, dancing while a little tipsy, charming a member of the same or opposite sex, doing something noble and courageous, fulfilling a duty, winning a challenge, falling in love, seeing a happy moment for a loved one on a holy day and a holiday. They might not notice but their chests are racing with love.

 

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Life is imperfect and impermanent and it remains one of the most difficult things for me to comprehend.

As a kid my parents taught me to not respect material things, to be ready to pick up and move on at the drop of a hat and to be unattached to people and objects. Childhood friends? I had one, for a few months and even if I don’t know her last name or where I would ever find her again, Esther, is the best friend I ever had and the longest friend I ever got to know. I have one photo of us together and it’s my prized possession from childhood.  My mother burned the rest and I still remember suitcases filled with photos that I frantically pillaged through, rescuing as many as I could before they were destroyed.

The irony is that I now try to keep and save and preserve all that I can, be it people or memories or letters. I am sentimental for history, symbolism and objects, but probably most of all, I am sentimental for the connections I clumsily forge with people who I let (or struggle to let) into my soul.

No matter how brutal my mother was with her views, she wasn’t wrong. She was brutal because life was brutal, but she was right.

Life is imperfect and impermanent and it remains one of the most difficult things for me to comprehend. Even if we try with promises and titles and great and noble efforts, trying to hold people or a moment is like trying to hold water in ones hands.

Although we cannot hold on to anyone, sometimes who and what we love holds onto to us.

Even a memory travels as it wants in and out of consciousness anywhere in my body. It’s on vacation and returns to stick in my throat or wash out my eyes at the most inconvenient of times. Once you think it’s gone for good, a sound, a regret, a pleasure, a dream brings you back, right back in bed in Casablanca or sitting on a rooftop overlooking the city. It’s unresolved. It’s guilty and messy and dirty and beautiful and gone until it returns again without an invitation.

What do I do about that? Nothing, except accept that I don’t know what to do about that, even after all these years.

I hope I have learned somethings in the last 10 years in the lonely corners of Casablanca filled with silences and not the excitement of New York. With fire in my belly still, I say to my older and slightly wiser self, “You cannot hold on or keep or preserve or try to…this isn’t yours to keep.”

Although I won’t burn my photos or send the majority of journals to the trash bins, because although they mean the world to me, but they also weigh me down even if they were made to preserve me…the truth is that they can’t be kept forever and I am not that girl anymore who wrote them. I am more than these things that I have collected. I am even more than what has collected me.

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Paris: The City of Love?

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Paris is cold and wet and as I took the Metro yesterday and walked past thousands of people, I wished I could meet and speak with everyone of them. Perhaps this is why big cities are not for me and why Tel Aviv remains a beloved place as the BIG LITTLE city where you can meet and run into the same people if you want and storefront owners recognize you after a few days and tell you things like, “I wanted to tell you that you are the most original girl I have seen.” To which I smile and blush and walk away happy for that moment of connection from nowhere and just because. I miss Tel Aviv especially as I pass people in other big cities and their existence goes by without mention as each person speeds past me.

Last night after a long day filming we walked on Ternes near the Arch and passed a bar full of folks trying to find their life partner at a pub.  They had removed the chairs and everyone stood outside behind the cafe’s rope line and were drinking and chatting it up in the freezing cold. As we passed I turned my head transfixed on this big-city style dating circuit and cringed. “I will never meet my future partner at a bar.” I tell my friend with a tinge of arrogance but in truth I don’t mind what anyone does to find love. They are locals of the area and as it was recently reported we don’t marry and partner much for the qualities of the person then for their proximity in location to us (so choose well where you live).  What made me stare at the crowd of locals standing in the cold street was their desperation for contact with other people to befriend, perhaps sleep with, date and/or marry.

Paris is big but functions on a technical level as if it’s still small (shutting the Metro service down at night, shutting down on Sunday and at exactly the same early hour on Saturday) not giving you the few benefits of a big city. It’s not that I don’t like Paris but I know this city is not a place I could live in for longer than a week despite the widely held idea that Paris is a romantic paradise. I don’t see romance in the rushing around chasing after enough money to survive the cost of living.

What do I like about Paris? Besides the old buildings which I stare at for hours. I like the immigrant populations that bring a different culture of life to the city. I love all my memories…of Parisian gay bars and discos, art schools and meetings with professors and photographers. My all time favorite moment of Paris though was the anti-climatic-romantic experience of being booted from a lovers bedroom after a disagreement, which was also his entire apartment but in Paris having two rooms is valued at the price of an entire house elsewhere.

My most romantic evening ever in Paris was the day I was kicked out of an exes’ apartment.

I remember that week well. I had fought with my ex and left his home in search of ice cream. He called me. He waited. He scolded me. We fought some more and we made up. The next night we fought again. This time the fight elevated and he said I was racist because I disagreed with him over a religious tenet.

“I love and live with the same people you say you are defending,” I said. “You live here and couldn’t take even a month living in the society I am critiquing.”

We were two adults acting like immature children. He chanted over me so and I took a cheap shot at him that was completely unrelated to the argument on hand. We slept in separate beds and in the morning he was awake before me, which is always a bad sign. He told me he never wanted to see me again but wrote me 10 minutes later to tell me he was looking for his house keys because he was still shaken up by a break in a week before.

With plenty of arrogance, I replied that thankfully all his possessions seemed to have survived the break in with his computers and furniture all in tact, thank goodness and that if this was an attempt to keep in contact than bravo it worked. Pride and arrogance makes one feel invincible and then rather small afterwards especially as it makes the other by default invisible. I was guilty of this in spades.

In the cold I stood with my little bag next to the local cybercafe waiting for another friend to pick me up. Ten minutes later, my ride arrived and he gave me a hug and never asked what happened. He could have asked, “Who were you with?” but he didn’t. He took me somewhere warm fed me and knew just how to make me cringe and laugh.

“You should never have broken up with me,” he said. I made my usual eye rolling but we both knew he wasn’t there to get me back. He just, for whatever reason, loved me no matter what crap I got into or who I loved or how confused I was.

He dropped me off at work asking if I had a place for sure to stay that night, if I needed anything, if I was fed and warm and okay.  I assured him it was okay, I hurried to get back to work and I didn’t realize it at the time how that encounter was by far the the most romantic moment in Paris and it wasn’t a cliche.

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Childhood, Courage, dating, grief, Joy, living abroad, Mental Health, Musings

Love Addiction-Love Avoidants Part 2

“I am feeling lonely.” He said.

“Is it hard for you to be alone?” I ask.

“Yeah.” He says.

“It’s okay to be lonely. I am alone with no family near, few true friends…but its only a moment in my otherwise noisy people filled life. I have to be alone right now to come to terms with myself. That’s one of the big emotional reasons why I have been in Morocco. I am lonely every freaking day but it’s good for me.”

“Sorry for being honest ;/” He said.

“Don’t be sorry.” I said. “I think it’s harder to be in touch with ourselves sometimes in the noise of our careers and the fast pace lifestyle of the city. We like the city because the white noise blurs out the pain of disliking our own company. To be alone is painful.”

“My new girl came back from abroad.” He said.  “I don’t know what we are doing. I don’t know what I want to do about her.”

“Can I ask you something?” I asked.

“Sure.” He said politely.

“You are talking about this girl you are dating but didn’t you just break up with your ex. You seem to have been in love with her. Why did you break up?” I asked.

“She wanted marriage and kids. So I broke up with her.” He said.

“I didn’t get a phone line for 6 years because I had to sign a contract. I have a fear of commitment.” I said. “But isn’t that normally where it goes when you love someone?”

“I don’t want to get married.” He said. “My friends say Tel Aviv really fucked me up. They are all getting married. I don’t want to be told what to do and who I can see. I want to have total freedom. My childhood friend is getting married and she’s not able to sleep at my place anymore because her fiance is jealous.” He said in an annoyed voice.

“Why aren’t you happy for her?” I asked. “It’s not like she is in prison.”

“Yes she is.Why can’t it be the same as it was?” He said defensively like a little kid that didn’t want to grow up.

“She isn’t sleeping in your bed not because she doesn’t love you but she expects her man to do the same for her out of love and respect.” I assumed this was the case.

He was silent so I tried to explain.

“It’s a bit like growing up.” I said.  “She’s happy to do it for him. Things don’t stay the same forever. Give her your blessing and encourage her to go with all her heart into her new life.”

There was more silence.

I didn’t know where he went inside himself.

He struck me as a delicate soul. A walking piece of art. A beauty.  To see him just eating hummus in front of me was such a joy. I didn’t want to trigger him or hurt him. I felt that kind of “normalcy” of marriage with a woman seemed out of reach for him and the change to adult rules and expectations so unnerving for him. Although we had little in common in every sense, I understood what it felt like to not fit into “normal” and to feel like marriage and normative institutions can’t include and won’t contain you.

I finally chimed in to break the silence. “Hey maybe marriage isn’t for you. Maybe women aren’t for you. Everyone has their own time.”

“You think I a gay?” He asked as if he had gotten it said to him so many times.

“I don’t know only you do but how long are you normally alone after a break up?” I asked.

“I don’t want to say.” He said.

“Why?” I ask.

“Because I know where you are going with this.” He said.

You can’t force someone to hear what they already know but aren’t courageous enough yet to do anything about. He knew what I was going to say.

“It’s not the women that matter, they can be a revolving door of anything, but the space needs filling. Who– is less important. You “Look” for love but seek it out only with unhealthy people to be sure it can’t work. If you bond and start to love them, you leave first.”

Healthy is probably too quiet and sweet to recognize after awhile.

So when my Israeli therapist asked what I was doing in my life.

“I am trying to be alone.” I said.

She smiled asking why.

I remembered him and remembered myself. We circle our tails in love. We want and we don’t want. We are afraid and too bold. We make no sense.

I tried to explain, “A lover that I respect shares my pursuits and loves me would be amazing but I am not going to force it. Maybe it never will be a reality for me and that’s okay too. But I am not there yet. I see people as symbols, I judge, I fight, I am chasing my tail. I just want to be as alone as I can possibly be and this isn’t easy for me.”

“You are a very smart girl.” She said it like a mother would. I smiled like a baby.

 

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In Tel Aviv with my girl turning the world over, talking over some wine about love, g-d, childhood pain, signing up to odd sites, depression, lesbian bars, hope, beauty, Moroccan parents, dancing, international ratings of dick size by country, this song, Mizrahi politics…laughing all the way through all the stories. She is my soul sister even though our experiences existed worlds away from each other, we share so many feelings and beliefs. We find ourselves in each others brokenness and strength.