Israel: A Love Story

Shut away and able to look just beyond the walls of the balcony to the wadi and Tel Aviv/Jerusalem highway on the horizon, I didn’t comprehend how tepid, gray, stale as dishwater our lives had grown. 
    We slept until we awakened, prayed without quorums, stared blankly at Netflix and repeatedly began novels or memoirs that had been placed haphazardly on the shelves of the used-book kiosk on the corner of our street. For weeks at a time I could not locate my wallet, alarm clock or brassiere but none of it mattered. They weren’t necessary.
    A lot of the keeping-busy time was spent dreaming out loud. 
    As a life coach, I often assign clients to free-associate and create a “mind map” that ignites the imagination. I’ve mind-mapped again and again a desire for a cabin in the woods, an earthy safe zone where I can write, sing, socialize or not, live authentically. 
    While I had always harbored this secret, the year of lock down unleashed her from her chamber. My husband liked my dream.
    And suddenly it was over. Well, not exactly done with but now, double vaccinated and still masked, we were told it was almost safe to crawl out, hit the gym, munch a salad al fresco and join friends for a beer in the shuk.  
    Friends Judy and Don went to the avant garde Cinematheque to watch something autre and noir, rows and seats separated with security tape. My daughter and I purchased Mason jars and floor mats in IKEA, surprised when we no longer were required to sanitize our hands with alcogel or have temperatures recorded at the entrance. 
    I half-expected Rod Serling to appear in the distance, offering an overview.
    Sometime during a mad moment of quarantine,  the husband purchased a used Caravan. For when-it’s-over. For someday. For won’t-it-be-a-groovy-adventure.
    Suddenly tomorrow had arrived and, allowed out, we stared at one another and observed that we didn’t know where to go with our little house on wheels. We hopped into his car and drove north toward Tiberius to scout out RV camping sites. I hadn’t been on a serious drive in over a year and gripped the door handle in fear of swerving into oncoming traffic or being side-swiped by other lock down-escapees.
    We passed magnificent expanses of beaches and shoreline, lush mountains and forests, pink and cream-hued deserts, swaths of industry and flat farmlands. The faces became kinder, softer and I physically sensed an easing of my limbs.
    Carved into the rocky landscape were quaint villages and minarets. White shrouded greenhouses protected arugula, pineapples and tomatoes; my heart was filled with both awe and pride. 
    Massive Israeli flags dotted the fields, waving rhythmically in a warm Mediterranean breeze, daring anyone to suggest that every square and cultivated inch of this glorious land is not ours. We fell upon myriad dairy farms, befriending bovines, but no trailer park.  And wherever we found cows, we found craft stands. 
    By getting lost, I’ve stocked up on a lifetime supply of olive-oil soap, suspicious nut-butters, honey-infused candles and macrame plant holders. 
    Eventually we found our new home-away-from home. Located on the western shore of Lake Kinneret, it is a family-friendly site that closes the gates at 10 p.m. and doesn’t permit loud music. Our cordoned area is replete with water and electrical hook-ups, fire pit, wooden barbecue table and the music of lapping water throughout the night. 
    Nestled safely in my cabin in the woods, I’ll undoubtedly reflect on the majesty of Israel, the blessings of survival and conjure up gratitude, even when happy endings aren’t guaranteed.

New York native Andrea Simantov has lived in Jerusalem since 1995. She writes for several publications, appears regularly on Israel National Radio and owns an image consulting firm for women.


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