First day of school today. It was really good to be back; I’ve been getting bored recently and was ready for the classroom again. They let me skip another Hebrew level–so I am now officially in level gimel. I’m going to try it for a week, and if I can’t hack it, I’m supposed to go back to bet. We shall see. The future tense I basically taught myself already, but I’m over two hundred words shy of gimel-level vocabulary. I’m not making any promises.
Today, in the midst of my first gimel Hebrew class, a man came to the door of the classroom and said that everyone had to evacuate the building, as a suspicious package had been found inside. Sure enough, all the international students were making their way outside, and there were police cars lined up in front of the school. After a few minutes, men from the army dressed in green storm trooper get-up, complete with helmets, could be seen making their way inside. After that, there were four explosions, one after the other. I was told that they shot the bag, but as I’ve never actually heard a gun go off that I’m aware of, I can’t be sure what they did. But my building is still standing, so I assume that it didn’t blow up, and soon we were all back in class.
Later on in the day, I was heading to the library to work on this paper, the current bane of my existance, and the whole other half of the campus was closed off for security. I had to exit from the back of the campus and walk all the way around it just to get home, let alone to the library, which was completely shut down anyway. Just another normal old day.
The weather is still perfect here–blue skies for miles and miles. Yesterday I had to study, but I couldn’t bear to stay inside another day, so Helen and I went to the British War Cemetery, where we sat and studied until the heat forced us back inside. An aside: always strange to go to a war cemetery. This one is for the British soldiers who died in Palestine in the first World War. Private so-and-so, aged twenty-five, sergeant so-and-so, aged nineteen. They were all so young. Just a bit heavy.
So I’ve developed into a routine: study by day, party by night. Thursday night I went to a party with Tammy, thrown by one of her friends who is leaving soon to study abroad. So I practiced Hebrew, interspersed with bits of English with the inevitable German or two. The hostess, Nino, another artist from Bezalel, had her work all over the walls, and she is extremely talented. She recently had an exhibition at the Bible Lands Museum here in Jerusalem. Every one of Tammy’s friends has this amazing talent. It’s a bit inspiring, I must say.
Last night, Shabbat dinner at Luise’s. Bernt cooked, and it was delicious. We ate out on their terrace overlooking the street. All very romantic, lovely. I met a few more people, another German and their Israeli neighbor. We went out, to the d1, of course, and I was back home by 1:30. Perhaps I am reining it in a bit?
As for tonight, Ksenia and Helen are cooking for me. All these dinners! I’ll come home fat…
The last few days have been absolutely beautiful. Sixty-five degrees, sunny, absolutely lovely. Unfortunately I have been stuck inside most of the time finishing up my paper and studying. But I have managed to get out every once in a while and enjoy how wonderful it is. I feel so full–life is good, if not easy. I know I am where I am supposed to be, even if so many of my questions have yet to be answered.
It’s almost six o’clock here, and I’m getting ready to cook dinner for Ksenia and Helen–and hopefully my roomate, who I expected home by now. I have been inside studying all day, so I only just now heard about the bus bombing that occurred this morning at eight thirty. It’s odd, I found out the same way I always found out at home–the Internet. Only this time I am here, in Jerusalem, a few miles from where this tragedy took place, yet I feel just as separate and insulated as I did back home. This is a good thing, I guess. Maybe. I don’t know actually.
There were mostly schoolkids on the bus, teenagers, ten or eleven of them from the same school. One of them is confirmed dead, and the status of the others seems to be still unknown. The official body count is seven, with sixty wounded.
Apparently this has something to do with the delegation in the Hague, scheduled to start tomorrow, regarding the security fence. I must admit, I don’t see the logic here–don’t more bombings just add to Israel’s case?
I slept until two o’clock in the afternoon today. I must still be jetlagged, because I can’t seem to fall asleep until seven or eight in the morning. I’m all out of whack. But it’s okay for now–I still have a week until school starts.
Yesterday I went to the Mahane Yehuda Market in West Jerusalem. I can’t believe I’d never been there before. Easily as colorful as the shuk in the Old City, and bigger and more accessible. I bought two overflowing, heavy shopping bags full of fruits and vegetables for a whopping fifty shekels (about ten dollars). I am set for the week.
That night I went to Luise’s for dinner with Luise, Gosia, Bernt, and Felix, after which we headed to the d1, the dive of choice, where the DJ was playing gypsy and Arab music all night. We stayed for a while and danced till we were good and sweaty, then headed off to find a highly hidden, highly underground rave somewhere in the city center. Raves are illegal in Israel, so it was all very hush-hush, with a phone number, and a few detailed directions in Hebrew. Eventually we ended up in this alley, at the end of which was a huge abandoned building. We had to climb up a makeshift iron ladder to get in, as several stairs were missing. Inside we followed a few well-placed candles down, down, and down into the bowels of the parking garage, where we were greeted by strobe lights, smoke, and loud music of a techno-trance variety. There were people everywhere, though you couldn’t always see them through the smoky, colored light haze. So we danced a while, looked everywhere for Luise, who had disappeared for a bit, and then decided to go get some food.
I went with Shadi and Fadi, two Palestinian brothers who I find absolutely charming, to a 24 hour bakery in East Jerusalem. They helped me practice my Arabic, although they laughed at me quite a bit, and we stood outside the bakery eating bagels dipped in sour cream and za’atar on the hood of the car. It was a lovely time.
But now it’s time to study.
It’s so good to be back in Jerusalem. I miss my family already, but I didn’t realize how much I would miss Israel. And I missed several events as well. An earthquake that knocked everything off the shelves in my apartment, a bus bomb on the number 19 bus (the only bus I’ve ridden besides the 23), a snowstorm…it feels like I’ve been gone forever.
I feel like I’m getting things back in order around here, talking to professors, taking tests, writing papers. I had my Hebrew exam the day after I got back, which was worrisome as I hadn’t slept much, but I got an A and they’ve seen fit to pass me onto the next level…and I’m actually hoping they’ll let me skip a level. I would be behind again, but everyone loves a challenge.
Last night I went out with Luise and Bernt and Luise’s boyfriend, who’s visiting from Germany. I didn’t eat dinner, so the drinks went to my head faster than I thought they would, and I’m paying for it today. I also have the unsettling feeling that I behaved foolishly, as often accompanies such nights of revelry. Oh well. I was celebrating my return. Tonight I head out to the Hauman, Jerusalem’s largest dance club. Should be interesting.
Tags: Israel, Learn
It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything, but this life of mine spun out of control briefly and I’m only now picking up the pieces. My grandmother passed away three weeks ago, and the next thing I knew I was on a plane from Tel Aviv to Cleveland. I had two weeks left in the semester, but my professors all let me arrange things so that I could go home and be with my family. I did just that, and in a few days I head back to Israel and all the work I left behind. I feel disconnected from my life there right now, understandably so, but I have this nagging feeling I won’t be able to catch up.
It’s been a long time since I was in school last, and even then I don’t recall ever worrying as much about my grades as I do now. That’s not all I’m worried about though. The future is still there, lurking, closer than it felt when I was in my last respite–college. There is no more running from it! But I am. I am running from lots of things, and toward nothing certain. Bla bla bla.