Rayna in all her grace planned ahead to skip class the next day. What a great gal, and an amazing girlfriend. We had an excellent breakfast at Cup 'o Joe downstairs from our apartment (Israeli breakfast is salad, eggs, coffee and juice, and some 'sauces' which can be guacamole, tahina, tuna, or something else that fits in a little dish, toast and sunshine). We took our time and talked, Rayna helping me get oriented, and me operating at about 85% due to jet lag. After we walked to her school (it's about 10 min. or less walk from our apt.) and met with Nancy who is saintly and so welcoming. She helped us plan our upcoming anniversary trip, and get me some options for hebrew lessons etc. Everyone at HUC is so friendly and helpful. I met a ton of other students, got the official tour, and had some moments...
I've been here before. yes. I was 16 going on 17, here with NFTY for a summer safari, so eager so excited... i celebrated my birthday somewhere here... courtyards surrounded by buildings, filled with flashes of memory, shafts of light through the trellis, a memory of photos, of taking photos, of reliving through shared remembrances years later with friends, and now back, in a flash... I've been here before.
Yes, right here! The Persian Gardens, a spiral fountain, here a memory a picture in my mind of myself taking a photo down this long fountain, an evening in 1994 with new friends and wild new excitement and places all over again! Like echoes of your own heartbeat in the grand canyon, thundering back to me I am transfixed in time. Spiraled back upon my dearest memories. Safari 14 here with me again. My how the mind works and memory beckons like a dark forest path, light at the end and sounds all around.
I had an hour while Rayna had a meeting at lunch (the one thing she couldn't skip :) ) where I explored and discovered this place. I met so many wonderful people. Friends I hadn't met yet but they knew me through Rayna, and I knew them through her as well. Wonderful people full of hope and life, engaged in a learning that is both mystic and practical, leading the world through learning the past. More on that later I'm sure.
After Rayna's meeting we walked to the old city of Jerusalem. The city of legend, the city of walls and wars. A city of peace enmeshed in violent struggle, a city of such dynamic tensions and of ancient repose. It beckoned like a bell tolling at frequencies only felt by the soul, pulling us in. Jerusalem will fill this blog with simile, metaphor, experience, stories, magic, wonder, sadness, hope, history, alarm, excitement, shame, fear, bliss, ecstasy, more than I can give you now. Those entries will come later I hope, this is no promise, but I can tell you I know this now from my first experience there. All the emotions I know become her. Wrapped up in layers, in endless details, in simple untouchable truths, in unbelievable irrational, Jerusalem beckons. She is eternal as the sand on a beach. She is fragile and changing as the endless dreams of the clouds. She is beautiful and terrible soaked in blood and sunlight. Filled with beautiful sights, smells, sounds, and souls. She is graceful and stocky. She is all and naught. Hope and endless, eternal waiting.
We walked her streets, saw the wares hawked, tasted the treats and spoke to the locals. We walled ourselves off in solemnity as we placed our hands on her walls. On The Wall. I opened myself to the divine, and found questions. More questions, and now answers, just questions and beliefs. I will tell you more when the time is right. Not now. We left The Wall and walked the ramparts back towards the Jaffa Gate (that's on the Western side, right in the middle, in plain view of Rayna's school... what a place!). We left the old city, and entered back into the new, my weariness returning, we went home.
Dinner was simple and wonderful, Rayna made chili and rice and we had a glass of wine at Rayna's (and now my) dear friends Susie and Mandy's apartment. Then we came home and I once again entered the sleep of the jet lagged, crushing powerful deep sleep.... with not tests on my mind, or worries in my soul. It's good to be here. It's great to be here with Rayna.