Friday, January 2, 2009

a release, i hope by k

i don't even know where to begin or what exactly to write, but i need to release some of the many many thoughts swirling around in my head. my mind has been astir ever since we got here and it seems to be getting more intense. the past couple of days when we got back to where we were staying, i had to lie down in the dark and just be. yesterday was especially bad after a long day in jerusalem. i think it is the tensest city i have ever been in. or, maybe better said, that is the tensest i have ever been in a city. just walking into the old city through the jaffa gate, i felt my chest and neck tighten felt asphyxiating. i imagine it's worse now because of what's happening in gaza, but i think i would have had a similar reaction anyway. there are thousands of years of tension and strife and i don't find that uplifting or joyous in any way.

as i was thinking about writing this post, i was feeling a little guilty. doesn't everyone love jerusalem? isn't it one of those places everyone is supposed to be moved by? i have been thinking a lot in the past months about what attracts people to a place, what makes them feel good in one place more than another. i'm learning that sometimes the only answer is that it just is that way. you can't point to specific things, you just feel good. in my new coaching lingo, it resonates. and i'm realizing that some things/places resonate with some people and some don't, and that's okay. it's neither good nor bad, right nor wrong. it just is what it is. so, i'm not wrong for not feeling good in's just what i felt.

my two favorite moments in the old city were when we were in a 2,500 year old water tunnel under the "city of david" and as we walked along the ramparts around the old city. in the tunnel, i had my leggings pulled up all the way up my thighs, my dress hitched up for the deepest part, my bright pink shoes hanging around my neck, a headlamp on, walking in this pitch black tunnel in shin deep water most of the way...quite a sight...fortunately it was dark! it was quiet, we were alone and it was actually warmer down there bare foot in the water than in the city above.

as barak was buying tickets to go in the tunnel, dorian ran over to me and said, "the tunnel may be closed. we may not be able to go in." but then barak came up and said, yes we could go. it wasn't until we were about 25 minutes into our tunnel walk when barak asked our guide why it was unclear if we could go in the tunnel earlier. here we were, the only people down under tons of solid rock. i figured it was that others didn't want to get wet. well, the guide chooses this point to nonchalantly tell us that this was the first day the tunnel had been opened because it comes out in an arab area and there had been some problems because of the gaza situation. oh yeah, and he also told us that when he rode his bike in the area the tunnel ends a few days earlier, some kids had been throwing rocks at him! oh goody, can't wait until the tunnel ends! fortunately, arel and dorian were having a great time, asking us to turn flashlights off now and again to experience the total blackness. fortunately, we didn't have problems getting back up to the old city, but the tension was there. shit happens here and you can't take any of it lightly.

walking on the ramparts was also nice. we could look down on the old city, talk about the history, but not be in the thick of it. there was more room to breathe. one part of the ramparts was essentially the border between israel and jordan for around 20 years and the guide pointed out the bullets holes in the buildings from that time. reminded me of seeing all the bullethole-ridden buildings near the berlin wall. that former border that we were walking along fell when barak was a baby in israel, during the 6-day war. i imagine how terrifying it must have been for his parents (not to mention everyone else living there) and how even as a six-month-old baby barak picked some of it up. he still carries it around with him, which is partly why i think it is so hard for him to be in israel.

there is also a much larger military presence in jerusalem. again, i'm not sure if it's always like this or if there is more now. i guess today i do know that it was especially guarded because muslims had called for a "day of wrath" in reaction to the gaza situation. i found that out over bagels this morning with our friends daniel and julie and their kids. oh fun, a day of wrath to get the new year started! and we were planning to go to the west bank to check out the dead sea. everyone assured us that the road we would take is israeli controlled and "perfectly safe," but all the little groups of three or four soldiers with guns at random points along the way was not comforting.

as we were trying to find our way out of jerusalem, which took a very long time, we kept coming across signs for tel aviv. my mind was saying, maybe we should just go back, but i kept my mouth shut. but after about 20 minutes and still not finding the right way out of the city, i said to barak, maybe all these tel aviv signs are telling us something. turns out they were. we decided to follow them and finally found the highway to the dead sea...

there is so much more to say, but i'm feeling really exhausted. can't say everything all at once. i guess the final note for this post is just that i feel sad for the people that live here and have to experience this tension as a regular part of their lives. it must be very painful. it is an incredibly complicated situation and there are no clear or easy answers.