Break’s Over

People are already returning to my school today. My flight leaves tomorrow night. I should get to bed so I can wake up early and pack.
It’s with mixed feelings that I’m leaving. In many ways, I’m glad to go back. There are good things waiting for me back at school, in all avenues of life. But there are good things here, too. I guess this is kind of the best possible problem to have, right? Leaving one happy place for another happy place isn’t really something I feel comfortable complaining about.

Following

He followed her everywhere. On Twitter, on the various blogs she’d started over the years, on Facebook and Google Plus. He followed her down the street, into the supermarket and out again, up to her office at work and back down to the parking lot at the end of the day, out to bars where she met dates and was disappointed and then back to her apartment where she went to sleep, often in tears.

He followed her moods, whims and crazes. He followed her progress when she decided to learn French, when she took up violin, when she began to take aerobics classes. He followed her as she gave each up carelessly, pretending the hobbies and skills she tried to acquire meant nothing. He followed her hand as she scratched frantically in her journal, bemoaning her latest failure and wishing to be someone else.

He followed her across the country when she ran away, hoping that a fresh start would make everything different. He followed her dizzy spiral of hope and contentment and its fizzle back down to the familiar low ebb of desperation.

He followed her up the building but held his arm out so she couldn’t jump. He followed her into the bathtub and took away the razor-blade so she couldn’t cut. He followed her into the garage and unplugged the exhaust pipe so she couldn’t suffocate. He followed her gently, quietly, invisibly, a guardian angel in her atheist world, wishing he could tell her how wonderful she was.

His and Hers

She knew everything there was to know about him. She knew every scrap of information he’d ever posted on the Web, she knew every secret he’d ever written in one of his various anonymous blogs that she’d tracked down, and she knew every one of his many pastimes because he was so good as to post them incessantly on his Twitter account.

She knew that he’d spent a month in Japan eating nothing but rice because he was allergic to all types of fish. She knew that he was going to apply to Harvard Law School only because his father wanted him to, and that he ended up going because he wanted to as well. She knew that on his twenty-fourth birthday he ran out of clean underwear and had decided, to celebrate his nuptials, to walk around nude beneath his Dockers.

She knew when he started going out with the blonde, when he dumped her for the brunette and when he decided he needed time off from any hair-colors at all. She knew when he fell in love, when he proposed and when he was turned down. She knew when he was depressed and went to seek medical and professional help. She knew when he graduated with distinction and decided to get a teaching certificate instead of become a lawyer like he’d planned at first.

She knew him better than she knew herself. She became joyful when he was happy and blue when he was sad and excited when he was planning his next move in life. She celebrated his birthdays and the holidays he observed. She shared New Year’s Eve with him in Times Square where she knew he went every single year without fail.

She lived her life through him, through his experiences, through his loves and disappointments, his successes and his defeats, his whims and his dedications.

His life was hers, and he didn’t know it.

 

A Relationship

“I can’t take it anymore!” Nell screamed. “I just can’t! I don’t know what I can do anymore, I really don’t!” She was at her wit’s end. It had gone on for far too long, and she had no idea how she’d let things get to this point. “What more do you want me to do for you, huh? What more can I do to please you? I can never win with you, you know that? It’s a lose-lose situation, no matter what I do!”

She huffed, and paced, walking from one side of the carpeted living room to the other. Her hands clasped behind her back, she tried to calm down a little. “Is there something I can be doing that I’m not? Tell me – is there? I’ll honestly do whatever it takes. I’ve been with you too long to give you up, even though I’m this close,” she held up her hand, forefinger and thumb almost touching, she was holding them so near. “But I’m not going to run from this – relationships are something you need to work on, everyone says so.”

Continuing to pace, Nell waited. And waited. The silence lingered. She burst out again, unable to restrain herself. “But how can I make you happy if you don’t tell me how?! I feed you, I clothe you, I bathe you – I take care of you, damn it! But you keep saying it’s not enough! I try to do things for you, I really do, I swear I do!”

Tears now stained her face. Her voice broke and she sat down heavily on the couch, pulled her legs up and hugged them tightly to her chest. “Tell me, please, I beg you, tell me what I can do,” she was rocking back and forth, sobbing, her anger evaporated. Only a deep, heavy sadness remained. “Please… please tell me… Tell me how I can make you happy – I’ll do anything, I swear, I promise, I really will,” she looked up imploringly, her eyes two pools of salt-water, pleading, waiting for an answer.

There was no one else there.

Those

There are those who browse, touching the books as they go.

There are those who straighten the books as they pass over them, as if, like me, it bothers them to see a messy booth.

There are those who look down resolutely, in denial that there’s someone on the other side.

There are those who look up if you greet them with cheer and a smile.

There are those who ignore even that.

There are those who watch other people, who pick up a book someone has just bought, or snatch it up if they didn’t want it.

There are those who listen in to my conversations with customers and try to glean information from them so that they won’t need to talk to me themselves.

There are those who think they’re witty and who continue to badger on with their friends and block the booth with sheer volume and an annoying aura.

There are those who are excited to buy books.

There are those who buy books only because they’re on sale or even for free with their frequent-flier cards.

There are those who tell the stranger next to them that the book he or she is holding is good.

There are those who tell the stranger next to them that the book he or she is holding is bad, even though they’ve only read the reviews.

There are those who are so passionate that they almost have tears in their eyes, and they do my job for me, convincing people to buy this or that book.

There are those who are mean, for no reason at all.

There are those who are nice, maybe because I’m cheerful, but maybe for no reason at all.

There are those who are old.

There are those who are young.

There are those with their lovers.

There are those with their children.

There are those who don’t care a whit about books.

There are those who love them as much as I do.

Apologies and The Tale of the Book Fair

First of all, I want to apologize to you all – I haven’t had time to read any of your wonderful posts yesterday and today, and I feel awful about it. I always do, you know. I feel such a respect and appreciation for all of you who post so faithfully and who make me laugh, think, weep, and smile in turns – and I hate not having the time both to comment and to read your posts for my own pleasure. I do, however, have a good reason for not having had time yesterday and today to catch up.

I’ve had a rush of doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds [stomach and throat – I’m not pregnant or anything!] and errands in the past two days. On top of all that, starting yesterday, June 2, I’ve been working at the Hebrew Book Fair, which has been one of my goals since I was tiny tot.

Now, I don’t want to be too discriminatory, nor too prejudiced, but Israelis are often not the easiest crowd to deal with. This is common knowledge amongst Israelis, too, and as I am one, I’m allowed to say it. But Hebrew Book Week is ten full days in which fairs go up all over the country – fairs dedicated to BOOKS [yeah, I know, why call it a week when it’s ten days? It’s one of the grand mysteries of the world.] If you don’t know already, books are my life in more than one sense. They’ve been calming, comforting presences, friends when I needed them, entertainers when I needed a laugh and teachers when I wanted to learn. I love books. I love their smell, their feel, the crack in the spine when you first start reading a book… I love books.

So finally, this year, I’m working at the biggest of the fairs – the one that goes up right in the center of Tel Aviv – and I’m working for one of the major publishers. I never thought that I’d actually manage to work there, and I’m so glad that I have! I was tiny when I started going to the annual book fair, and I remember the excitement of leaving with bags laden with books [there’s 20% off all books during this time, of course, plus numerous other deals] and reading one of the books right that night. I remember going to the children’s corner to hear storytellers or writers reading their books.

And now I’m there, looking at it all from the other side. It’s an interesting experience, seeing famous Israeli writers or not so famous ones; seeing the way different writers deal with their own books [some, for instance, promote them shamelessly and aggressively. I can’t imagine ever being able to do that with anything I’d create…] ; seeing the different buyers, whether they’re families or couples or friends; meeting the people who work with me who are just as into books as I am… It’s an education, and the time flies.

The fair is in the evenings and into the night. I just managed to get out tonight by fifteen after midnight, and I’m exhausted. This may explain the non-existent eloquence of the post, as well as the not-so-pervading neatness and flow. Forgive me, for I’ve been on my feet for seven hours, and I think my brain might have dripped down meanwhile. Tomorrow, and Saturday, I will have freer days and will finally get back on track with y’all.

Travel Fever

There are two kinds of travel fever, as far as I am concerned.

The first is the one that can be a curse, but is ultimately a good feeling. It’s that itch, that undefinable wiggle in your heart that tells you to go, to get out, to move, to travel, to be somewhere else. It’s that feeling that begins to mount inside your chest two or three months before the blessed event of the vacation or trip – that stomach-leaping, heart-racing, whoop-of-excitement sort of fever that grips you joyfully in moments when you don’t expect it. It’s that feeling of anticipation that’s almost unbearable because it’s so wonderful and intense.

Then there’s the second kind of travel fever. This is the kind that is only a curse, and comes with some similar symptoms. This time, though, the stomach leaps with fear and nerves, the heart races with anxiety and worry and the sound caught in the throat is more of a moan, a stifled sigh, a cry of dismay and exhaustion and an instinct that says that home is the best and travel is unneeded, a hassle and a trial. It’s the kind of travel fever that puts the entire household into a bad mood, that makes the various packers snap at each other and rush around trying to recover lost objects while inevitably finding them in the entirely wrong place and blaming everyone else for it. It’s the feeling that grips your very guts as you push yourself through the various tasks and chores of lugging, checking in, being polite to security and trudging around dismal shops in the airport.

I am in the grips of this second travel fever. My mother and I fly to New York tonight in order to complete that dreaded chore – vacating my dorm room and putting all my things in storage to await my return, hopefully, in the fall. We will be flying back on Friday, and this is most assuredly not a pleasure jaunt but more of a necessary and emotionally painful inconvenience. Hopefully, all will go well and we’ll suffer no travel delays due to various weather conditions!