Réalité, fraternité, égalité

You woke me up in the middle of a dream and showed me a newspaper article. You couldn’t get your apartment rooms sold (the newspaper made a mistake, they meant rented) for over $1231 a month, though the rooms were worth $1671 each. But the economy is bad and you had to take that into account.

Naivo, the Malagasy writer, didn’t show up to the birthday party held for children at my grandmother’s old house that my brother and I’d sold a thousand years ago, so there was hell to pay and the children roamed the old neighborhood. That wasn’t our responsibility. A little girl had a crush on you though and when you turned to talk to her, smiling, I suddenly saw your hair, longer than it had ever been before, even though I had just seen it short in your profile pictures. Years must have passed without my knowing it. Your hair was always black in that almost blue way but with dignified grey hairs cropping up when you were twenty. Now, with this mass that reached all the way down your back, those were invisible. You let your hair loose when I asked you to, and I marveled at it, told you it was beautiful.

At your parents’ house, I said hello to them, and your father was in a wheelchair, sitting next to your mother, as they both worked intently together on a single computer, discussing how to write an article and what pictures to include. We sat down in your living room and you told me that your father injured a disc, or something like that, which was why he was in a wheelchair. You didn’t sound worried, so I didn’t worry either.

We talked. Your hair was down again, but now it was braided everywhere, easier to manage and less tangleable. You leaned in. I didn’t move. I let your lip brush mine. But I didn’t move. It was your move. Your turn. Your decision. I was open to it, but my eyes were wide open and I watched and felt you hesitate, pull away, lean forward again and kiss me.

It was nothing like I remembered it. You poked into my mouth though your lips were as soft as they’d ever been. More vivid. We were naked and having sex with your parents in the next room until I pointed that fact out. You shrugged, pulled out, and I worried–we hadn’t used a condom. You shrugged again. I was on birth control, and hoped you were clean. I followed you out the door.

In a dark hallway, waiting for the elevator, people were milling about and when the doors opened I was about to get in but you stopped me. Started kissing me again. Told me it was my turn. And I fucked you against a wall but good. You held me but I fucked you. This was clear.

Neither of us climaxed. Those sensations seemed long gone and the sex quick and dramatic only in the mere fact that it was happening at all.

I told you you must be a man whore now. You shrugged, this gesture which had never been characteristic, and you said maybe. I asked how many. You said four. I asked if that was four hookups or four people you’d had sex with on and off. You said it was on and off sex. Nothing serious, was the implication.

You put me to sleep again and I found him there, in bed with me, waking up. I snuggled into his back. Warm and broad. When he turned to me I kissed him, recapturing his feeling. He was nothing like you. He was better than you, and this dream felt more vivid than your awakening. I kissed him again. He held me.I told him I’d had a nightmare, when in reality, I had no idea whether I was now in one of those or in a good dream, where you can taste and smell more, where time is more linear. Those dreams are calming, settling, and I preferred those overall to the reality I’d just experienced, which was so strange.

Because you stopped me before, when I tried to kiss you. You told me that I didn’t matter in the way I wanted to matter. And for the first time, I didn’t force myself upon you, and I accepted that you were different. I let you come to me. I took what happened on its own terms.

Still. I’m glad to be dreaming again.

Realism… Magically?

The knitting store on the corner of Main and Copper streets had a long tradition of being the gossip hangout of the small town. Small towns are all the same, in some way or another, and they all have small shops and restaurants where the older residents would congregate and discuss the week. This town had this shop. The Yarn Depot. It was opened during the days when the word “depot” still seemed modern and inspired. If a new knitting store were to open now, the youngsters would probably call it Ye Olde Yarn Shoppe, trying to be twee and adorable. The kitting circle at the Yarn Depot all agreed that it was a good thing that none of the young people were interested in knitting.
Magdalene, Barbara, Lorna and Jack were the main members of the Monday night knitting circle. Jack and Lorna were the married couple who’d opened the Yarn Depot some fifty years ago, when Jack’s grandmother had died and left him a lot of money to “do something productive with,” as she’d written in the letter addressed to him that was found with her will. Jack’s parents were both scatterbrained, and his grandmother didn’t trust them not to spend the money on a trip to Africa. She didn’t approve of travel because she thought that there was nothing in the world that could compare to the good, old United States of America.
Some people thought Jack was throwing his money away and not doing anything useful with it at all. But Lorna, who had a better head for business than he did, assured him that while they may not make a lot of money, they would always make a small profit, enough to build up a college fund for their children over the years. She’d been right, and while the Yarn Depot had had its rough years, as all businesses did, it also had a steady clientele of regulars.
Monday nights weren’t open to the general public. Monday nights were just theirs. Theirs and their friends’. Maggie and Barb were their oldest friends. They’d all gone to high school together in the small town, and they all knew each others’ smallest quirks, likes, dislikes, pet peeves, oddball habits and deadly allergies. Every Monday night the circular table in the back room of the shop was always set up the same – there was a bottle of red wine for Barb, a bottle of apple cider for Maggie who was a recovering alcoholic, a box of sugarless cookies for Jack, who’d been diabetic for the last few years, and a bowl of potato chips for Lorna, who despised sweets.
The talk on the particular Monday night where everything started happening was directed at the usual things.
“I can’t believe I’m knitting baby booties. Again,” Maggie said. She pushed her big glasses up her nose.
“Have you gotten the ultrasound photos yet?” Jack asked.
“No, and thank goodness. I don’t think I can coo over another blob and pretend that I see anything in it.”
“Oh, you’re such a liar, dear,” Barb said, patting Maggie on the knee. “She cries every time.”
“I don’t approve of having so many children. Two is quite enough. A fourth is really getting out of hand. And what if it’s another girl? They’re not going to check the sex, you know. They want to have it be another surprise.”
“Do you think they’ll try for a fifth if they don’t get a boy this time?” Lorna asked, casting yarn onto knitting needles the reached her knees. Her specialty was blankets.
“If that man has his way. All he wants is a boy to play ball with. I keep telling him and telling him-”
“She does, you know, she’s not just saying it-” Barb muttered confidentially to Jack.
“-that a girl can play baseball just as well as a boy can.” Maggie frowned at Barb but didn’t say anything. It was one of those long-time-couple things. She knew Maggie spoke over people and she’d given up on trying to change that a long time ago.
A lull in the conversation led Jack to exclaim over the cookies. Barb and Maggie baked them, using sweetener instead of sugar, and although Jack had a bad after-taste in his mouth from the artificial flavor, he told them that the cookies were “luscious, simply decadent,” so as not to hurt their feelings.
It could have shaped up into a pretty normal evening if it wasn’t for the fact that a knight, a fairy and a talking tom-cat rushed in through the front door, begging to be hidden from the maddened wolf-sorcerer who was following them.

The Concert of My Dreams

A lot of it was a blur. Hours seemed to pass between the time spent in a strange mall, all closed up except for one store blasting out strong music, and the actual event. It was strange, the way everything lost proportion. Time either crawled or hurried past. Scenes and people and views changed in a flash. Only some moments stand out clearly in my memory… That’s how it always is in dreams, isn’t it?

But it wasn’t a dream. It was real. We got to the mall at 15:00, found the neighboring stadium and the cluster of people. It felt like coming home. They were happy, energetic, giddy with excitement. There were nerds, and girls and Goths and metal-heads. There were young boys, barely into puberty and women in their thirties, clearly original fans.  Bottles of beer, vodka and even white wine littered the ground along with what seemed to be a thousand cigarette butts. But it was the one place, the only place, in which I felt perfectly comfortable with it.

We were there for a concert, a show. The rules are different when music pumps in people’s veins and the sun burns their backs to a crisp as they wait at a gate guarded by a couple heavy-set men. The rules have to change in an environment like that – it’s inevitable. Better to throw bottles on the ground where the organizers know it’s going to happen than throwing bottles into a crowd later and injuring someone.

It seemed as if we were in and out of the mall for food and bathroom breaks a hundred times, but finally, at 16:45, we were in the crowd waiting at the entrances. It was hot, sticky, and the sun was piercing and bright. People kept whooping for no reason, getting everyone just a bit more pumped up. Sir B. F. and I played games, guessing at what this or that person was like outside of Concert-Time.

Concert-Time is a different dimension, holding a dream-like quality, and consisting of no more than twenty-four hours in which time itself seems to shrink and elongate. The sunlit hours are the longest, whereas the moment evening falls, the breezes hold sweet and short promises. Crushed in a crowd, time elongates again in the heat and airless place. But then, suddenly, time seems to jump forward – by fifteen minutes, half an hour, an hour. The opening bands are on the stage forever, and then they’re not. The stage is empty forever, and then, suddenly, gloriously, it’s not.

They came on-stage, four men in the their mid-forties, and the crowd roared. We were part of a beast, a many-headed animal that thrashed and begged and demanded to be satisfied. The moment the first note started, we began to feed. Music, loud notes one after another, lyrics yelled at the top of our voices while the men on-stage sang loudly with us, for us. The speakers, huge and foreboding when the sun was up, were now a welcome friend, giving out the drug that we needed – the music.

**

Metallica haven’t been in Israel for eleven years. Finally, on Saturday, May 22nd, they performed at the Ramat-Gan Stadium to the ecstasy of long-time and new fans alike. There were sound issues, issues that the stadium staff blamed on Metallica’s equipment. But it didn’t matter whose fault it was – only that it was fixed, and that the crowd, and I inside it, roared approval at each return of the full blast of the speakers.

There are concerts you can’t ever go to again. Concerts that you know were likely once in a lifetime opportunities. This was one of them, and I cannot express how glad I was to be there. It was a night of enchantment – a night of dreams coming true.

On Edge

Fingers tapping against coffee mug, restless; legs changing positions every few seconds, unable to be still for long; eyes blinking constantly, darting from one corner of the room to the next, searching, searching… for what?

I’m on edge. I don’t know why, I don’t know what caused it. I’m on edge.

Shadows in the corners seem to loom at me, bigger whenever I see them from the corner of my eye. Time seems to stand still or leap forwards in endless and illogical bounds, breaking all feeling of sequence from the day. Everything seems too silent, too still, to be reality. Feels like a dream.

No dream, though. Pinching doesn’t result in pain so much as a curious feeling, a connection to the here and now. Unexplicabley real and present, it helps a little. Still, that feeling can surface in dreams as well. Maybe I’ll wake up? Maybe I won’t. Maybe reality is sometimes dreamlike. Maybe we have to learn to live with that.

Big Brother

Will someone please explain to me the fascination people seem to find with watching other people lead absolutely boring lives inside a house? I will never understand it. I see the allure of certain so-called “reality shows” – so called because I know for a fact they’re all freaking scripted – like Project Runway, which is actually about exposure and talent, or even America’s Next Top Model, which is entertaining, if not particularly intelligent.

But what’s with this new [old] genre of Big Brother shows? What’s with people wanting to watch some normal people like themselves stuck inside a house for months with nowhere to go and nothing to do? What is so damn interesting about that?! Every day when I go to work I hear people talking about the damn show – heck, now they can watch it twenty-four seven cause they’ve made a whole freaking channel dedicated to it!

Oh yeah, by the way, did you know that those shows are scripted as well? Meaning you’re not even watching the real goings-on in the house, you’re watching planned and scripted dramas! So why not just turn on a soap-opera? At least then you KNOW it’s scripted and you’re not believing some lame lie!

Argh. I hate this new reality-tv-based society. I like writers who write scripts and tell everyone in no uncertain terms that that’s what they’re doing. Seems more creative and interesting that way. Then again, maybe it’s just me.

Seeing Red

For a moment, the heat rises from the very tips of the toes all the way to the smallest nerve-endings in the fingertips and from thence to every part of the face. The heat rushes through the veins and tendons, searching out every muscle that can be flexed and made taught. For only a moment, all this happens unfettered by thought, by reality, by anything except the pure and unending rage.

In the one, pure moment before thought, the body is entirely out of its owner’s control, ruled by temper and animal instinct. But for a moment only. Muscles taught, blood pulsing wildly, hands clenching and unclenching, the thoughts nevertheless rise to meet rationality, reality and morals. The rage fights to be heard, to be let out, and while the body might lash out, hit, rend, tear and scratch, it will now be done with the knowledge of what is right, what is wrong, and what hurt is being inflicted because of the temper.

Rage and Temper – two harsh masters of which we all would want to be free. Alas, they are part of our natures. It is only that in some they rise to the surface more quickly, while some are lucky enough to have them lie dormant most of the time.