The first time I found myself in Jerusalem, in 2005, I knew This Was It. I Was Home. Why? That can only be explained by my Adopted Sister KupKake’s explanation, which I will explain as follows: Someone did an experiment with clams (yes I know they are not kosher but neither is this post). Everyone knows that clams open and close in sync with the tides, right? Well you should. So they took clams from the East Coast Atlantic (yes, of America, where else) and planted them in the West Coast Pacific (yes of course they gave them expensive sunglasses). And sunovabitch if the little fuckers didn’t open and close, not on West Coast Pacific tidal times, but right exactly according to the East Coast Atlantic tide tables of the place from which they were plucked (if you live on the coast you get the tide tables, which tell you when is the optimal time to go clamming, and when is the optimal time to drown.)
So according to KupKake, the reason both she and I feel so awesome good when we’re in Jerusalem is that our clams are opening and closing at the right times. Get it? I didn’t expect you to. Never mind.
So when I was called back to Amerika to take care of important family duties, at first I couldn’t get over the clam business. My clams were clamoring to be back HOME. I was bereft, and bawled every day for days on end. Like about 365 of them. Then I cut back to every other day, then three times a week. Then my shrink upped my med doses, and now I don’t give a flying fuck about anything at all so I rarely cry for the loss of my Jerusalem.
Nevertheless I think about her all the time. Jerusalem is a crazy place to live. It is truly the only place I feel at home, even though my hermetic habits do not change there (the federal disability judge recently issued an official statement proclaiming that I am a Recluse. I guess that makes me an OFFICIAL recluse. I always wanted to be a recluse, so there. If that muggle judge couldn’t see with his own eyes that I’m an Alien, well, well….it doesn’t matter.)
Anyway. When I am in Jerusalem, cozied up in my house, not going out except to the shuk (public market) which is my favorite place in the entire world, full of noise and noisome smells like rotting vegetables and rancid meat and aging fish and dead cats and stale beer and bad cigars and B.O., and delicious smells like freshly baking pita and Turkish coffee and ripe fruit and fresh spices and Moroccan soups cooking and the wet leaves of fresh celery, when I am not going anywhere except the transports of the magic carpet ride of my favorite sunken-in once-overstuffed but now-understuffed chair, I can close my eyes and listen to the boisterous National Religious youth singing passages from Psalms about Jerusalem, shouting when they get to “Yerushalayim,” which is Jerusalem in Hebrew; or the Mizrachi (Middle Eastern Jewish) youth singing the same line from Psalms in a whole different tune and shouting when they get to Yerushalayim; or the Yeshivish youth, much more conservative and much more drunk, singing yet another tune to the same Psalm and shouting when they get to Yerushalayim. And then there are the American youth, drunker than all of them put together, doing the same thing. All of this I hear from my Magic Carpet Chair in my home in Yerushalayim, which sadly I have lost because I have had to be in Amerika so long.
Machane Yehuda Shuk 1
On the other hand. What am I here for? I ask that daily, for it is very important to ask and to answer that question daily. I am here to be part of my father’s last days. I am here to fix some things that were broken, that were neglected, that were threatening to be lost. These too are likely to bring tears, even in my placidly drugged state. That is good, as it shows that I am still somewhat alive after all, even though I am a legally official Recluse.
From my magic carpet chair above the waterfall beneath my window, I float from here to there. I cannot go to the Shuk to regain equilibrium; the river is now my Polaris. I look to the River for orientation. The music of the river must needs take the place of the hoards of boisterous youth shouting Psalms. If I listen quietly I can hear them in the roar of the waterfall beneath my window. I can go out and freeze on my deck above the falls and have every thought swept away by the thundering water, even Yerushalayim. And that is scary, to think that for one moment I could lose Her to a mere body of water crashing over rocks.
But maybe it’s not that way at all. Maybe this IS Yerushalayim for me, here, now, because this is what it is, and this is where I need to be, and ought to be, and must be. And Yerushalayim is where she is, and she is here too, in this rushing water, and in this Magic Carpet Chair with my little Lhasa Apso tucked under my right elbow, as usual.