כאב לב

Updated: Aug 20, 2018

The only purpose of spending this summer in Israel was to get my heart broken.

When you’re feeling butterflies with a person and your head gets messed up every time they’re around, letting yourself be really hurt by them is the only way out. Especially when that person is all wrong for so many rational reasons and in so many ways; is just not at all what you expect from yourself or what others have in mind for you. Then having your heart broken really is the only option. And what works for people should work for countries, too, right?

So the only purpose of spending some time in Israel this summer, was to get my heart broken by it, get rid of the Israel bug, and then move on and do the “right” thing, i.e. get a job in the US or accept one of these fancy positions in Germany, and just move on in the way that’s expected of me. Being excited about Israel often really feels like being excited about the “wrong” man. I’m well aware of what people from both sides have said to me in the past year, and I can guess what they’ve held back to say to my face. “Hanging out again with that man with the Judaism!?” A classmate shouted at me across a Cambridge cafe. “I would never want one of those people that do Christmas to be too close friends with my daughters!” My Jewish-American “foster mum” unconsciously said to me, her daughters’ good friend, over dinner one night. I smiled. Those people that do Christmas, that’s me and almost everyone I love. Unfortunately, those guys, who mess with your head, often come around for a reason and at just the right moment. They may make you feel furious like nobody else and get under your skin in a really weird or core-shaking way. But they also make you feel so very much alive, give you a laughing heart, and they challenge you to do and think things you normally wouldn’t, and you have no idea why, or why you even waste your time with them. They bring out new colours of your soul.

The last year in Cambridge I was sort of dating the right country, had the right kind of address and job - that’s like bringing home that smooth, handsome guy with the ironed shirts, who brings flowers for your mum and jokes around with your dad after 5 minutes. Someone who seems to speak your language, who is everybody’s darling at every family holiday, exactly the kind of person they expect you to bring home, and they all think you must be so happy. And you smile and are demonstratively loved up, because that’s what you’re supposed to do. And it’s fine somehow, plain-sailing, smooth dating. But in the back of your mind you know that you can never be really happy, because there is this other man and the two of you somehow have a spark. A spark that wants to be explored, even against all odds.

So now I’m having this will-they-won’t-they affair with this awkward, rough, but sexy country, that’s a difficult commitment phobic with intimacy issues. A country that doesn’t really want me, signals me that there are a million other, cooler people, and in fact keeps away from me, whenever we are in danger of getting to close. But man, it’s hot and it’s butterflies all over! And I have such a laughing heart all the time, when it really, really shouldn’t be like this.

So I wish this wrong, but sexy country would stop sneaking into my thoughts, when I’m trying to become serious with an easy, handsome country. It should just let me go and finally break my heart. But I somehow have a feeling that it is just as likely that I could get very lucky and have one of those super kitsch, but really romantic and passionate Hollywood endings with this all-wrong country.

I collect great beginnings. Beginnings of songs, of movies, of great articles and books.

This quote by Buzz Bissinger is the most beautiful beginning in my collection. It also captures perfectly what it feels like for me to research and write newspaper articles about Israelis and Israel. The short notes below describe the experiences behind my published texts. They are the fun, silly, absurd, baffled or sad real beginnings of those stories. They sketch what happens before or after I write the actual piece and send it off to the editor, and they are taken from my diary entries about rummaging up and down that little country and its people for no other reason but pure curiosity. 

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