Sunday, March 26, 2017

Of Prophets and Lovers

Quotes of The Messiah

"A change in a finite and coherently organized context, invariably influences the value and significance of its contents." 

 "In an infinite context, finite content variations have no influence over the value and significance of remaining content, unless they are enclosed in a finite sub context." 

"The best stories are those that develop the significance of a mystery, in a crescendo of increasingly voluminous and valuable information, until a climax is reached and the mystery resolved, in a way that influences the value and significance of all previous information. Such a story causes unceasing intellectual and emotional echoes in the mind, relentless reverberations with ripple effects and standing waves, which themselves become objects of significance in other contexts."

The story of my life is such a story.

I am no scientist.

    I haven't the memory to remember the equations of math and physics or  the formulas of chemistry.  As far as my sense of vision is concerned, my pattern recognition abilities are probably worse than average. I have never been good at remembering faces or aligning them with names. All my life I have been approached by people who know me, whom I didn't recognize or couldn't recall  their names. As a paratrooper in the Israel army, I was taught navigation and I couldn't make heads or tails of it. Reading maps has always been a challenge. Making sense of any kind of technical information has always frustrated me to exasperation. While I could quickly duplicate and anticipate melodies, I have never been able to remember the words of songs I liked. I could never draw an image that in any way duplicates a real thing until I learned to sculpture form with color, like this.

 Or this.
I like these pictures I painted with oil pastels as they express efficiently in both color and form moments of my inner life. I also love the word moment which means the shortest possible duration of time necessary for something to exist, as well as significance. Of course something must exist,
if only in the imagination, for it to have significance. These visions existed for a moment in my mind's imagination and they have significance because I was able to capture them as an exterior image for others to see, and give them duration and thereby a potentially ever increasing moment

In a way, the creation of these undeniably colorful images as attempts at the duplication of what goes on inside of me for others to see, demonstrates where most of my attention is focused and why I am so deficient at recognizing patterns in what is going on in my field of vision, or in what people are putting into my mind, with words or symbols. As a child I was a very bad listener, anytime anyone was saying anything that wasn't self description. That was most of the time,  for most of the people I  met, starting with my parents and then teachers at school.

 When one' s memory is as weak as mine has been at remembering exterior forms- such as letters, numbers, visual patterns, equations, formulas, sequences of the appearance of information in the development of a didactic theme, one is unlikely to do well in one's formal education and I didn't. I was a very mediocre student at best. On my first high school matriculation I tried to cheat at math to pass, because a failure in math meant no high school diploma. As my answers and the answers of every one who sat in a cluster during the tests, had the same mistakes as the "math expert" who gave us the answers, we all failed, including him. It was evident that we had all copied answers from each other.

False information passed around as knowledge, spread like a disease in our minds, infecting all who had copied it. It was copied in the belief that  in the context of the pedagogic authorities around us, the belief by authorities that we actually possessed in our minds this knowledge, would facilitate our receipt of the Diploma that would unlock the doors to further education, and a more favorable integration into the civilization in which we were being educated. The false information, appearing as a pattern on a number of the student tests, students who were all sitting around the most knowledgeable math student in the class, was smoking gun evidence of a conspiracy of fraud and all those involved were equally penalized with a flunking grade and no diploma.

 I finally got my Diploma two years later, again by cheating, but only with my newly wed wife who was outside the classroom and met me when I took a break to go to the lavatory.  Nurit  quickly solved some equations I then surreptitiously copied onto my test paper. She was troubled by this and her discomfort showed in her barely legible handwriting. Nurit was innately unable to willfully lie, mislead or deceive anyone. She loved poetry which she remembered and could recite from her heart. She was also very good at mathematics, unlike me. Her modesty, honesty and sense of poetry were among the reasons I was so in love with her. Yet when I saw her almost indecipherable solutions to the math problems on my test, I was furious with her. Why didn't she love me enough to overcome her qualms and help me, help us, for God's Sake? Why did she cling to her own sense of propriety more than she supported me?

Her scribbled help wasn't sufficient to pass the test but I was allowed one failing mark for a diploma,  if it was no lower than a 5 out of 10 and that's what I got.

It's not as if I wasn't disconcerted by  the circumstances that I believed forced me to adopt undesirable deception in order to improve the quality of my life. I was uncomfortable cheating. I didn't like the unflattering thought that I am a cheater. Nurit and I were often at odds because I believed I had to do something to improve my qualifications for a good job so that I could earn money and we could have and raise children. In her soul she knew something about me she couldn't articulate. She knew I wasn't destined to be a family man. I knew it too, but I couldn't imagine any alternative. How does one become happy if not by finding a woman to love and be loved by, and raising together beloved children who relish the life one provides them. Children who respond with love and respect for the life they are given?

Despite my lack of an academic education, my first real job was in the foreign currency department of a major bank. It was a job full of promise. I spent the first months of the few I was there in courses. I was confused by the materiel and as usual, I was unable to remember the bureaucratic procedures. Somehow this went unnoticed for the most part. After my training as a run of the mill bank teller, I went to a course on the banking of foreign currency. At the time Israelis weren't allowed foreign currency accounts. There was a lot less to learn and a lot less activity. A few days after I started working at a medium sized branch in central Tel Aviv, the manager of the bank offered to drive me home and bought me a steak on the way, asking me about my life. I think this made the manager of the little foreign currency department anxious that she was going to be replaced. She became very short tempered and found fault with my filing skills, not without reason. It wasn't long before I was completely miserable.

 Life with Nurit wasn't going well at all, either. After the birth of our daughter, she completely closed down and wouldn't share with me what was going on inside her mind, her heart. I found this to be unbearably threatening and the growing distance between us caused me to lash out at her physically and verbally. I wanted to break down the barriers between us with force. Things just got ever worse. I had always been a very horny person, addicted to sex. I had hoped getting married would allow me a respite from masturbating over pornographic magazines. Nurit wouldn't have sex with me.

 For the most part she had always been frigid with me, anyway. She had been my first full lover, agreeing to have sex with me on my twentieth birthday, after we had been living together for two months. On the night she finally gave her self to me, the earth literally shook and our room was lit up with flashing colored lights. There was a tank exercise around our little secluded settlement  in The Golan Heights. We were making love and around us men were practicing war. When we got married it was on November 11th, Armistice Day, 1976.

Finally, torn apart  by overwhelming frustrations and pains as if  I was being pulled apart inside with ropes attached to horses all running in different directions, I wrote a letter of resignation and tendered it to the bank manager after he berated me in a meeting for not being obedient enough to my department head. He tried to tell me I was over reacting, that I was young and had a future at the bank, that I needed to learn how to weather such experiences and learn from them. All very good advice which I almost hearkened to. He suggested I take my letter back and reconsider. I hesitated. Then Something came over me, a whiff of freedom and it was more powerful than any practical considerations. I left the resignation letter on his desk.

I was somewhat apprehensive about telling Nurit what I had done. I was afraid of worrying her as she seemed so unable to cope with things as they were. We had a daughter, less than  a year old. When I told her I had quit the job at the bank, she rejoiced. She was happier than she had been since we got married. Suddenly she was vibrant and took me to bed. I couldn't get her to explain. She didn't have an explanation she could share. She was simply overjoyed I no longer was going to work at a bank. She did say that she had absolutely no concerns about how I would make a living. Everything would be alright.

Be all this as it is, I have been and still am, and hope to always be, an intensely curious person with an ever increasing passion to acquire knowledge. As goes pedagogy, I am an auto deduct, an adept at "the science" of Mathetics.

"Mathetics is the science of learning. The term was coined by John Amos Comenius (1592-1670) in his work Spicilegium didacticum, published in 1680. He understood Mathetics as the opposite of didactics, the science of teaching."

"The mathetic approach can be summarized as "learning by doing." Many proponents of the mathetic approach feel that the best, and maybe the only, way to learn is by self-discovery."

Self discovery! Yes, truth is honest self description. By observing and reporting to myself how my own mind works,  by researching the reasons for my own behavior, I have found not only a knowledge of myself, but a Knowledge of God and The Universe in which He has placed me.

I was violent towards Nurit.

On many occasions I slapped her, even when she was pregnant. I don't think I ever hit her twice in a row, the violence would burst out of me in brief flashes of rage during which I would lose control. I would apologize and cry. She seemed not to care.  All my imagination of a happy future had to do with her and she drew distant for reasons I couldn't fathom. She never explained. She wouldn't talk. I would promise her I would never do it again and she would behave as if it didn't matter to her whether  I beat her or not. She had swift short lived infatuations with others. Nothing real, just wild excursions of emotional fantasy. I was ultra sensitive to the smallest change in her demeanor. When I confronted her with such suspicions she would readily admit what she felt and I would be completely disarmed. Her sincere self expression of her feelings, made her look so beautiful in my eyes suddenly that all I could do was surrender to the feelings of love that would wash away my pains and my rage.
But as concerned the two of us as a couple, she would share nothing.

A short while after leaving the bank, I found a better paying job in security at the airport. I worked shifts with young people my age. There wasn't much to remember of a technical nature. Finally, after an explosive out burst on my part, Nurit left me and went to stay with her parents who ultimately  insisted we get a divorce because of my violent behavior. I was incapable of saying it wouldn't happen again because despite my saying so in the past, it kept happening.

After Nurit left, I kept  having chance meetings with a friend from the Paratroops.  He was an aspiring musician who wanted to compose classical music. I invited him to come live with me as I had given up on the idea that Nurit and I should remain married. I had come to recognize that she brought out the worst of my nature and in my company she would never flourish herself, as she didn't really love me romantically, just spiritually. I was the one who talked her into believing there is a God by using logic. Simply put, I told her the intelligently designing mind must be intelligently designed itself. This idea was novel to her and caused  a fundamental reassessment of her beliefs about the world. She expressed her gratitude by becoming my lover and marrying me. But she had never been in love with me the way I was with her. I made peace with our separation and after that, we resumed our friendship and she began to talk with me again.

Tsvikah David, the friend who came to live with me, brought with him a piano and a guitar. He had access to hashish which we smoked every evening, as we sang together songs I could never remember the words to,  except a very few, like "The House of The Ring Sun".

Our neighbor, Tamar, the owner of a flower shop who before this I had barely known, heard us singing and started to come over for coffee and talks. Sometimes I would hang out in  her flat. She listened to me with interest and made me feel wise.  Tsvi had friends who also came over and I had a friend of my own, Shalom from high school. We started having gatherings where we would drink vodka and smoke hashish and sing songs in Hebrew and English. As I could never remember words of others songs, I wrote some of my own and Tsvi put them to music.

For the first time in my life, I was enjoying myself day after day. I had a short somewhat sordid affair with a woman a few years older than me who I had first met when I was seventeen and she twenty two. She had tried unsuccessfully to  seduce me and we would have had sex had her brother not come home unexpectedly causing her to quickly disappear into the shower. She left her pink panties on the bed. Luckily I didn't need to do anything but pull up my pants. I sat on her panties and was holding a newspaper upsides down when her brother opened the door and turned on the light.

"Who are you?" he asked that always relevant question.

After Nurit left, I arrived unannounced and after years of no contact, at my would have been lover's home. She was there and was absolutely thrilled to see me. She came home with me that very day and I was pleased to be closing a cycle that had remained open since we had last met, never actually having consummated her failed attempts at carnal knowledge with me. Nurit had been my only lover and I was ready and even anxious to expand my experiences with an all too willing partner. Only thing is, I needed to talk a lot before actually having sex. I probably needed to talk a lot more than I needed sex, as a matter of fact and hindsight.

She became impatient. Finally, she took me by the hand and led me to the bedroom, where she discarded with her clothes swiftly and without innuendo. I did the same, sheepishly. I was still uncomfortable with my own nakedness. We got into the double bed  received as a second hand gift from my father and his wife Malcah, for my wedding with Nurit. It was a cheap "do it yourself" contraption. As Nurit and I had almost never had sex, it hadn't been exposed to much stress. The closer the moment came in which we were meant to actually have intercourse, the less I felt like doing it. I had no real feelings for the woman. My body reacted to her mechanically but I was unmoved, acting out of an exterior momentum wherein I was left behind in my inertia, unmoved and surprised by own lackluster involvement. I knew very little about myself. I didn't know that I could only feel passion for a woman I really loved deeply or a prostitute. Soon enough the moment arrived for me to get on top and make entrance. I mounted her somewhat reluctantly, feeling I simply don't want to disappoint her and I have no acceptable explanation for my lack of any real desire. She was by any standard an attractive young Yemenite woman of 26 or so, I don't know exactly.

As I moved forward to enter her, the bed collapsed, fell on the floor from our combined weight being on one side. We both exhaled a shout but she wouldn't relent. And I went through with what I had started to do, despite the mishap. Once actually doing it, I got more involved and we went at it for quite a while. A couple of hours later, after fruit and some wine, we actually had a decent talk. I told her about my failed marriage and she told me about  her difficulties in staying with one man. She was always being attracted by someone new.

She became obsessed with me, wanted to see me far more than I wanted to see her. I told her and it was very true, that I am still  much in love with my soon to be divorced wife. That my heart is unavailable. Instead of this discouraging her as it certainly would have discouraged me, had the situation been in reverse, she seemed ever more insistent on spending time with me. She knew I was already making alimony payments, that I had very little money and she tried to push money into my pockets and always came with groceries. The relationship  ended when after a few months, I moved out of the flat to take a temporary job in Jerusalem as a youth counselor for a group of South Africa Jewish Children, here on a tour of the country.

Accompanying the kids were a married couple, the wife a psychiatrist and her husband a teacher at the Hebrew Day school the kids attended, a High School. He smoked pot and once in a while invited me to share a joint with him as we moved around the country. The wife liked to talk to me as I was a very good listener for attractive woman talking about themselves. It was my relationship with her that brought this to my own attention. I realized just how good a listener I must have been when she confided in me that she had had an incestuous relationship with an elder brother. And even her husband didn't know this. Her husband and brother knew each other.

It was more information than I wanted to know. I immediately felt burdened and I couldn't get what she told me out of my mind. What was it about me that had given her such confidence to confide in me when I knew myself to be unequipped to remain a good listener after this? Now I needed someone to confide in myself and there wasn't anyone at all around to fulfill such a need on my part. There never was.  I then started talking nervously whenever we were alone, not giving her a chance to tell me more than I had already heard. And finally I heard myself saying," Let's say a person has a secret from everyone, that they have been having sex with their own brother. You are a psychiatrist! How do you think that would make them behave?" I couldn't believe what I heard exiting my own mouth. She looked at me long and hard and then remembered she had something or another to do. She abruptly stopped inviting me for coffee, cake and a talk and I regretted terribly what I had said, what I had done and had not a clue what made me do it. I missed our talks very much. But there was no fixing what I had broken.

Just before this, Nurit and I had been officially divorced and we made an agreement between ourselves concerning alimony and my visitation rights with our daughter Ruti, who was a couple of months over a year old, completely dismissing our lawyers. We began to have spiritual conversations like those we had had before we got married. We were confidants when we met on my visits to Ruti and I still felt very attracted to her, still much in love. But I had nothing but best wishes she would continue her life without me and find a man she could really love the way I loved her.

Nurit invited me to accompany her on a trip to friends for the Purim holidays. She wanted us to hear together the reading of the scroll of the Purim story, about how God saves the Jews in  a series of significant coincidences, without there being any outright miracles and without even mentioning the name of God in the whole story. I was happy to be with her, but soon very concerned about her state of mind. She was euphoric, telling me she had met someone and was in love deeply and for real after spending just an evening with the guy. He was someone she had known in high school and she had had a crush on him but nothing came of it then. Now they had spent most of a night together. Nurit lived with her parents and Ruti and so there was no problem for her to leave Ruti asleep and go out with someone. Rachel, Nurit's mother, did much of the taking care of Ruti.

Nurit spoke uncharacteristically of her feelings and I was riveted. She went on and on and I of course thought how unaware she must be of how painful it was for me to hear her describe what it was like for her to make love to this... stranger. I warned her to lower her expectations, thinking cynically that of course he would have sex with her! Who wouldn't? It was true that many men found Nurit to be attractive. Eventually she was to sleep with most of my significant male friends. It was just three months after our official divorce and here she was saying she had fallen in love with someone else. I wasn't just skeptical. I was deeply worried about her and about my daughter.  Her eyes shined and she was more exuberant than I had ever seen her.

We parted and a couple of  weeks passed before I saw her again. Her relationship with the man had ended quickly. He stopped returning her phone calls. She told me why. " I told him about you!" she said with a knowing smile. My whole body stiffened but I told myself it was her right to share her own past with whoever she liked, even if it meant the deserved ruin of my reputation. I was sure she had told him that I had beat her.
"I told him you are The Messiah!" she said gleefully. "I know you don't even know yet, but its true!"
I was completely taken by surprise and shocked into disbelief of what was happening.  I knew she wasn't joking. Nurit's sense of humor was completely literal  and she never told jokes, just things that amused her. My previous fears concerning her state of mind were realizing. She was delusional and her eyes were shining in newfound fervor.
" I tell everyone I meet!" she said. "That's what I am meant to do, to tell the world that the time of our redemption has come and you are The Messiah."
She was ironing and we were alone in the apartment with Ruti, who was fast asleep. Nurit was beautiful. In my eyes she was always beautiful, but in a deeply self enraptured way. Men would fall in love with her while watching her dance, alone with her eyes closed. Something so softly feminine and self contained was a challenge to masculinity. Now her beauty was shining out of her countenance, her skin glowed. She was as if on fire, yet subdued at the same time, somehow patient and waiting for the miracle she was absolutely certain must be just around the corner. I didn't know what to say so I said, "Nurit, you know very well how many times I hit you. That's why you left me! How can I be anyone's messiah, anyone's prince of peace?"
"None of that matters." she replied. "You have suffered greatly and you are in much pain because you are The Messiah. So you can understand what its like." She was adamant. Nothing I said made any difference, finally she just shook her head and told me to leave.  "You'll find out!" she said. "But it is going to hurt, hurt a lot more than it already does. You 'll see. In the end, everything will happen just as it is meant to and you will know, you are The Messiah! Now Go!"
I left, confused and worried sick. I had never, never said anything like this to her. I swear this before the Heavens and The Earth, before God Almighty. I had never entertained such an idea about myself. Oh, when I was a child there was a time when I believed my brother Daniel is the messiah and I would  berate myself for not being willing to die for him, to die preventing his death should a murderer break into our room. These were the kind of thoughts I frequently had as a child. Never self flattering. Always painfully honest.  

 I called a few days later and Rachel, Nurit's mother answered the phone. "Nurit isn't here." she said. I asked when Nurit would be home and Rachel told me she doesn't know. No one knows when Nurit is coming home. She is in the psychiatric hospital where they took her on the family doctor's advice, after Nurit insisted despite any reasoning to the contrary, that I am The Messiah.

I rushed to the hospital, leaving behind all obligations, which fortunately were few. The South African youth were returning home. The hospital is called Nes Tsiyona or "Miracle of Zion."
It took me a while to appreciate the irony. The town Nurit lived in is called Rishon Letsiyon, or First of Zion, that would of course be The Messiah. Truly me, as things were to work out about forty years later.

When I got to the hospital, Nurit was sitting cross legged on her bed, surrounded by patients and staff. She was reciting poetry from her heart in a mesmerizing sing song voice. Nothing anyone had ever heard before. It was about the coming glory of the redemption, when everything would shine with the light that comes from within. When she saw me, she laughed and introduced me. "Here he is! He doesn't know this himself. Let me introduce him. My ex-husband, the father of my daughter, Jonathan, The Messiah of Israel !"

Hearing this, the party ended and everyone went their way. We were left alone. Nurit didn't want to hear me deny what she said. She told me to shut up or leave. I shut up. That night I slept on the floor by her bed. I kept hoping it would pass just like it started. But it didn't. I left, showered and came back. I spent all the time I could with her. The doctors said it could go on for a long time. Yes. there were new medicines but even then it might take a year for her to recover, if at all. They said she was very sick. Me she told of visions that she saw. She spoke of how beautiful the world really is but no one can see because they don't have faith that God is Good. They gave her powerful sedatives and in a few days she became more quiet, subdued and docile. She started to agree that she wants to go home to Ruti. In a couple of weeks she agreed that maybe I am only her messiah, maybe she should put up barriers in her mind and stop  insisting on things she realizes no one else will ever believe. This was the substance of conversations we had together as we walked the grounds. Once we lay on the grass next to each other and she pointed out to me that a tree trunk looked like a couple making love. "God always has sex on his mind. Like you. " she said.

She started to go ever more silent. She started to complain that she can't feel anything. And then she  dived into a deep, deep depression.  I visited her as often as I could, several times a week. I brought Ruti to visit her. The doctors finally let Nurit come home on weekends. I spent some of these weekends with her. She was heavily sedated with Halidol. Her hands and legs twitched. She gained weight. She often said she feels like a piece of wood. Months went by. I got used to Nurit being in the hospital and though I knew I still loved her, I had determined to continue my life without being obliged in any way to being faithful to her.

   I had returned to working for security at the airport. I rented rooms which were in dilapidated buildings, once sharing a flat with a holocaust survivor whose wife was also at an insane asylum. She would come to his room on weekends and it would happen that I came home, after a Friday twelve hour shift at the air port, and find him in my bed because he couldn't sleep with his wife in his. He had a single bed. I had a double. His name was Max. He began to like me, I guess, after I didn't complain about his invasion of my privacy. He would make us espresso on these Saturday mornings, with toast and jam.

 I had a girlfriend who knew perfectly well about my relationship with Nurit. She had been Tsvi's girlfriend before me but left him to be with me and that ended for a while, our friendship. But we renewed it soon enough. Before I had stolen Tsvi's girlfriend, he had stolen the heart of a girl I was interested in, solely based on the idea that if I wanted her, she must be worth knowing. He had a girlfriend and seduced the object of my romantic intentions, anyway. Tit for tat wasn't beyond my moral calculations when it came to trying to resolve my relentless emotional solitude, my loneliness.

Nurit and I started to go to movies. We sat in coffee  shops. I invited her to a flat I had rented with the same girl who Tsvi had stolen the heart of , Irit.  Irit  and I were lovers for a short while, anyway. I had won a pair of airplane tickets to Eilat and invited her to accompany me, as I lingered by her side as I did my rounds at the airport. She worked there, too. She agreed with no hesitation. I used to stop and ask girls questions like, "Do you believe in God? Answer me when I next come around." Irit and I conducted extended conversations like  this. We had a lot of fun and became excellent friends. Irit was very good to me. She paid the rent in advance at the apartment we rented  together, as I was always broke due to alimony.

Nurit came to visit me for a weekend, with Ruti, our daughter. We went to the amusement park together and had a splendid time. Nurit was in unusually animated spirits. She spoke of coming out of a cloud. Ruti fell asleep in my bedroom and Nurit and I made love in the living room. It was very tender, very loving. It was better than any time I could remember from the first time we had ever made love. Nurit was suddenly affectionate with me. Her body was pliant, soft and then determinedly responsive. I lost interest in finding someone else to love. My love for Nurit was rekindled and it occurred to me that what I really wanted to do was be with her and Ruti, forever. But I did have doubts. It seemed an unsound idea to want to return to Nurit, after all that had happened, in the hope of making her happy, in the belief she could make me happy, now. After a while of contemplation, I decided I would first go to America and make enough money to come back and if I still wanted and she wanted to, Nurit and I would remarry and raise Ruti together, perhaps have some more children. It was a very hypothetical path to happiness. The world seemed so bleak without Nurit and Ruti. What was I to do? I had to save for a plane ticket but where would I go, where would I work, how would I make enough money to come back and afford an apartment, then find a new job in Israel?
Then some things happened that gave me no choice but to carry out my very skimpy plans.

First, I got fired. I missed a day at work and told the truth the next day when I showed up,   I simply didn't feel like coming to work and I simply didn't feel like lying and calling in sick. I was told I could finish my contract which ended in another six weeks but just couldn't look at another trash can for bombs again. I was suddenly, completely and utterly and inexplicably fed up with the job.  Despite this, there  was some kind of mistake and I got paid for over two months in advance. I quickly took out the money and closed the account. Then I had had a deposit of some  six hundred dollars from my  wedding money which I was allowed to keep for myself. I had withdrawn four hundred dollars over the preceding months for rent and expenses. I  came to the foreign currency clerk and asked for the cash value of the full amount of my account, without mentioning a sum which I expected to be about two hundred dollars.The clerk gave me six hundred. I counted the money quickly, left and immediately bought a ticket for New York City.

My sister Suzannah invited me to start off by staying with her and her husband and two children in Sharom, Mass. They had a big enough house and  my sister's husband not only smoked hash, he dealt in it. I accepted her offer with no idea what I would do, where I would live, how I would make enough money to save up for Nurit and Ruti. It was the winter of 1979-1980. I shoveled leaves than snow for some neighbors. There wasn't much to do. One day my sister hands me the phone and it is my mother Joan on the other side. I hadn't spoken to her for over twelve years. I didn't consciously want to have anything to do with her, but later I understood that seeing her was probably the main reason I had gone to the United States. She lived in Texas with the same man she had left my father for. She had two new sons, my half brothers. We had exchanged a few letters and in her last she had complained that I write her negative things about how I feel. This was while I was married with Nurit and I dimly understood that my violent outbursts might have something to do with the denial of the anger and protest I had felt concerning my mother's adultery. No excuse, mind you.

We had but only one conversation and I  decided I would try my luck in New York City. I would go there and rent a room, find a job, work hard and save money and go home as soon as I could. I was very homesick. I hated America. I missed Nurit, whose letters became more and more optimistic. She wrote of  suddenly having new pink glasses on and the world was full of opportunity. She wanted to do courses and get a job herself. Ruti was precocious and a delightful child, very wise for her tender age. I got a room at the old YMCA for what was then I believe, 35 dollars a night. I very much enjoyed the New York breakfasts, with orange juice and coffee, toast and two bulls eye eggs for 1.99 or 2.99, I don't recall which, only that it seemed very cheap!

I found a hotel room that could be rented on a weekly and monthly  basis. There were many small cockroaches beneath the sink and the wall paper was stained and peeling off the wall. It was cold and wet outside and I was happy to have found what might be an affordable room, if only I could find a decent job.  I worked one day at a telemarketing business, trying to sell salt to melt the snow off the driveway of homes in Phoenix Arizona, where it never ever snows. I am not kidding.  There was a script you recited at whoever answered the phone, where you apologized for the  gift you had sent not yet arriving. I was appalled and walked out after a few hours of elevating frustration and angst. What a world!  How could I ever survive?

I walked the streets aimlessly, went to movies I couldn't afford. I went to peek shows on 42nd street and masturbated. I turned down offers from countless prostitutes, respectfully and with a little thrill that I was being talked to by a woman. I entered brothels and asked for their terms of engagement but with no intent to actually buy any sex. Once I got a job for a few hours helping an old man move wooden displays and statues and framed pictures, I thought they might give me a permanent job  but no, I got twenty dollars and a heartfelt thank you, that's it.

And then my mother called. She had gotten my number from my sister who was worried about me. My mother told me to come out to Huston Texas and she would help me find a job. She told me that she and her family were about to move into a new home as her husband had found a new high paying job as a jewellery sales manager. At the time, Huston was booming. Joan was working herself in an art retail gallery. She was insistent and told me she had a place for me to stay and I needn't worry about rent. I surrendered to what suddenly seemed inevitable and booked a flight to Huston. My mother told me she wouldn't be able to pick me up the first night of my arrival and that I needed to spend a night at an airport hotel. Twelve years since I had last seen her for half a day. 14 years since she had sent me and my siblings away with no explanation. 17 years since I had found her sitting on a stranger's lap in the middle of the night and she had walked away from me into her bedroom, followed by her lover, with him being the one to say that she had a headache and I should go back to bed.

   That night, knowing I would see her after all this time, after all these events of growing up without her, after being sent away again and again, I was washed over with feelings of inexplicable bliss. The very idea that she was so physically near, when contemplated, caused waves of  never before experienced emotional equilibrium. It made no sense. But that's what I felt. I didn't know that she hadn't told her husband that I was coming, that they had an agreement not to renew relationships with their children from their respective former marriages.

 When I saw her, the first thought that entered my mind on seeing her, was that she had aged. She had wrinkles around her eyes. She looked at me with what seemed like an aloof smile.  I think we exchanged a perfunctory hug and kiss. I felt suddenly quite numb. She looked me up and down with a frown. I was wearing red paratrooper army boots. They weren't polished. My clothes were creased and I was I guess, quite unkempt. She smiled persistently, but was obviously displeased with my appearance.

We went to buy clothes and shoes which she paid for, which made me feel some hope that she would take care of me. As immature as this thought was, it brought me satisfaction to think that she would take care of me as I had deserved to be taken care of when she hadn't. She bought me lunch. Then she drove me to the home she was in the process of packing away for moving. Her son was playing on the walkway leading to the door with a ball. He knew nothing of me or who I am, certainly not that I am  his older brother.  I felt a wave of affinity for him and as I walked by him, I playfully tipped his base ball hat down  over his eyes. He smiled and yelled, "Hey!",  following me into the house as I followed our mother. It seemed that my mother had a way of not explaining there is an elephant in the room.

 After whatever she did at home, she drove me to the man whose apartment she had arranged a room in for me to stay at, until I found my own way. As she was driving us, her son suddenly said that he feels as if I am like a brother. My mother threw a quick glance at me and then back at her son. She almost crashed into the car ahead of us.

The relationship between the young man I was to stay with, and my mother, was an unknown I decided not to think about. He was good looking, clean shaven and well dressed. In an attempt to find common ground over a dinner I bought him on my mother's instructions, he told me he was a veteran and he had been a helicopter pilot. I was impressed. I don't remember what he did for a living. He wasn't a Jew and I helped him decorate a Christmas tree. Once he took me out to meet friends. I had a few margaritas and sang along when someone played the piano. They sang Hava  Nagila for me. The girls seemed to like me and expressed a sincere desire to see me again. Oddly, my host seemed displeased with all of this.  He never invited me out again.

Once he left me alone for a weekend. I was so lonely I ached relentlessly. My mother had me come for weekends sometimes to baby sit or help her husband do things in their new house. He had made peace with my being there but my mother remained super aloof and unwilling to discuss in any depth our mutual past or her decisions. She told me she had had a lot of guilt to deal with and went to therapy. She had been afraid during her new pregnancies that she would be punished for her past and her children would be born cripples. On the weekend I was left alone, I spoke to her on the phone. She told me outright that she was of  a cold heart and her light was all of a cold  nature. She said any expectations I had from her for warmth would only lead to disappointment. She also told me that she thought me one of the wisest people she had ever met, but I was wasting my life like a hippy.  When I hung up, I felt devastated. I needed to escape somehow from what I felt but I had no hashish, not even alcohol and I wasn't a drinker. The  guy I was staying with had some playboy magazines and I tried to distract myself by masturbating. If I recall correctly, I left a stain on his blanket.

Sometime later that evening, there was a phone call and a young female voice was on the other end of the line. She asked for my host and I told her he was away for the weekend. She asked me who I am and we talked a while. She sounded a little drunk. Finally, she asked me if I want to have a few drinks with her. We could get a few bears and wine coolers and we could go over to her place. She offered to pick me up. I agreed. I felt somewhat guilty for  entangling myself in my host's life. And then I somehow managed to break the glass in the door of the kitchen, just before being picked up. This was to trouble me for the duration of the evening and night. When the woman arrived, she was much more older than I would have thought from her seductive silky voice. I showed her the broken glass and she said not to worry, she would help me fix it. We would buy alcohol and go to her place, hang out and I could spend the night there. The next day we would fix the broken glass before my host got home.

   I began to regret going with her before we had left. I had nothing else to do and going with her seemed the less of two evils. She was slightly slurred in her speech on the phone and was no better when she arrived. Her breath smelled of alcohol. We drove to a  store and she got wine coolers and bears. I told her I rarely drink and prefer to smoke marijuana, hoping she might have some and that would ease my angst. But she didn't. We arrived at her apartment which was small and  plush. We lay down on a thick carpet and she told me stories like how she once had sex with five men at the same time. I wanted to feel horny but I didn't. She offered to take care of me, invited me to live with her, said she would buy me clothes and take me to restaurants. I thought,  here, God has brought me  a soul even  lonelier than I am.

I ended up sleeping alone under a soft blanket and put my erection to rest by staining the blankets again.

The next day we had a full breakfast and then went and  badly measured the space in the door of the broken door. The piece of glass we bought and tried unsuccessfully to replace the broken pane with, was too small. I was left to deal with my host and the damage I had inflicted on his property. When he came home that afternoon, he seemed nonplussed about my accident. He said it was OK, and he would handle it himself. He wouldn't even charge me for the repair. I told him about the woman  who had called and that we had spent time together. He said something kind like, "I am glad you didn't have to be alone."

Then my mother called to tell me she had found a high paying job for me in the oil drilling industry. I could be interviewed for the job in a town some 90 miles south of Huston. Another male acquaintance of  hers was doing her a favor by promising me a job I was severely unqualified for.  I took the bus and got off in the center of town. I had an address and someone gave me directions as if I had a car, which of course I didn't. It wasn't complicated, it was just far. It was winter but it was southern Texas. I was wearing a jacket and it became  hot under the sun as I walked and walked down some never ending road with my suitcase.  After a few hours I arrived at the number of the street I had in the address. I had been told on the phone to come on a certain day, at any hour. The interview took no more than fifteen minutes, if that. I walked back all the way to the center of town and went to a kind of hotel which was a multi roomed great old house, where I called the business and left my address so that I could be picked up the next day for my first day of work. Pickup time was 5:45. work to start at 6:00 for a 12 hour day.

 I had not bought work boots yet. I don't know what had happened to my army boots. I was wearing the shoes my mother bought me after she had picked me up. I am sure there is irony here. The work day started and I was in daze. It is extremely dangerous work and one can easily lose a finger if one day dreams while drilling one pipe after another into a hole in the ground. It took real team work, a coordinated effort of people who had to be synchronized in their cooperative efforts. There was someone there watching out for me and he would slow things down when I needed to reorient myself in the series of motions I was meant to do. I have always been a clumsy person. I never did well at sports. After a while, we took a break. Someone came to visit with an M-16 rifle and showed it off by aiming at birds in a nearby marsh and shooting. It makes me severely nervous. I had once shot someone with an M-16 by accident and the picture of the gaping wound and subsequent gush of blood was always close to the surface of my mind. I hid my discomfort the best I could. I was asked if I had any experience with such a weapon and if I had been in the Israeli army.  I said I had been a paratrooper and  they asked if I had ever shot anyone. I didn't tell them "Yes, by accident".  I said I hadn't and I hope I never have to. Such a sentiment wasn't endearing to them.

We went back to work but instead of working with the rig team on the drilling, I was told to clean up the yard which wasn't really very dirty. They all stopped working and someone yelled at me to get the shovel and put it in the shed. The shovel was discarded aside on a grass-less patch of  brown earth ten or fifteen meters away. I stepped in the direction of the shovel and found myself sinking to my knees into deep mud. Everyone thought this funny and I understood that I had been set up.

 The evening was coming on and the work day was nearing its end for the day. The manager told me to climb the ladder and untie a rope that was at the top of the  three story rig above the drilling apparatus. My shoes were covered in mud as were my pants to the knees. There was a robust  evening wind blowing and despite being a paratrooper, I had a normal fear of heights which I had overcome because I was part of a group that had been trained to jump despite fear.  I flat out refused to take the climb, explaining I hadn't proper shoes. They all just shrugged and the climb turned out to be unnecessary.

The next day they didn't pick me up and I understood that they never would only after hours of being told by the office, "They're coming soon, wait, they're coming soon."

I took the bus back to Huston and quickly found an apartment and a nearby job at a  department store, after passing a lie detector test despite having lied that I  had never stolen anything. Then I found another job for the evenings, in a drug store, several nights a week. I started to accumulate savings.
One day I was positioned in a booth at the exit of the department store and it was my job to check if employees had receipts for merchandise they were leaving with. A  very large police officer came into the enclave from the parking lot outside and leaned on the wall beside my booth. "What's your name?" he asked with a friendly smile. In the ensuing conversation I told him I am from Israel and his reaction took me by surprise and warmed my heart. "So you're  Jew from Israel" he exclaimed. "Wow! What an honor!" and he shook my hand.

He was, what is called, a "born again" Christian and he believed the Jew's return to Israel is a sign that Jesus is coming soon to redeem the world. We had long conversations and he shared with me the story of his personal salvation and why he had given his heart to Jesus who had taken away all his guilt and pain. He told me Jesus is a living spirit who gave His life to save mankind from the consequences of sin, that Jesus suffered and died as a friend of mankind, He was The Son of God! He didn't tell me anything I hadn't hear before, but I was impressed by the strength of his convictions. I told him that while I respected his faith and am glad for him he found peace of mind, I am a Jew and I don't accept the stories in the New Testament as truth.  I had never read the "new" testament, but I was completely taken by the songs and music from the Broadway play "Jesus Christ, Super Star". I used to listen to the record repetitively and the struggles of Jesus and Judah were so alive within me I could easily have been either, I thought. But the whole story of Jesus is founded on the mistranslated   word עלמה almah in Hebrew which means "young woman" and never used to mean virgin. And the verse is taken out of context. It refers to an event  that was happening at that time, when the prophet sleeps with another woman, a prophet too, a young woman, and she will have a son, etc, etc. Prophets live strange lives no one else can understand but prophets, like me.

 Ironically, the Hebrew word עלמה can be broken into על and מה which mean, "About What?" as if to say, "This is what you base a whole religion on?"

He came over to my flat with his Bible and we went at it for a heated conversation that lasted several hours. I was completely unmoved by his arguments and he was shaken by mine. He was a little red in the face when he finally said, "I will no longer try to save you. You twist the verses like Satan would. I will pray for your soul!"

At the same time I met a very sweet  young  Catholic woman who was also excited I was from Israel. She wanted to learn Hebrew and I offered to teach her. She came over to study with me and she listened to me tell her the story of my life with a compassion and care I was much in need of. She didn't try at all to sell me Christianity. There was nothing at all romantic about our mutual affinity and respect. She also told me I should go home as soon as possible to my wife and daughter and with this I heartedly agreed.

Just after this, a woman who worked with me at the drug store gave me a joint. I hadn't smoked marijuana for months and I was thrilled she shared with me  this way. She simply asked if I smoke pot and when I said yes, she took the joint out of her pocket and gave it to me with a smile, out of the blue. It was Friday and I had the next day off. The first thing that entered my mind was to buy some pornography, magazines, and spend time high, jerking off with the porn. The magazines were expensive so I got just one on my way home and being tired, I went to sleep that night with the thought that the next day would truly be a day of getting off.

I got up in the morning and had breakfast and coffee, taking things slowly, savoring each moment of anticipation, feeling I had a treasure to spend on quality time with myself and my mind. I had no furniture at all, just the bed I slept in. But there was a carpet and I lay down on the floor with the magazine and the joint and matches and an ashtray. I lay on my back and lit the joint, taking a deep breath of smoke into the bottom of my lugs with great expectations of released tension. I could see pictures of naked women in the corner of my eye and the pleasures of lust awakenned like sleeping beasts, urging me to get on with it, finish the joint, look at the nude women exposing their genitals, touching themselves and touch myself, too.

And then I heard a voice in my heart, not so much words but an idea, an inclination of the mind, "Jonathan, what are you doing?"
I couldn't believe it. The voice stopped me cold in my tracks. I lost all sexual stimulation in an instant. And this caused me a feeling of loss. The joint was very strong, I must say. But it was going to be wasted on some kind of bad trip, I feared. I looked rebelliously at the next picture in the magazine, but the voice said, "Stop! Look at yourself. Is this what you want to look like?" And suddenly I saw myself as if I was looking from the ceiling. Sprawled in underwear on the carpet with my dick exposed and the girlie magazine besides me. I felt ashamed. The picture was not aesthetically pleasing in the least.
And then the power of the marijuana to evoke images overwhelmed my mind. I saw Jesus looking down at me from the corner of  the room. A very typical looking Jesus with long curly brown hair and a shepherds staff in his hand, with soft brown eyes and a very compassionate smile on his lips.
"Jonathan, Jonathan, you are of my flock.," he said.
"You belong to me!" he commanded me with certainty.
"No way!" I replied.
"There is no way in the world that I will ever go back to my father and tell him the Christians are right and Jews are wrong. I would rather die than do that."
I shifted my gaze away from the ceiling corner with Jesus's apparition and looked down at the carpet, only to find the same Jesus now looking up at me.
"You can't run away from me forever, Jonathan. But I will leave you alone for the duration of your father's life. Your respect for your father, after all you have been through, is worthy and correct."
And the apparition disappeared.

After this, All I wanted to do was go home and marry Nurit again, be with her and Ruti. Nurit's letters came much less frequently than I would have liked. They were full of descriptions of Ruti and she told me she had come home and was looking for a job. She took medications. She wanted to move out of the apartment with her parents and was looking forward to living with me, but what would I do? What kind of job could I find?

Finally I had enough money for a return ticket to Israel, little more. I gave notice at work and was told I can leave any time I want. My mother wasn't surprised by my decision. She was critical of my life style in general. I had realized that we were completely incompatible, not only as mother and child, but as human beings. She died in my heart. There was nothing left towards her but a small residue of resentment and distrust. She had come to mean nothing to me.

I arrived back in Israel with a deep feeling of relief at being home, despite having no home to go to. I called Tsvi and he invited me to come to Jerusalem, where he had an extra room for me. I could stay as long as I needed to. He was studying there at the Music Academy. It is remarkable how good friends we were after causing each other such strong feelings of jealousy and our mutual betrayals. We always ended up laughing about everything, smoking a joint and singing songs I never remembered the words to, so I made up new ones.

I also called Nurit and we made at date to meet at the central bus station in Tel Aviv. It has been called the lowest place in Tel-Aviv. It was a noisy and dirty place to meet. I think I thought of it as being most convenient for Nurit. We could catch a bus together from there to the beach, I had planned.  I  spent the night at the apartment I had shared with Irit. She was there after having returned herself from a trip to India. She was pissed at me because I had left her some unpaid bills,  but she forgave me soon enough.

The next day, I waited for Nurit on the corner at the station. Meters away from where a perverted pedophile had once accosted me in the men's public toilet, which I could smell from where I was standing.

I wasn't happy. I saw Nurit from a distance and she was smiling brightly and waving her hand. My heart was  not lifted, to the contrary, it seemed to drop in my chest.

A quick hug. A perfunctory kiss.

"I have something I must tell you"!, Nurit said excitedly. "I am not coming back to you. I need to be independent and have my own life." She was smiling widely.


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