1. i cannot ignore or separate my time here as being made up of merely attempting to understand the national psyche in dealing with conflict; or not dealing with it at all as it so often seems (of which is no small task- of which finds its way into my very own psyche, pulling on every thread in my brain, every atom of thought and emotion, of which to find its way into the everyday, and to swell at the bottom of the coffee mug – grains of brown raw cane sugar – like waves of sand that picked me up and turned me upside down that finds me weeks later still plucking grains from my hair). i cannot separate the daily challenges of language and navigation, of translations and ‘difference’, of finding no solitude in my dwellings, in my movements in my thoughts. and also, i cannot ignore the acts and decisions that i make, that allow me to feel light and free occasionally; that allow me to feel fully like me anywhere in the world; and yesterday, that feeling was manifested in the form of a bicycle.
2. i think the simplicity of dot points will highlight what is needed for now
wed 03 feb:
* ate smoked tofu burrito, drank 2 x banana, date and pecan soy smoothie in tel aviv
* read chapters about honey-hunting in nepal (honey and dust, piers moore ede)
* went to jaffa to seek 2nd hand bicycle of my dreams
* sun setting, old man shutting shop, does not speak english, i spot dream bike
* i test dream bike, it’s o.k. but not perfect
* i have to make a quick decision and i bargain him to 220 shekels = $73.00 – which is by far a rip off for this bike
* but i purchase anyway
* i get on, steady, i aim for the sea.
* i feel new found joy and freedom
* i pump up tires
* front one bursts out of it’s rim
* i fix
* chain comes off
* i fix
* comes off again
* i fix
* feel light still
* lock bike, jump down rocks onto sand, take of shoes and socks, stand in sea, it’s cool but beautiful, i wash grease off hands, i look at sunset, feel newness impending.
* listen to arabic prayer through loudspeakers throughout jaffa serenading sun set over the med.
* feel slightly tacky, but enjoy it regardless
* get back on bike thinking I will ride along beachside before meeting danya
* chain comes off again, i realise it is truly busted
* soldier tries to help, another man tries to help but really just wants phone number, i say “no, don’t have one”
* roll to other bike man in jaffa, he is near closing, he’s arabic and much nicer than earlier man, we charade about bike problems, eventuating in me leaving the bike with him to come back the next day at noon, when he will have fixed it for very little money. I thank him and drink beer with danya in cute alleyway-turned bistro.
* next day i am sleepy, dazed and slightly seedy. although i had not over-drank.
* remember cute coffee shop we saw night before, make my way there just after 9am, it’s arabic run, coffee and book shop combined. chef is nice, i order museli with date honey and fruit and yoghurt, and coffee, delicious coffee of which i understood darwish’s words ‘of coffee being the first words of the day’ – or something like that.
* sat at coffee shop for 2.5hrs, finishing ‘honey and dust’, looking at chef’s laptop, he is also a photographer and we talk about palestine and the occupation and finding me a job and a place to live and he tries to help but to no avail today.
* finish book, purchase mahmoud darwish ‘memory of forgetfulness’ – which i begin later, find beautiful and grasps me, grasps my searching for words and content, prose and poetry, of palestinian experience and existence of ‘present-absent’, of beruit 1982, but of something march larger, more historical, more contemporary than that ghastly seige, that sickly massacre.
* go to nice bike man in flea market, past bustling laneways of people selling 5th-10th hand goods, old boots, electric items that should not be plugged in, carpets, clothes, books, language and laughter.
* we charade some more, using only the words “no good” and “yes, no good” – i steal a passer by to translate that i will go and demand my money back from not nice man down the road and come back to nice man to buy bike, he likes this idea, i go down to not nice man, demand money back, make a fuss, get money shoved in hands and pushed away.
* return to nice man, purchase beautiful old raleigh racer, in good condition, for the same price, well 250 shekels, he gives me borek, says come back any time, i’ll fix it – i feel joy again, a real joy, of a bike that works and takes me all the way along the seashore where telavivians are sunning themselves on a warm winters day next to the ocean and people are chatting and consuming and all has a tune of lightness this day, and i ride all the way to ra’anana, via a few wrong turns, a scary deathly highway experience and a joy of using my body for transportation and love that i love. it’s 31km’s but seems to take all afternoon, which i love some more. arriving back at the rabinovich’s late afternoon to warm up some dhal, eat fruitsalad and drink chicory tea, and open the pages of Darwish which touch my vessels so articulately i feel like some sort of opening in this work i am making, in these thoughts i am thinking and learnings i am having, and in the output which will be coming soon.
an ode to the bicycle.
the small joy of two wheels and freedom.