Sunday, November 30, 2008

No Cause to Be Alarmed.

A class on multiculturalism, and I feel open to others in new ways - porous and hungry for give and take, conscious of my limits and struggling to breach them.

Moments before the bus arrives: a phone call - just to say that there is a warning for all of Israel, so let's not go out for dinner tonight. Should I still take the bus? I don't think there's anything to worry about. OK, I'll see you later, have a good class. I hang up without saying I love you, but then wonder, laughing at myself for the thought, if this was the last goodbye.

And should I take a taxi? Should I pay? I finger my 3-month bus pass and decide to board the Number 19, regretting even as I board, and shrugging off the regret. Nothing will happen, everything seems normal.

And on the bus I pour poetry into my ears through ipod headphones, but it pools into my auditory canal without travelling further into my body. My mind rejects the sounds, and focuses my eyes.

And on the bus I stare out of the window, watching at each bus stop to see who climbs on board and asking, does he want to die? Does she want me to die? My multiculturalism articles sit on my lap and I ask myself, does he look like an Arab? Does she? And then I feel sick at myself.

And on the bus I sit in the back repeating to myself Hebrew vocab words: Explosion, Violence, Pain, and consider that if someone were to explode himself, he would probably do it at the front of the bus, and I could survive, and then hating myself for wanting to survive even if others do not.

And on the bus I make myself small, lifting my knees close to my chest, rounding my back, hugging my backpack. The young man next to me has darker skin than mine, and a big gym bag, and who knows what is inside. He takes out his cell phone and I imagine it is connected to a metal, wired contraption inside the innocent blue bag. He presses a button and I shudder. He pulls out a book in Hebrew and starts to read. I feel better.

A window bangs closed. I jump.

And at my stop, I descend quickly onto the street, and walk home as fast as I can. Are the coffee shops more empty than usual? I imagine they are, and I know they are not. And what do I do now that I am home, and safe? Am I safe at home?

Tonight is just like any other night. The bus ride was the same, the same people getting on and off, students, mostly, and the streets were the same with the discount pajama store with the nightie that I've been eyeing still in the window as I walked past. There was nothing different about tonight. No cause to be alarmed.

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