Let’s Paint A Memory

The street is cobblestone…pretty, yet inconvenient for weary little feet and stroller wheels.

It’s been a long morning.  Breakfast was nice, sitting at an outdoor cafe on the street overlooking mountains, sipping freshly squeezed orange juice and laughing just because…and then walking along the road with all the shops, pretending to be first time tourists visiting the holy city of Tzfat as we shared the beauty of our land with our children…and now the Artists’ Quarter…narrow cobblestone streets lined with display windows where you can find intricate pieces of art, magnificent paintings… sculptures… glass work…jewelry…hand-made wonders nestled high up in a little city of art surrounded by a little land of majestic proportions that takes my breath away.

We told her about this place weeks ago.  She’s been so looking forward.  On the train, as we passed neatly plowed fields…she asked about the artists again.  And then, when the sea came into view and she had to look away because the sun hitting the endless blue was blinding, she wondered about what kind of pictures they made up on the mountaintop, way too far for an impatient five-year-old who wanted to get off the train already.  On the last leg of our journey, the bus climbing up the mountain on twisting roads as the sun went down outside the window she was pressing her nose against, she leaned back, her head resting on my shoulder, and thought about what she was going to see as she sucked her thumb and twirled her hair around and around her little finger until her eyes closed and she fell asleep.

And now, here we are…and she’s tired…because she walked so much…and because she didn’t have her own bed to sleep in last night…and because she’s only five and we haven’t stopped at a playground even though we said we would…

Her little feet drag on cobblestone.  She shrugs her shoulders when we point out all the beauty surrounding us.

Then she sees him.

It’s a small shop.  His paintings are average for this little street.

He is sitting in front of a canvas.  He is creating a small souvenir someone will purchase as a memory of their visit here.  He barely looks up when she steps in and stands behind him.

She watches him, quietly, for a long time.

I am ready to move on.  I call for her.  She is transfixed and doesn’t hear me.  But he hears and he turns to me, and to her, and sees something in her eyes he must recognize.

He smiles at her.  He holds out his brush and asks her if she would like to paint.

My little girl very slowly nods and accepts his brush.  She holds her head still as she gently presses the brush to the canvas, bringing it down ever so carefully as he looks on.  She takes a step back, ready to hand the work back to him, but he shakes his head at her and tells her to continue.  And then, stroke by stroke, my little girl paints a memory.



Her eyes are bright.  Her cheeks are flushed.  She steps back from her work with pride.  As she hands over the brush, he smiles at her again.

“You’re going to be a great artist,” he says.  And nodding knowingly at me, he adds, “I can tell…I can tell…”

Three Yellow Tractors

The hills are green this time of year, beautiful shades of green.  Pale pink blossoms are exploding on the branches of the almond trees that dot the mountains.  The grass is lush and full.  There is mud from the wonderful rain that fell.  The red poppies have just bloomed.  You can see them from our porch.  They are hard to spot, but once you zone in on them they seem to be everywhere.  The birds fly low over the valley and then soar up as they reach the incline.  The paths that run through the mountains seem to go on forever.  The colors are breathtaking.  I see green, brown, tan, pink, red…and three yellow tractors.

They came this morning.  First the cars showed up, then the tractors and then the workers.  They came with papers that looked like plans.  The men crouched on the ground and spread the land’s doom over the green.  Then they walked over the red poppies, pointing at different spots.  Then they started up the tractors.  Then they dug up the poppies…and the grass…and all I can see now is the underside of the earth that has spent the past month drinking water and preparing it’s roots for growth.

And I feel violated.

My sister looks out and remembers coming home from school one day to find my mother at the window, camera in hand, wailing in disappointment as the tractors tore down the trees and ripped apart the little yellow house that stood for individuality.  Now, my little girl cries that no one can live on our mountains.  I sip my coffee and think of the hikes we planned and how we wanted to pitch a tent in the field and have a picnic.

The yellow tractors dig and dig and I turn my back on them, enter the home I have only recently settled into, and dream of a little yellow house surrounded by almond trees and poppy blossoms on a mountain top overlooking a bright blue sea.

A dream…a wishful thought…or maybe…a tiny spark of hope.

Oh, The Places We Didn’t Go

I never, EVER, thought I would get married.

I, very vocally, believed that no one should even consider dating until they were 25.  Secretly, I thought if everyone knew that I wasn’t going to think about marriage until then, I would have time to plan my big escape.

At 25, I hoped to be on the other side of the world, possibly on a Harley, and probably in China doing acid.

Seriously, my dream.

Well, time threw me the love of my life and when we realized our dreams didn’t match, (his was to be in some dojo in Japan mastering martial arts) we compromised and got married.

I can’t say it’s been all that bad.  Two kids and lots and lots of troubles later, I’m actually warming up to the idea.

I’ve wondered about my lost dream though.

I’m 26 now.  A year past my deadline.

Had I checked out last year and disappeared, how would things have played out?

If I really look at myself honestly, the journey would have gone something like this:

Day 1:

morning – arrive in China with no money left

later that morning – realize that languages are not my strong point

still later that morning – realize there is no acid to be had in China

noon – get the hell out of China via any stowaway opportunity

afternoon – arrive in Japan

early evening – climb a mountain to find my love

evening – take his bloody, beaten body down the mountain

late evening – camp out in front of the US Embassy

Day 2:

morning – convince the official who opens the door we’re not terrorists

later that morning – concoct story involving cults and kidnappings

still later that morning – think about eating monkey brains

noon – fasten seat belts for takeoff

afternoon – arrive somewhere

early evening – get married

evening – take vow to never mention Asia again

late evening – turn 25 and two days


Child of Mine

Sometimes, in the middle of the night, she comes to me.

Curling up inside my heart, she begs me to remember her.

She wants me to smile as I watch her play.  She wants me to giggle bashfully.

She wants me to be a child again.

She is a very persuasive bedmate, and I follow her in my dreams.

We cross streams, skipping over slippery rocks fearlessly, until she laughingly reminds me not to look down.   I do, and the depths of the raging river greet my falling body with a roar.

We skip through meadows, lush and green.  She leads me over a hill, and into thin air.

She takes my hand, soft and sure.  She squeezes it tight, and I watch my purple fingers fade away.

Her arms spread out; she spins around, faster and faster, until she is but a dizzying blur and a taste of bile in the back of my throat.

Her laughter, loud, boisterous, laughter, is ringing in my ears.  It echoes in my mind, daring me to listen to her silenced voice.

I cannot breathe, for she has stolen my air.

I cannot change, for she has stolen my courage.

I cannot believe, for she has stolen my faith.

She is everything I am not, and everything I could have been.

If only she would stop coming to me.

She turns, with a smile, and waves goodbye.

And I, I with my tortured dreams, grab her wavering shadow and pull her close.

I hold her, with shaking arms, and will not let her go.

She wants me to comfort her, to stroke her hair and ease away the pain.

And this child of mine, this child of mine, I will not let her go.