I’ve finished the memoir I’ve been working on intensively over the past three years and less intensively over the past thirty-three, but I’m still playing with titles. I’m up to thirty-three possible titles, one for each year. My goal is to reach fifty and if the book does not find an agent and/or publisher by then, I will write a short piece about the fifty titles. That, surely, will find a home. Stringing along with titles is my way of dragging out the process of letting go of the memoir, which is about—no surprise here—letting go.
I could have written a doctoral thesis during the past thirty-three years, reviewing all the literature about LG. I could have become a neuro-surgeon or a computer engineer or a painter or an Egged bus driver. Instead, I climbed down ladders into my psyche and described scenes along the way, as one might document the descent at Wadi Daraja overlooking the Dead Sea.
Sometimes you fall into a pool of refreshing water. More often you scale the edge of a cliff, going down, breathless, towards the Dead Sea. Each time you complete the descent and walk out of the wadi in one piece, you feel emboldened. That’s how I felt after I completed each chapter of my memoir: strengthened, secure, accomplished, my self-esteem rising to several centimeters above the Dead Sea.
Another metaphor for finishing the memoir is having turned myself inside out. In this writerly acrobatic act, what gets dropped onto the page are tears, sweat, blood and guts. No wonder I’m thinking about a vacation.
So much has happened since I finished my memoir. I’m relearning the vowels with Imri, my newest grandson, who is almost three months old and lives in Tel Aviv. I have decided to move to that city so that I will see this grandson and his older sister more than twice a week and so that my trip to Haifa to visit my three grandchildren there will only be 90 minutes instead of three hours.
Moving to Tel Aviv might be as scary as writing a memoir or descending Wadi Daraja, but I am up for the challenge. Why? Because I’m turning seventy (!?!) next week and my own mother, may she rest in peace now that the eleven months of mourning are over, moved from Cleveland to Sarasota when she was seventy. If she could make a move from cold Cleveland to hot sticky weather at seventy, I can leave the Judean hills for the damp coast. I can’t wait to live my life using my legs as the sole means of transportation, plus the occasional train or bus. Good-bye car; hello bike.
I can’t wait to watch the ocean open up into the sky in all its glory and at the same time open up something inside me. I want to fly into the sunset. In Beit Zayit I do not have a sunset, only stars, vineyards, trees, birds, jackals, hills, and an annoying cemetery beckoning opposite my living room window. Its persistent whisper Nu? Nu? make me want to run away into the land of flip-flops and tank tops before those whispers morph into demands.
In Tel Aviv I will recreate The Writing Pad, which has become a necessary venue on the Anglo Israeli writing scene for so many grateful writers and teachers. I’m looking forward to this challenge and to hosting my Jerusalem writer friends in the flat city of Bauhaus and cockroaches.
Meanwhile, the whole world is changing: gay marriages are in, the Confederate flag is out and ISIS is salivating on our borders. Change is in the air and I am joining the fray. In Tel Aviv I will complete my next three books, which, at my pace, should be ready for publication in 2048, just in time for Israel’s centennial and my own 103rd!