I have to say it. Jerusalem might just be the best city in the world. For the most part, I’ve been nonchalant about my stay in Israel. I’ve been enjoying my internship, learning a lot and taking advantage of being in Israel to travel on the weekends. Then yesterday, when I realized there might be a problem extending my visa, I was sad… The sadness took me completely by surprise. When did I start deciding I wanted to be here? And then I realized, it was after my first trip to Jerusalem.
An acquaintance of mine here wrote a blogpost about Jerusalem, comparing the city to a girl you don’t notice at first, but as soon as you do, you’re in love. He is absolutely right. I agree. You know that feeling you get when you have a crush on someone? When an interest is starting to develop and all you can think of is that person? When thinking of the person and the next time you will see him/her you get butterflies in your stomach? That is how I feel about Jerusalem. The rest of Israel has been eclipsed by Jerusalem. Before, there were 101 sites I wanted to see, now there’s just one: Jerusalem. Maybe I’ll get bored of it in time, used to it, but for the time being I am in love with Jerusalem.
That is why, when two friends from Tel Aviv texted me about Jerusalem last weekend, I jumped at the chance to go. I drove up with my beloved ex-roommate, her boyfriend and her friend to attend a protest. Despite what the police said, I was there, there was far more than 500 people who attended. A co-worker told me his friend put the number at 4,000. In any case, it was a great rally, a long walk in the sun, and good fun. Following that, I met with another acquaintance, a Czech photographer and journalist (you can see more of his work here and here) for dinner in West Jerusalem, followed by meeting with another friend from Tel Aviv and his friends for a second dinner (I love food). The Czech photographer and I then headed to a bar in West Jerusalem that had been shut down, but because he knew someone there who was chummy with the owner, we were allowed in for drinks through the back. I’m not a metal-head, and it’s a metal bar (I am deliberately keeping the name anonymous as it’s not supposed to be functioning), but it was good fun. Drinks were strong, people were funny, and I had a fascinating conversation with a young guy who left Orthodox Judaism at age 15. I ended up sleeping at the house of my friend’s friend about 20 minutes from Jerusalem proper.
The following morning, hungover and exhausted, I caught a cab into Jerusalem and rushed to meet the friend from the night before. We walked into the Old City for brunch (hummus here is sooooo good) before I met up with my new Arab friend from the last post. The Tel Avivians (goodness, keeping this anonymous is getting complex) went on their way, and the young Jerusalemite and I sat on the ramparts of the Old City overlooking Jerusalem and talked. Once again, he is passionate about sports and I realized how deeply ingrained in my personality being an amateur anthropologist has become because I was fascinated – not just by sports itself, but his perspective on sports, on the world in relation to sports, the facilities he’s seen (he found a well-equipped gym), and how his unique situation has contributed to such an outlook. We wished each other farewell and he invited me, once again, to his gymnastics show this coming weekend (should I go?) before I headed off to meet the others again and watch 3 short Spike Jonze films at the Jerusalem Film Festival (rather curious films, one excellent, one good, one I could have done without).
Following the films, we relaxed a little (good God Jerusalem is beautiful) before heading to Abu Gosh for hummus and dinner. Abu Gosh is supposed to be the best place in Israel for hummus, and by God the hummus was good 🙂
Anyway. I am now in the process of trying to extend my stay until December. To do so I need to prove that I am Jewish so my whole family is involved in trying to get the records. Hopefully they can come through, I’m not ready to stop loving Jerusalem yet.