“Five minutes before taking this selfie, I’ve been sitting in a taxi in Tel Aviv. Going from south to north. Crying my eyes out on the backseat, while the driver, a friendly Moroccan Israeli, whose aftershave smelled like cinnamon, tried to avoid eye contact with his sobbing passenger. An utterly unusual circumstance, since as a rule, taxi drivers in Israel are naturally equipped with the congenital desire to learn everything about you and your intentions within five minutes. I could tell by the pictures hanging from the rearview mirror that he has at least one daughter. Sure enough he knew why I was crying and, intelligently, remained silent.
Only a few days before I arrived in Israel, my mother’s homeland, a familiar place to me. We, he and I, wanted to give it a try. Though, contemplating our decision with more than a half-year distance, this whole thing was meant to fail. He, introverted, hesitant, indecisive. Me, an emotional whirlwind, looking for love in the very wrong places. But: it was spring in Berlin, we met a few months before in Tel Aviv, and spring in Berlin did to me what spring in Berlin does to many hearts and souls. It encourages, it uplifts, it obscures the brain.
I gave it a shot, probably talking him into something he wasn’t sure of at all. I know now that being in your early thirties, Jewish and single is not an objective state of mind. Nevertheless I booked a ticket, asked my boss to work remotely from Tel Aviv for 14 days in May and jumped, simple-hearted, onto a charter flight south-east bound. Some five hours later we met at the airport and from the second our eyes found each other among the middle eastern crowd in the arrival hall I knew that me and him is not going to happen. I just knew. But also knew myself. I’ve always been bad at clean-cuts. Not a clinger, but an overthinker. Not weak, but soft.
Tel Aviv in May, for anyone that doesn’t know, is like a fruit bowl. Like a melting pot of ice cream, not too hot, but far from cold. The right amount of sex in the air and heat on the ground. A city for singles and young families, for lovers and fighters. And I, living with the wrong man in his apartment, didn’t fit in any of the drawers. My stomach hurt, my brain worked on maximum speed. It felt wrong and I had to finally (wo)man up. So after four nights and four mornings I told him: Listen, you and me, nah-ah. He reacted just like I expected him to react: introverted, hesitant, indecisive and, polite as he was, called me cab.
While sitting on the tatty backseat of this this old Subaru, watching the Mediterranean pass by before my eyes as he took us smoothly through Tel Aviv’s crazy traffic, the realization of yet another failed try overcame me like a wave. So I cried and cried. I cried while we arrived at my AirBnb, I cried while I paid, I cried while he placed my suitcase on the sidewalk. And I sure cried when I realized I forgot my most favorite sunglasses in his car.
The street, palm-fringed and small, smelled like cat piss, Oleander and saltwater. Without protecting my eyes I blinked into the sun, inhaled deeply a few times and, somehow, let go of expectations.
Celebrating my freckles, a clean-cut and 10 further days of intentional soleness.”