Sam & Dave are keeping me company while I think about the days from October 22nd through today. Reminds me to remind others I cannot be controlled, placed in a box or just forgotten.
Reminds me that when you encounter a force of nature you can choose to fight the storm but sooner or later it will wear you out and the best you can do is dance in the fire. You can’t outrun or hide from the storm you have to go through it and that is ok.
Follow the lead of the Boss and submit and you catch the wave and ride it to shore. What a great clip huh.
Move on to Ray Charles & Glen Campbell performing live together and rolling into other thoughts and ideas, some to be shared here, some elsewhere and some no where.
I stopped at the Costco in Southlake Wednesday afternoon to pick up four items and stumbled my way into an unexpected conversation and a thousand memories.
Walking through the aisles I noticed several massage chairs and made a mental note not to let myself get sucked in and then I saw a nametag, Haim and inadvertently made eye contact.
He gestured to come over and I walked forward knowing I had found one of the few Israelis in Texas.
“Please sit. It will make your body feel much better.”
He mistook my lack of movement or response for confusion.
“I know, I have a funny accent. But I promise if you give it a moment it will be fine.”
I smiled and said his accent was fine. “מאיפה אתה, Where are you from?” He smiled and asked me in Hebrew where I was from and I said Los Angeles and answered his follow up question saying I understand speak a little Hebrew.
“You speak a lot for an American.”
I shrugged my shoulders and he told me to take off my shoes and sit in the chair. So I did.
“Are your parents’ Israeli?”
“No, but my Abba was named Orrie and everyone assumed he was. אבל הוא לא פה/but he is not here, and then added in English “Well he is sort of, those are his shoes.”
Can’t say why I felt the need to add that, though it is true. I did wear his shoes. It is not unusual for me to wear that pair to work.
He would have hated some of what I do, but he would have loved other parts of it and I guess this is one of the ways he gets to come along with me.
Haim understood what I meant and said he was sorry and we got lost in a 25 minute conversation about all sorts of stuff, Texas, Israel, BBQ, (he loves Hard Eight) and a dozen other things.
Eventually I noticed several people had gathered around. One of them told me she loved that I could speak English so well. I thanked her and said some people say I sound like was born here and she said it was true.
“You do. You sound very American.”
“That is what my Israeli friends and family say. I have a thick American accent when I speak Hebrew.”
“You sounded good to me.”
“No, but you sound like he does.”
I nodded, smiled and walked away. If you don’t know better it is easy to sound like a native.
Flashback to the Summer of ’85 and Dad’s talking to me about understanding I walk, talk and look like an American.
He is sharing stories about his time in the Peace Corps and doing his best to prepare me for the nine week trip to Israel I am about to leave on.
It is starting to grind on me. I am 16-years-old and very confident in my abilities. I am more focused on imagining what it will be like to be away from home with my friends and the adventures we’ll have.
We have heard stories for years from older siblings, cousins and friends about this trip. Everyone has told us it is life changing.
Dad wants me to be smart. “Don’t put yourself in a bad situation because you are showing off for your friends or some girls. Don’t lose sight of where you are. Neighborhoods change faster than you think and you aren’t as streetwise there or here as you think.”
He sees he is losing my attention and tells me to focus.
“Mom and I decided that instead of taking my boots we’re going to buy you a new pair”
Truth is I can’t remember if I could wear his shoes at 15 but at 16 it wasn’t a question. I was still a bit shorter than him but my foot had been a triple E in width for years and it wasn’t hard to fit into a size 11 or bigger.
I had forgotten about that conversation with him. It was lost in 36 years of life between then and now.
Where Should We Go?
Go back a chunk of years and my folks are planning their first trip to Israel. Dad is watching his grandchildren play and asking me for advice on where to go beyond the typical places.
“You need to remember that you walk, talk and dress like an American. They’re going to know you are a tourist and some of the kids will try to sucker you. Wait until they try to sell you 40 postcards for a dollar.”
He glares at me because he thinks I am messing with him. It is partially correct, I am but I am not. I have been back several times and he hasn’t been.
We had plans to go back together. It wasn’t clear exactly when we would do it, but we talked about multiple times. He wanted everyone to go together but I told him I didn’t know if that was realistic.
“That’s ok, your mother and I will be happy to go more multiple times. We have more places to visit there and places in Europe we want to see again.”
“You sound like a rich man. Did Grandpa tell you where the Wilner fortune is?”
“No, he played a dirty trick on me. I wasn’t born rich. I had to work.”
“Funny thing Dad, my grandfather said the same thing about his father. Guess I can blame you, grandpa and zaide.”
“Yep, you can. Keep at it and eventually you can retire. You’ll have time to travel. Maybe not as much as you’d like, but if you plan and save…”
We’re not going to go back together and I can’t guarantee his shoes will come with me.
I didn’t tell Haim at Costco that I had an Uncle Chaim Wilner and not because I don’t know if he escaped the Nazis. Didn’t tell him we’re not sure what happened to him.
But I mentioned the family who left Lithuania, made their way to England and then to Jerusalem.
Haim understood because it is a common tale, especially if you are in Israel. He and I could have kept talking. We could have gone to dinner and been fine, there is a common bond we shared.
Noticed the time and realized I need to wrap this up. Got this playing in my ears and am thinking about whether to take some of the most recent posts and integrating them into something longer and more layered.
Not sure yet, but we’ll see.
Sometimes you have to take a running jump off of the cliff and figure out how to fly as you go.