Legends of Heartbreak and Epiphany in Tel Aviv

An artist project by Gabriela Vainsencher, commissioned by Artis.
Performance: Monday, April 16, 2012, 7-9pm at the Phaidon Store, 83 Wooster Street, NYC

Every city I have been in exists in my head in two, superimposed maps: the first is a practical one of intersections, street names and subway stations; the other is a kind of a web, containing experiences, encounters and emotions which moved me in a way that made them, and where they happened, unforgettable. 

Legends of Heartbreak and Epiphany in Tel Aviv consists of an original, limited edition map of Tel Aviv, a public performance and an ongoing digital archive. Conceived in response to the official tourist guides of Tel Aviv, my symbolic mapping of the city contains the private moments, experiences and histories that continually reinforce and shape our connections to this unique place.

The stories on this blog (see the comment section below or  categories on the right) were contributed by anonymous writers during the months of March and April 2012. The ones written by April 4th were included in the first edition of this project.

Click on the “comments” section below to contribute your Tel Aviv story and be included in the next map of the city I produce. Make sure to include:

-Location (street names/intersection) within Tel Aviv-Jaffa

-Your story

-Category of experience. Choose from:

  • A realization that something is missing
  • An important argument
  • Beginning of a beautiful friendship
  • Being very alone
  • Crime committed
  • Defeat suffered
  • Disappointment
  • Epiphany
  • Falling in love
  • False Epiphany
  • Heartbreak
  • Life changing call/text
  • Memorable sexual experience
  • Reality shattered
  • Repressed childhood memory resurfacing
  • The moment adulthood came crashing down
  • Unexpected feeling of oneness with the universe
  • Victory achieved

Thank you!

Gabriela Vainsencher

*Stories written in Hebrew will be translated into English in the map.

33 responses to “Legends of Heartbreak and Epiphany in Tel Aviv

  1. אני באה עם הנכד שלי לשפת הים, חוף תל ברוך. הוא תינוק בן שנתיים. אני מחזיקה אותו בזרועותיי ויחד אנחנו מסתכלים על הים הענק.
    הוא מפנה אלי את המבט, אחרי רגע של שקט, ואומר לי
    “אני רוצה לשתות את הים”

  2. Anonymous

    The beach across the street from Hotel Miguel, 88 HaYarkon
    Unexpected feeling of oneness with the universe/epiphany
    November, 2011

    I am sitting alone on the beach and it is sunset. I have just spent a beautiful week visiting a friend from my Taglit trip a year earlier. We were staying at Hotel Miguel, a shady little hotel, but right on the beach. He speaks little English and I speak little Hebrew but we shared an unexplainable connection. He has left for work and I am waiting to be picked up by another friend from Taglit. As I sit on the beach I think about the wonderful friendships I formed on my previous trip to Israel. I think about how different our lives are although we are the same age. I am a senior at an American university, studying for a semester in Rome, Italy and they are just finishing the army. In one way, however, it seems that we have all arrived at the same moment in life. We are beginning a new chapter of our lives, and we are free to go wherever our hearts take us. As I sit there I have an epiphany. I think that I can do anything, go anywhere, as long as I follow my heart. At this moment, while I watch the sun set the waves on fire, I feel at one with the universe and at one with these friends with whom I shared two weeks exploring Israel. We come from different places but we are all heading in the same direction.

  3. Anonymous

    It’s Dec. 31, 1999 and I’m driving from my hometown of Jerusalem to Tel Aviv with my love.
    First destination: Nachal Binyamit, to the artist shuk. Objective: To buy a ring that symbolizes our decision to marry.
    It’s hard to find a ring my size, small enough for me that won’t look too childish. Everyone suggests that I should order one and come back next week to get it. Next week?? That will be in the next millennium!! I’ve waited over 30 years, I want a ring NOW. We went through every stall, and finally found one. There wasn’t a happier person on earth than me.
    Next desination: The Beach. It was getting late and we didn’t want to miss the last sunset of the millenium. On the Tel Aviv beach, we watched a round blazing sun descending for its last time into the sea, into the new millenium. The drum circle that had gathered on the beach sang to me a farewell song to my old life as a bachelorette, and the start of a new era.

  4. Anonymous

    Mandarin Beach, Tel Aviv
    Summer of 2002
    laying on the beach in a g-string bathing suit with my girlfriends, suddenly my dad passes jogging, and tells me to get dressed.

  5. Anonymous

    Falling in love

    Dizingoff/Gordon. June 1998. The first, or was it the third Friday night? (Once I knew.) Heading home to Frishman/Sirkin, I walk south on the east side of Dizingoff. A man passes me. We both look back at precisely the same time. Not turning to pillars of salt, he crosses the street. I follow. He looks in a store window. I look in one too. Gazith. As if our desire is something that can be bought or tried on like a pair of shoes. Nervously, I walk past him, then stop on the corner of Gordon and turn around. “Mah shlomcha?” “How are you?” he asks. I mishear the question as “Mah shimcha?” and answer with my name, revealing in an instant that I was born in another land. Six months later, I made aliyah to Israel and to him, thinking that had I done any one thing differently in my life – had I stopped – or not stopped to tie my shoelaces in the third grade – we wouldn’t have been on that street corner in Tel Aviv at the same time. Maybe we had passed each other a hundred times before. Or maybe I would have met someone else a block further south. But for the years that followed (and even walking past that junction today), the corners of my heart were filled.

  6. Anonymous

    Translation of previous TA story:
    Well, apart from Rabin’s murder and a plethora of terrorist attacks on Tel Aviv and on myself, I remember one more crime which, unlike the previously mentioned, was my doing. It was a spring afternoon, I was walking around with a friend on Dizengoff street. We had a standard hangout routine- hang out, drink juice at Tamara on Dezingoff corner of Ben Gurion, walk around Kikar Rabin a bit, comb through music and book stores, smoke on the light blue benches at Yaacob Agam’s fountain on Dizengoff… On the afternoon in question, while on our way to Kikar Dizengoff, drinking carrot-ginger-orange juice from Tamara we walked by what seemed like a new, or maybe one we just never noticed before- pet store. In the window we saw cute little hamsters in large glass cases. We walked in, to get a closer look- “cute little hamster puppies!” we said to each other and started to play with them a bit. I put my finger into the box to touch and pet them. I was very gentle with them, but suddenly, out of the blue, while I was petting them and excitedly sharing their cuteness with my friend I guess one of them got scared, or just decided to respond to my finger with animal instinct and bit me. Not realizing what the painful prick to my finger was, I pulled my hand out of the box in response to the sharp pain I felt. But this is not the tragic part of the story. The whole thing happened within a few seconds- As I pulled my finger out with instinctive panic and flung it in the air, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye the hamster, who had attached itself to my finger, getting sharply flung towards the ceiling, hitting it hard, landing with a loud thump on the floor. It seemed to recover for a moment, then looked confused and began to run around in a shocked zig-zag. It made a wrong turn and ran out of the pet store, towards the road. My friend and I watched in shock as it was run over by a car on the road in front of Agam’s fountain. The shop keeper didn’t even notice, he was busy with paying customers. Like embarrassed criminals, we said nothing. We were shocked, laughing our heads off and crying at this tragicomic scene that had just occurred. We ran out, so no one in the store would know what had just happened.

  7. Anonymous

     Crime committed-

    ובכן חוץ מרצח רבין ושלל פיגועים שעברו על תל-אביב וגם עלי,זכור לי עוד פשע אחד, שבניגוד לקודמים, בפשע הזה אני הייתי האשמה.
    זה היה אחר צהריים אביבי, הסתובבתי עם חברה שלי ברחוב דיזינגוף, היה לנו נוהג קבוע לשוטט ביחד בעיר,לשתות מיץ בתמרה בדיזינגוף פינת בן גוריון,להסתובב קצת בכיכר רבין,לסרוק חנויות ספרים ומוזיקה, לעשן על ספסלי התכלת הצמודים למזרקה של יעקב אגם בדיזינגוף…,באותו אחר צהריים, בעודנו משוטטות שותות מיץ גזר ג’ינג’ר ,תפוז מתמרה,עברנו,בדרך לכיכר המזרקה של אגם, ליד חנות חיות שנראתה לנו חדשה,או כזו שמעולם לא ראינו קודם לכן שהיא קיימת, בחלון הראווה של החנות ראינו אוגרים חמודים בתוך תיבות זכוכית גדולות, נכנסנו להסתכל בהם מקרוב, גורי אוגרים חמודים,אמרנו זו לזו והתחלנו להשתעשע איתם,הכנסתי אצבע לתיבה שבתוכה היו כדי לגעת בהם וללטף אותם ,נגעתי בהם בעדינות רבה,אלא שמשום מקום,בעודי מלטפת אותם וחולקת עם חברתי בהתרגשות את החמידות שלהם, אחד מהם ככל הנראה נבהל ממני, או פשוט החליט להגיב לאצבע שלי באינסטינקט חייתי, הוא נתן לי ביס,ואני שלא הבנתי מה הדקירה הכואבת באצבע ,משכתי את ידי מתוך התיבה בתגובה לכאב החד שחשתי, אבל לא זה החלק הטראגי בסיפור,כל האירוע היה עניין של שניות ספורות, בעודי מושכת את האצבע החוצה בבהלה אינסטינקטיבית, ומניפה אותה לגובה אני רואה בזווית העין את האוגר מחובר לאצבע שלי , מועף ממנה בתנועה חדה לכיוון התקרה ,נחבט כהוגן מהתקרה,נוחת בחבטה קשה על הרצפה ,נראה מתאושש לרגע, אולי מבולבל, מתחיל לרוץ בזיגזג מבולבל והלום קרבות, בורח מהחנות (בטעות ניווט) בריצה אל הכביש,אני וחברתי ההמומות, מביטות בו נדרס למוות על הכביש מול המזרקה של יעקב אגם,המוכר בחנות בכלל לא שם לב,היה עסוק עם לקוחות,כפושעות נבוכות, לא אמרנו כלום, היינו המומות,התגלגלנו מצחוק ובכינו מהסצנה הקומית טרגית שהתרחשה באותו רגע לנגד עינינו, ברחנו משם, כדי שאף אחד בחנות לא ישים לב.

  8. Anonymous

    Falling in love, Daniel Moritz street,
    I was nine years old and in deep mourning over the death of my first cat, who was large and mean. My parents, who hadn’t wanted a cat to begin with, were worried about me (and I suspect were also fully converted into cat-people by then) and decided it was time for us to get a new cat. I adamantly refused, claiming it had not been even a year since J died while pursuing a pigeon. I was not ready to love again.
    One late afternoon I was playing in the yard under our apartment building when I heard the cries of a small kitten. I followed the sound and found a small, ferocious ginger cat. He was completely helpless, but didn’t seem to know it, and had the demeanor of a fallen dictator. I was in love. We took him in and he lived a nice, long life with us. He chased other cats, broke or sprained all four limbs in various feline adventures and even adopted his own kitten once.

  9. Anonymous

    Reality shattered
    We were going to have peace. We were going to show everybody that we are reasonable people, that we don’t have too much hatred in our hearts, that we are capable at sitting down to the negotiating table with our enemies (who else would you negotiate with?) and strike a peace accord. We got the noble peace prize! Then we shot our prime-minister, killed him, named the square where it happened after him, and now we are slowly forgetting him.

  10. Anonymous

    Life changing call/text
    The year is 1999. I am a senior in high school and I don’t want to serve in the military. I have so far taken two steps to avoid having a high profile, the number with which Tzahal measures your level of usefulness:
    1. I have not gone to any of the voluntary tests administered by the army, ones that would prove I have a high IQ, speak more than one language, and am generally an intelligent, hard-working, non-homicidal or suicidal girl who would make a wonderful secretary or teacher.
    2. I have shown up to the only mandatory interview (“Tzav Rishon”) in a state of horrible hangover. My dad, who drove me, had to stop the car on the way and let me out to puke.
    I don’t want to wear a uniform, I don’t want to be told what to do, I don’t want to tell other people what to do. I want to be an artist- a vague notion at this point, one that seems to whisper of adventure, melancholy and travel- things I long for with every bone of my 17-year-old body.

    And yet, I have doubts- not going to the army in Israel is a big decision, which will set me apart from most of the population. I am standing in the living room of our family house in north Tel Aviv, on the phone with the drafting department of the Israeli Defense Forces. They have put me on hold, with the radio playing on the phone. The song is Lenny Kravitz and I sing along: “I want to get away! I want to flyyyy awayyy….”

  11. Anonymous

    Kikar Malchey Israel (now Rabin)
    It was a torrid Saturday evening of June 1982, and I went to the book fair in the square, by the Town Hall. I saw T. there picking books about New Age subjects. She was always very attractive, but the tan and her new haircut made her look even better. In the months I didn´t see her, since March that year, when we both covered the withdrawal from Sinai, she broke with her lover, a top ranking officer in the Army, and became vegetarian. As we talked, it was clear that we will end that night in her apartment, two blocks from there. Then, in one stand we spotted a former MK and retired colonel, signing his book about slavery in colonial Haiti (!). He told us that the planned invasion to Lebanon was imminent. T´s passion for journalism was stronger than my best attempts to be romantic that night. I walked her to her flat, were she contacted her bureau in Europe and spent the next four hours on the phone arranging the coverage of the war about to start. I left around 3 a.m., quite disappointed. After that I met T. only once, a couple of weeks later. In September she left Israel to spend some days with her mother in England, and there she was killed in a stupid accident.

  12. Anonymous

    heartache – December 2012 Hanukkah, candle lighting in the shops, soofganiyot, families on vacation, standing on the corner of Dizengoff and Frishman I notice a young, handsome, young man, shoulder length black hair, slim, wearing red jeans, black boots, a long black coat; looked like a hipster one would see in Los Angeles. I kept my eye on him as he crossed the street, dug into a trash can and took out someone’s discarded food and proceeded to eat. looks are deceptive, hunger pervasive.

  13. Anonymous

    Enlightenment

    Office building, Tel Aviv, Spring 1991

    After 7 years in the country and 4 years self-employed, and having come through Intifada I and Gulf War I, it looked like it was time to move my professional practice out of a spare bedroom and into a regular office.

    There are, at most, three degrees of separation in Israel. So I quickly found a troubled advertising agency (no conflict with my practice) that was willing to sublet three rooms. Over the phone, they said “40 square meters, 14 dollars per month per meter”. Standard office rent at the time.

    At the meeting with the woman in charge, she produced a floor plan of the rooms with dimensions. My engineering reflexes made me draw my pocket calculator and start checking stuff.

    “What are you doing?” she asked.

    “Checking that the areas involved add up” was my innocent answer.

    “Oh, drop that. How many square meters are you willing to pay for?”

    Instant enlightenment ensued: in the Middle East, reality is negotiable.

  14. Anonymous

    First stop- Rotchield boulevard, Tony Vespa.
    He looked at me I looked at him
    He didn’t eat pizza, I didn’t eat pizza
    He stayed I walked away.
    Second stop- corner of dizingof eben gbirol
    He – in his car, I – on my bike
    He honked at me …
    And the rest is history  

    Category – falling in love

  15. Anonymous

    Under the Dizingoff Center bridge. Falling in love.

    It was 10 years ago and I was sixteen. I came with some of my friends to meet some of their friends. We were girls and boys, and we shook each other’s hands and smiled. One of them was introduced to me as GB (full name is mine to know
    I said: “oh, so you’re GB. I hear about you all the time.” He was surprised.
    He said: “I hear about you all the time too”. I knew he was lying. He smiled.
    He was tall and thin with a terrible Afro and french goatee.
    We all entered the “Center” to play some arcade games. GB and I played “Tekken 3″. I don’t remember who won. After that we all sneaked to the roof and found a closed swimming pool, so we wandered the streets, shouting and screaming and laughing and flirting with everything around us.
    I thought about him all summer and wooed him all fall. We were an adolescent couple for the next winter and spring and then broke up, as adolescent couples do.
    8 years later he wrote me a love letter while I was living with my ex-Parisian-boyfriend in Paris.
    A year after that we were married.
    It’s the 1st of April and it’s a sunny day. He’s at work now I’m at our apartment, thinking how to fool him when he returns…

  16. Akin Ajayi

    Kikar Rabin, Tel Aviv

    Epiphany

    A sunny spring afternoon. My 5 year old son is turning cartwheels in the middle of the square. Two small children walk up and watch for a moment. “What a funny *Kushi* child,” one says to the other. They walk off.

    My son stop, stares after them, walks to me slowly. “Daddy, those children laughed at me because I’m black.”

    I pause. What can I say? The truth as I see it, I suppose.

    “And what’s funny about being black?” I ask my son.

    He chews it over for a moment. He smiles. “Nothing.” And runs off, to continue turning life upside down.

  17. Anonymous

    The beginning of a beautiful friendship, Carni street, a tiny alleyway in Old Ramat Aviv.

    It had been three months since we made “Aliya”, and I knew almost no Hebrew at all, and knew almost no one in the neighborhood. Every day I would take my son D to kindergarten and then pick him up at the end of the day. Every day B’s mom (a little friend my son had made) would sit next to me and chat with me in English. One day, when I was feeling especially alone and like a frog in a foreign pond, she asked me: “Hi D’s mom, how are you?” I told her it is very hard to be an immigrant. She, in a totally Israeli gesture, made a joke in order to change the subject to something lighter, since she didn’t really expect me to tell her how I was… we chatted about nothing for a while longer. The kids finally came out from the kindergarten and before saying goodbye she looked me in the eye and said to me: “Do you have a name, other than D’s mom (Ima shel D)?” We both laughed and said our names and a friendship began, which lasted more than 20 years.

  18. Anonymous

    An important argument, Betty Rockaway’s modeling agency, close to Habima theater.

    At 19 years old, between underpaid restaurant jobs, I decided to become a model. I didn’t have dreams of fame and fortune exactly, I thought of it as a good way to make a lot of money, and thought that although my 1.60 meter height would not put me on the runway, I could maybe be used to sell milk chocolate or hair color. I called the only modeling agency I knew of and got a meeting with the queen. I had heard that models always get discovered in jeans and a white t-shirt, so that’s what I wore. When I arrived Betty was in the office with a male photographer, who was to sit in on the meeting. He actually did most of the talking. I explained my plans (no fame, chocolate and hair dye) and they looked at me with pity. After a short pause, the photographer said to me: “listen, you are very cute, really, very cute. But what can I tell you? how much do you weigh?” I told him- 48 kilos. He said that was a little heavy for a model, especially one so short. Also he said I was a little too old to just get started, that I should have come with my mother when I was 13. he said products like chocolate are some of their biggest campaigns, and that those you only do with celebrities. Betty interjected and said that although she cannot take me into the agency, she does have some tips for me: I should stop dying my hair, and I should get a chemical peel, to get rid of the acne scars. She said all the biggest stars do it.

    When I left her office the receptionist stopped me and said I owe 250 Shekel for the meeting. I refused to pay and said no one had told me there was a fee. The receptionist argued with me and said “For a meeting Betty you have to pay!” I refused. After a few minutes, Betty came out and told her to let me go. As I walked out of the building, I knew I may be too old and too fat to be a model, but I am no פראיירית.*

    *the closest translation in English for the word “frayer(it)” is “sucker” or “dope”

  19. Anonymous

    (Sunrise at the beach café near the Dolphinarium. A realization that something is missing \ reality shattered)
    My hair is probably at least as ruffled as M’s and N’s who are sitting next to me on the beach chairs, staring at the waves. But I don’t care. Normally I would, but this night has opened my eyes, temporarily, to the fact that the wiring in my brain is all jumbled up. A decision needs to be arrived at now. M used to be my girlfriend, but it is with N that I am still in contact. We walked up and down Tel-Aviv this night, and played piano in my parents’ house, and bathed half nude in the sea, and now we’re playing with our food at a café on the beach. The unreasonable sum that the start-up company I work in is paying me brings me nothing but a penchant for psychodelic drugs and fancy restaurants. My psychological make-up is too complicated, I realize – defense mechanisms supplementing and overriding each other in an intricate web that succeeds in maintaining a presentable façade, more or less (a work of art, really).
    Within a week I resign, the twin towers in New York crumble to the ground, I get vaccinated and a month later am on a plane.

  20. Anonymous

    We were the only customers at one of the little restaurants in the back alleys parallel to Shuk HaCarmel on a late morning in early March 2009. I hadn’t seen or heard from my father for weeks prior to this meeting, and the longer I had gone without hearing from or of him, the more I had hardened in acceptance that I may never see this person again. I say ‘person’, because he was not the father that I had known growing up; I had separated the two people, burying the one in my childhood memory – and accepting the other as good as dead. A phone call informing me of the worst-case scenario would not have caught me off-guard and would only have put closure where a question mark remained dangling. I was a naive woman who had made aliyah six months earlier and was struggling to make a life in Israel. My father had swung from being severely depressed and suicidal to manic all in a matter of a mere few months. He had severed every relationship with friends and family in the U.S., found himself homeless and in jail, and then had hopped on the first plane he could to Israel, where he became a wandering homeless American in Tel Aviv. In Israel, I encountered him (sometimes unexpectedly) as a shaved-headed, thin-lipped sneering man spewing hurtful words at me and spouting delusions of grandeur – once even with a kitten he had named Pepsi on his shoulder. The day before we met at the shuk, however, I had received a call from him and his voice had sounded markedly different. It was sad – and low. And right away I knew that he had changed (again). We met up at the top of Nachalat BInyamin, near the Burger Ranch, and wandered solemnly and awkwardly in the shuk together – father and daughter reunited under very unusual circumstances while all of the shuk vendors around us went about their daily routine of hawking their wares. After much indecision and back and forth about what and where to eat, we finally settled on a restaurant with a few tables outside in the sunlight, and ordered stuffed vegetables with meat and rice in a rich tomato sauce to share. As we ate and spoke, I realized how much pain and havoc my father was just now understanding, like a little child, that he had caused. He apologized to me, and for the first time in my life, I saw his eyes tear up. Then I knew that he could be helped and that I would help him.

  21. Anonymous

    Life changing text

    Winter 2001 – Intifada II. I am abroad, on a three-month gig.

    Two identical messages arrive in short succession from my two kids: “I’m ok”.

    This is Standard Operating Procedure for our family when a family member is abroad. I now know, even before the news breaks on the local media, that a bus has been blown up in Tel Aviv or some outrage of the sort; and that they are all right.

    Back to work.

  22. Anonymous

    Victory achieved (sort of)

    Ramat Aviv. Late afternoon, summer. I come home for a 24-hour furlough from miluim (reserve army service). As I have dashed from sentry duty to my car, I am shlepping my full outfit – vest with full complement of loaded ammo magazines, two canteens, steel helmet, and of course my weathered M16. Any adult familiar with the Israeli scene need only glance at me to see me for what I am – aging, non-combat duty, buck private, fatigues worn by generations, dead tired and dying for a shower.

    The big yard in front of our apartment building is full of kids, shouting excitedly around the ice cream vendor’s van. An 8-year old neighbor recognizes me, peels off from the crowd and looks at me with eyes bright with admiration:

    “Wow! You Golani or something?”

    Golani being a crack infantry brigade in the IDF, I buy him a large cone.

  23. Anonymous

    My crime committed was of the emotional sort. After a back and forth affair, a desire for a man that could not be captured. The day after my birthday – at the port in Yafo. A fish dinner and a beer each – we walked back along the boardwalk to Tel Aviv overlooking the water. However futile I know that this love is, it is inescapable and the crime was against myself – my heart. Letting the cold air of the winter months hit our bodies, we grasped each other tightly, clasping our hands and embracing each other. He pulled me in under the stars with the mosque of Yafo in the background. We sat, above the sea, my feet over his lap. Kissing, caressing. The waves crashing serenely below us. This moment captures Tel Aviv for me. Hope, lust, sensuality, excitement in something foreign yet completely comfortable. A city which leads my emotions to take hold over the rationalization of my mind. Experiences like no other, whether permanent or fleeting.

  24. Anonymous

    Victory achieved!
    Although I am a woman, and the average Tel-Avivi male will always try to give me “helpful” advice, I am the best parking-spot finder and parallel- parker in the world. I have parked (LEGALLY) on: Shenkin street on a friday afternoon, on Rothchild blvd on a pretty day, and on Bugrashov street during brunch hour. I have only gotten 3 parking tickets in my life.

  25. Anonymous

    I am sitting in the waiting room of the Intensive Care Unit at Dana Children’s Hospital, on Weizman Blvd.

    A few hours ago my eleven-year old daughter was hit by a car. Her rail-thin body lobbed into a perfect parabola, she landed 90 feet away. An ambulance brought her here. Israel’s best and brightest pored over every inch of her body, inside and out. She has extensive bruising and a hairline hip fracture. That’s it. The doctors can’t believe it, so she’s scheduled to spend a day in the ICU and then a week at the hospital, “just in case” (nothing happened). Now she’s sitting up in her bed inside the ICU, reading a book. In the next bed a toddler, brain-dead from a car accident, lies silent. His father, a thick-set Arab villager, stands by his bed and mutters “Yallah, Ahmed, yallah”, again and again, like a mantra. My child, awash in her own adrenaline, is oblivious.

    So I watch the faces around me, and like an ermine cape – a symbol of privilege, fraught with responsibility – the realization descends on me: I Am The Luckiest Man On Earth.

  26. Anonymous

    my first boyfriend’s wealthy stepfather had a house in jaffa facing the sea that he didn’t use often. we were in the army, i was 18, and i came to spend a weekend with him during my training course. it was this luxurious beautiful chic house, i was afraid to touch things. he got me special take out from a fancy restaurant to celebrate our 6-month anniversary. i was really shy and didn’t know how to act the entire time. we had sex a lot and i just tried to act normal. a few months later, his mother and stepfather were in israel and invited me for dinner at an extremely fancy restaurant. the kind with a prix fix menu and stuff. his sister and brother in law were with us and maybe some other people. i was still super shy. i couldn’t finish my meal and the dinner went on and on. it was awkwardly long. finally a waiter came and asked if i was done, i said “yeah!” like as if he couldn’t tell. they cleared the plates. when we got back my boyfriend asked, “didn’t you know that you have to put your fork and knife together when you’re done eating?” i was horrified. i always thought i was so well educated at home (no elbows on the dinner table).
    he dumped me a week later. we were sitting on a bench in the kibbutz we were living in during the army. i was sitting to his left and that night i developed an ear infection in my right ear. as if that ear couldn’t handle hearing the dump. it was one of the most painful illnesses i ever had.

  27. Anonymous

    I was 15 and came to Tel Aviv with my family and spent the summer at my Dad’s TA apartment, on Ben Gurion corner of Dizingoff. It was 1994 or 1995. My father had a sailboat in the marina that I used to love sailing. Our family made some new friends with another family from Herziliya. They were being nice to my grandfather who lived in a tiny shack there that was built in the 1920s and hasn’t changed since. Anyway, they had 3 beautiful, blond, muscular sons. I was at the height of puberty, felt totally awkward and totally crushing on two of them. My father invited them for a day of sailing on our little boat. It was a glorious day! Everyone laughed, a few people fell into the gross water in the marina, we ate watermelons and dropped anchor in the sea and all dove in to swim in the middle of the watery vastness, with the Tel Aviv horizon spread far in the distance. We sailed back at sunset, went to my father’s apartment, everyone showered and there was no more hot water left. Then we went to a “workers” restaurant and had a big table spread outside on the sidewalk. We ate pickles and shishlik and kebabs and I think it was the most delicious meal I had ever had.
    I’m not sure if this was an “Unexpected feeling of oneness with the universe” but it definitely made me feel at one with myself. And my family, and my environment. A sense of belonging.

  28. Anonymous

    Crime committed, Dizengoff Center, Shenkin, Hatayelet.
    I was a teenager. I skipped school. I took the bus to the city and smoked cigarettes everywhere.

  29. Anonymous

    Late, on a warm night in early spring, I ran down Dizengoff, with a close friend, and large black permanent marker in my bag. On walls, signs, and poles, I tagged the words “i ME mine,” after the song by George Harrison. After seeing images of “Know Hope” and various other illegal markings throughout the city, I became part of the inspirational deliquincy, in an effort to remind myself, and those around me, to forfeit the cage of our own egos, our “I,” in search of something more meaningful outside of ourselves.

  30. Anonymous

    I went to the garment district, I think, a small area where there are a lot of fabric shops to buy the fabric for my wedding dress. My fiance and I went to travel and elope there in Israel, hoping to find our home. It wasn’t until years later that I had an epiphany, that Israel was not to be my new home. I haven’t been back since, it’s been over 7 years.

  31. Anonymous

    My boyfriend broke up with me after a year and a half. I was so heartbroken. I went to the beach to wash away my sorrows. I went to the Dolphinarium beach, as it was called at the time, where there is a breakwater. I climbed the rocks and watched the sea.
    I was alone there as this was the mid nineties and no one came to that beach. It later became famed as the drummers beach. But in the mid nineties it was a sleepy fisherman’s beach.
    A man with his dog came to sit by me, he seemed nice, but I was too heartbroken to appreciate his niceness. So I told him the story of me and my boyfriend, and how he decided to break up with me after a year and a half.

    As I was telling him this, I felt a presence behind me, I turned around, it was the boyfriend, the ex boyfriend that is. The man who broke my heart. He too came to wash his sorrows from our breakup at this same beach. The nice man got up and excused us, and we were left to watch the sunset together. For the last time.

  32. Anonymous

    Gan Ha’Atsmaut

    Reality shattered

    For the daily run, instead of going down Nordau towards the Tayelet, then south to Mike’s Place, he decided to cross Gan Ha’Atsmaut and run down the sea shore, to watch the sunset. While he ran down the steps that go down to the sand, he saw an older man, maybe waiting for a sexual opportunity. He thought how pathetic it is, and in the moment he passed him, he saw it was his father. He kept running and running while inside the world was collapsing… Or maybe he just imagined it?

  33. Anonymous

    Cafe Noach, Ha’Hashmonaim corner of Achad Ha’am, Heartbreak:

    Tomorrow my daughter is leaving to live in New York. A farewell brunch at her favorite place. Like always, a beautiful place, terrible service. Inside her omelet, served in a cast-iron skillet, is a shard of glass!! She says she is going to call the waitress over and say: “This is unacceptable! I can’t take it, I am leaving the country!” We all laugh, me also, while inside, I swallow the broken glass.

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