Do you remember the sound your heart made when you first fell in love?
Don’t laugh. I do.
That is, I think I do.
I was fifteen.
Drunk with love.
In the sappiest way possible.
As in, I thought I had found bliss.
My heart made the sound of a dove’s wing flapping frantically against weathered stone.
I was so young and naive.
It was the first time I had seen the Kotel.
All my prayers, every whisper of education and child’s song, could suddenly be touched.
I remember getting right up close and looking straight up.
To peace of mind?
I just looked up.
And suddenly life mattered.
And it was beautiful.
Flap flap went my heart.
I hit rock bottom recently.
And with rock bottom comes intense fear.
I realised I had no one to fall back on when life seemed to be pulled out from under me.
I had no one to call my own, to centre me and remind me that I am needed.
As an expat living in the city of dreams, that valley of hills halfway to paradise, I turned to the one thing that made my heart go flap flap.
How does one climb out of rock bottom?
Lists, a life coach will tell you.
Doing what you love.
So I made a list and the first thing on it was retracing my steps to the place I first fell in love.
I woke up, got out of bed, put makeup on.
All those things are little triumphs over the black hole of rock bottom.
I decided to walk to the Old City instead of taking the light rail, thinking the rhythmic movement of my feet might bring me some sort of focus, some instant peace, that standing around and waiting around, would not.
On went my earphones.
Today, gray and rainy and full of vociferous wind, was a perfect day for Coldplay.
I walked with purpose, my computer on my back.
Try not to feel invisible.
I whispered with each step.
Rock bottom had given me the ability to feel extremely invisible.
Try not to feel like a ghost.
But somehow, walking through the streets, rock bottom shrugging off my shoulders with each forced step, I still felt like a spectre.
Coldplay piped into my ears, The Chainsmokers aiding them, singing along about myths of old, and something like this, like a kiss.
Listen beyond the music. I willed myself.
I closed my eyes every once in a while, to see if I could make myself visible.
I closed them so tightly I began to notice something.
A steady, splendid rhythm.
The city sang.
It sounded like the old man in a 90’s colourful Bucharian kippah at Haba’s open bakery, supine over his bread oven, conducting pitot out of it.
It was the music of a metal cart unloading fruit boxes near the shuk.
It was the resilient flap of a torn Israeli flag, waving atop a pole.
It was the most human joyful noise of three Arab men enjoying a joke, and doing a bro high five and saying “Yalah Kifeik,” to a passing Hebrew speaking delivery man.
It was the sound of a skateboard down Yaffo in time to the beat of my song.
It was the scuffle of the ridiculously magazine worthy shoes of the German tourists rounding the Old City gate.
It was the warm trickle of laughter coming from the Shirut Leumi girl who giggled as she pet a stray cat nuzzling her leg in the Rova. “Noga, Tistacli! Hahah, Ouaiyy.”
It was the sound of ten tourist groups trying to find wonder in the place where my heart first fell.
It was the sound of my tears as I realised my heart changed.
It was older now, fatigued, and the love was harder to find.
It was the sound of youth groups singing, “Ivdu et hashem b’simcha.”
It was the gentle whap of sheets on a clothing line in an Old City courtyard.
It was the sad serenade of a man and his clarinet playing something from an old world to an even older one.
It was the sound of a woman shouting “chamudah,” at me in hopes of getting a donation.
It was the sound of a festival gearing up.
It was the crackle of acid wash jeans and cigarettes against jaded lips.
It was the almost imperceptible sound of soldier’s boots as they disregarded the rain.
As I sat down to order coffee and food at Tmol Shiloshom, the waitress only corrected me once.
The hafouch was the best coffee I had ever tasted.
She told me the gluten free bread was on tap.
I pulled out my computer, ready to check the second thing off my list.
And I couldn’t. Not until I wrote about the sounds, the symphony.
Not until I understood the flap flap was in there somewhere.
And maybe that’s my superpower.
I may be invisible right now.
But I can still remember the sound my heart made when I fell in love for the very first time.
I am music itself.