Friday, August 7, 2009

Swirling Thoughts #2 - brooklyn nostalgia

Trades We Make.
I’m trading faint foghorns for who knows what kind of alerts, alarms and sirens. My broken but sufficient Spanish skills will waste away as I search for ways to communicate with my African day-worker. As I sat with at least 100 other proud parents yesterday watching 44 of our kindergartners sing passionately about Jerusalem, I wondered if the meaning of the words was penetrating anyone’s heart. Even my Becky. I wonder if she feels proud when she sings about Israel because it will soon be hers or if she’s just caught up in the happy melody like everyone else. Surely they sing the very same songs in Israel. Do those children better internalize the message? If you don’t pay attention you miss the foghorns. If you listen carefully you hear all types of Brooklyn-specific sounds. Street cleaning machines, garbage trucks, an elevated train rumbling past, the ice cream man, a sefer torah dedication down an entire closed-off block, a city bus screeching to a halt on Kings Highway, the faint sound of conversations in Hebrew, Arabic, Spanish, Russian and very Brooklyn-style English. Come to think of it, minus the train and the ice cream man, how different could this be from the streets of Jerusalem? Time will tell but will my memory retain the sounds, smells, flavors of our first home? The smell of fresh ka’ak baking – surely this is part of the allure of Mahane Yehuda (for me, Israel’s answer to Kings Highway but really, Kings Highway’s inspiration). Thank Gd I’m accustomed to hot-tempered Israeli’s yelling and screaming, though in my new, heavily Anglo neighborhood, I might just get a reprieve from this phenomenon. Since my material life has been reduced to 83 boxes of “stuff” I’ve started contemplating what it is we take away from America – and it truly is “stuff”. We bring all our things so we can start our new life in comfort but the point is we are starting not just a new life. We are starting to truly live. All these years of accumulating stuff while our souls lie dormant. The foghorns do not even wake them.

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