Monday, September 14, 2015

Clean Sheets

I found this journal entry from last year at a time that I am angsting over a number of life transitions, including where to go on vacation. I’ve been here about a year and a half and haven’t traveled outside of Israel and Palestine. I MUST! There’s a whole world to see! A few days ago I was contemplating Macedonia. That’s after my Croatia kick. Then I bailed on that and thought I’d settled on Greece, but I couldn’t pick an island. So now I’m back on Istanbul. And that's just location - dont' get me started on booking hostels, figuring exchange rates, and convincing myself to take off work. But in driving to pick up my dear friend from the airport yesterday, I was reminded of a core lesson that I have over and over again been re-teaching myself: not to take life or ourselves so damn seriously. This is something that I know intellectually, but am trying to train my insides to reflect the theory (kind of like meditation when your mind wanders to grocery lists and Greek islands and all of a sudden you get a rib in the side from your subconscious reminding you why  you’re doing this in the first place: oh shit! Breathe!!)  All knotted up inside and trying to smoothe everything out, I returned home to journal last night and came across this artsy attempt to capture a little treasure: the joy of freshly changed sheets. So, with that introduction/aside (can you have an aside before you formally start?), here is a post on appreciating the little things – near and far.

Sometimes people need a change of scenery – a whole adventure peppered with exotic spices; with savory meals during a sunset that sheds a whole new light on our worldview with no added effort but for a slight change in meridian. They seek fresh perspective at the bottom of glasses of tropical fruit juice and rum or in the sage wisdom from the old man who is said to live atop the mountain's peak – evasive as the rainbow’s gold and not nearly as wise as his seekers were in the first place.

I, too, have trekked the globe in search of an answer – seeking sounding boards against steely walls of city centers and the spongy backdrop of a jungle; against the ancient limestone and marble capsules of academia and religion, listening for an echo of ‘my truth’ all the while passing too quickly through the fun house to pay attention to the more subtle reverberations that followed my query. They may very well have offered the harmonious chord I’d been listening for had I paused long enough to notice.

What if, instead, that truth – that golden wisdom or the answers in our own quiet hum or the ecstasy in the first sips from a daiquiri glass – could be found in the place to which we always return; that place that grants unwavering comfort if we acquiesce to it. That sacred space to which I am referring is between fresh sheets.

There is nothing in the whole world like clean sheets. Peeling off the under-layer of that intimate cushion to remove the dust and sweat and tears you’ve carried with you and laid to rest each night – mildly absorbed to relinquish you of your burden but never fully discarded; rather, catalogued and stored away for you to sift and sort at a later date if you so choose, or to leave permanently behind in one wash cycle. Residing there – a collective memory upon which you rest your everything and leave it all behind only to gather more the next day. And when you put on clean sheets, you strip all of that away and pull that silky fabric taut across your mattress like a blank canvass.

When I was little, my mom used to raise the top sheet up and drop it across my sprawled frame. She said that this was what angels descending feels like. Each moment dissolved like a separate grain as the angels graced each nerve ending – skimming my toes, knee caps, chest, and nose, sinking deeper across my patient body until the sheet and I were resting as one, like a single piece of smooth chocolate melting across each taste bud of the tongue.

Then I’d slip inside to slumber deeply and start fresh with a new awakening, sliding one foot along the silky space and onto the cool floor, and then the other, to grace a new day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ode to the Pheromone

I love the scent of a man as much as the next woman. Perhaps more so. You can tell so much with a deep whiff – just like burying your nose in the midsection of an ancient book. Where have you been? Has it been a hard life? What’s your story? And what’s the latest trend? Are you more than your cover reveals?

Even in middle school when most boys smelled like Doritos, gym socks, and Gak, I was convinced that their scent was one of the most powerful forms of subconscious relating. It got even better once they started wearing deodorant. Perhaps I was just ahead of my time, but social cues indicated otherwise as my peers started wearing nauseatingly noticeable layers of perfume and eyeliner. I tried to follow suit – dabbing perfume from the tester packets in magazines or from small gifts by family members desperate to see me put down my softball glove and take some level of interest in my femininity. But nothing ever seemed to be the right fit for me – I always came out the other end smelling like an old china cabinet. Even more frustrating was how to find a good scent with my chemical compositions changing every half an hour. One time I tried Olive Tree and Eucalyptus oil in the store and by the time I got home I smelled just like a Tootsie Roll.

In addition to keeping up with perfumes’ scent-shifting, it was also a constant question of ‘how much is too much?’ Should you smell me on the street? Should you smell me after gym? Should you smell me while I swim? Far more complicated than I cared to waste my precious time on, I abandoned scents altogether for myself, but just as art appreciation lives on with the artist, I never gave up on deep breathing around a good dose of pheromones.

I want to return now to one of the pivotal questions that stumped me and ultimately cut my relationship with perfumes and colognes as a youth – a question for which I never found an answer and that, I have noticed living in Jerusalem, can last into adulthood for a large sector of the population. Take, for example, the gentleman in my building whose fragrant scent lingers like breadcrumbs leading him home at the end of a long day. He seems to share my cosmic query: how much is too much?

Or actually, does he even know to ask the question? Maybe he has no strong role model or close friend with any sense of smell whatsoever or common courtesy for the public space to guide the way.  And that is why I am writing here today – to finally and decisively close this mystery from my childhood:

I can decisively ascertain that if your aftershave can curl under my front door, through my home and into my kitchen to mask the scent of my brewing coffee as you make your way down our stairwell, then you are absolutely, 100% no-question hands-down wearing too much cologne.

I feel truly vindicated and want to shout my discovery to the world. I want to slip this open letter under the door of my neighbor. On the one hand, I feel like it would be a service to society. On the other hand, what if he doesn’t see quantity with the same certainly and absoluteness that I do? Or what if he is using his musk to lure a potential lady friend from the next neighborhood over?  What if he has a long-lost lover whom he is trying to woo back across sands of time and the Negev to our little jungley enclave in the city? That’s a lot of street musk and camel pee to cross and certainly necessitates the three extra spritzes now donned upon his neck and nether-regions.

But! That brings up another question: what if, just as birth control can alter your hormones and actually change the men you are attracting (that’s real – look it up), this poor soul is masking his uniquely sexy pheromones with corporate (albeit delicious) olfactory homogeneity that puts him in direct biological competition with Ashton Kutcher and Justin Beiber? That’s science. These are the things I worry about as I choke on the indecision to inhale his manly, trite-but-never-tired Axe or gag on his aromatic overindulgence. But I will say – my dear neighbor, your audacity smells divine and I wish you all the best in attracting a mate – hopefully from very, very far away.