This week, after 2 months, it’s finally starting to sink in: I used to live in Israel, and now I don’t.
I spoke to my friend Meital the other night. She called from Tel Aviv, on her way to work. It was 3:30am for me, and 10:30am for her.
As we spoke I could picture exactly where she was, walking up Dizengoff street, one of Tel Aviv’s busiest thoroughfares that runs all the way up north to the new port, where our company’s offices are.
I knew the way the air must have felt, in the morning at the beginning of the summer in a coastal city in the Middle East.
I knew the pace of street life she was passing by: shared taxis shuttling people up and down the city, bike riders on their way to work, storekeepers opening shop for the day and sweeping soapy water out their front doors after a morning wash.
The further north you head, the closer you get to Tel Aviv’s new port. The ocean becomes visible as Dizengoff ends and you turn west toward the beach. Then it’s just up another few hundred yards (meters, there) and you’re at the Wix office: a freshly renovated building looking out onto the Mediterranean.
I used to see the ocean from my desk, and watch the sunset on my way to the roof for a smoothie, and go upstairs with friends for cigarette breaks and look out at the view and say to ourselves “We work here.”
The sea-side office opened over a year ago but you never really get used to working in a freshly painted space with full floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over a Mediterranean sea.
Even during rainstorms it was a novelty, being shuttered in from the weather but still with a dramatic view of overcast skies and dark, choppy waves.
I got my first tattoo in Israel, right before I moved home. And this week – only 2 1/2 months after getting it – I’m starting to go through the process of getting it removed. It’s on my arm, and it’s a sea urchin, to remind me of the time I stepped on one while snorkeling in Cambodia, thinking as it stung me that I was going to die from some exotic combination of blood poisoning and a lack of traveler’s insurance. I love the idea of the tattoo; but the design never grew on me. It’s too dark, and spidery-looking. It’s harsh, and sort of goth. I wanted it to be delicate, and sort of goth. The process of removing it is relatively painless – just some novocaine shots, and a laser I don’t feel.
The painful part is that it’s removing a connection with my previous life.
The story behind it is from a trip to Cambodia, but the tattoo was made in Tel Aviv, my home for the past 4 years. And the more it dawns on me that that part of my life is over, the more frantically I’m grasping for connections to it.
And as my tattoo will fade after the next few sessions, it feels like I’m shedding layers deeper than skin.