As I walk the neighborhood this Saturday, I try to articulate the unsaid to myself. The skies cast a steely sheen across everything and the sidewalks are eerily quiet. The sellers on the street below my apartment no longer joke and laugh, for there is no joy in losing profit. The tattoo parlor we live above is closed, and to my surprise, I find myself missing the constant laughter and banter coming from people relaxing and smoking on the patio. The party store beside our apartment no longer blasts music all day and the only comparably loud sound now is a garbage truck. The shuk (market), once filled with wandering tourists, is now only of service to cautious Israelis with a mission. The coffee shop which usually has a line out the door now has only a collection of people, all warily standing two meters apart. If I speak English in a store, they ask how long I’ve been here, taking caution that I may be a traveler who is breaking the mandatory two week quarantine.
People walk around with various face-masks and rubber gloves which is quite amusing; I saw a woman wearing a full gas mask, and many people wearing common paint masks which don’t do anything… nor is it clear that a medical face-mask does anything also. I guess it is an outward expression of the fear and anxiety hanging heavy in the air.
I walked into the moadon the yesterday to get a guitar to play, which is the meeting room where our program hosted talks, classes, and activities. I was there nearly every day, but I haven’t been since the government outlawed gatherings of more than 10 people over a week ago. I heard echoes of a time past, hit with that sunken feeling of never getting them back. I guess walking around the neighborhood feels like going after a breakup to that special place you and your ex went to; you recognize it, you loved it, but it’s loaded with a past rosy view which clashes with a duller present. Yes, It feels like i’m living in a parallel universe. Further contributing to my feeling of loss, many of my closest friends are leaving for home to be with their parents. I can’t leave a community behind here and crazy as it sounds America, my place of birth, one of the mightiest powers on earth, is less safe than Israel.
As I write about my Saturday morning walk, I see a connection to some of the greatest war accounts from the Homefront perspective. My mind went to how Anne Frank felt in the early parts of her Diary about transitioning from freedom to lack thereof. This is the first total war not just for my generation but for my parents too where the public is key to the war effort.
Despite, I’m trying to keep my spirits high and all of these limitations has spawned a burst of creativity from all creators. My program is coming up with solutions for activities with under 10 people or online. At Koolulam we are dreaming about online events. The international artist community is converging over social media to help each other. Last night I did a livestream concert from my couch for the people on my program. About 25 people engaged over google hangouts, sharing song suggestions, giving applause and laughter. I sang the Beatles, Elton John, Maroon 5 and of course my hit Sunsets Past. It made me so happy to sing and bring some happiness to my friends who are like me, cooped up in their apartments. In times like these we could let the rain drown out our voices. But I choose to be like Gene Kelly, and sing in the rain.