My cousin Karen was on my balcony tonight, telling me of her work with the Sudanese refugees, and interrogating me about romantic matters. "I'm trying to figure out this thing called love", she said. Glad to hear I am considered a valuable source.
She told a story that interested me. It had nothing to do with the refugees, nor with romance. It had to do with our relationship with places, which is what I dedicate my life to researching and describing.
These days Karen lives in her hometown of Paris. Earlier in life she had spent eight years living in the "Nachla'ot" area of Jerusalem, a cluster of labyrinthine neighborhoods, centered around courtyards and connected by pleasant alleyways. A week ago she was invited for dinner there by some older friends.
Arriving a bit early, she decided to take a walk around and felt eight years spring to life around her. "Here's where I flirted with this guy on the staircase, here's where I had a picnic under the tree on a hot Saturday..."
Gradually she came to feel as though her life was passing before her eyes, a strong sense of death accompanied that feeling. The weight of rather light eight years - student years, youthful years - was overwhelming. When her friends opened the door for her, she began sobbing.
Nothing a nice glass of wine can't ease, right?