On a map of London, Richmond park is a big green hole. Comfortably sprawled in the suburban expanse, it dwarfs Hyde park, Kensington Graden, Regent Park and Even Hampstead Heath.
When I lived in London with Ulla, we saw that great big green hole, previously the king's deer hunting grounds, on our A-Z city atlas, picked a fine Sunday and took the tube there. We made it into the park but never entered the forest. I felt weak and opted for picnicking under a large oak very near the gates.
It was not a pleasent picnick. I was dazed, leaning against the trunk, barely reaching for the wine and cherries. We went home early. I was whiny that night and the following morning woke up miserable. Britain's much criticized NHS recieved this tourist with open doors. I was diagnosed with Tonsillitis and given a perscription for antibiotics, which must have been a bit illegal, considering I hadn't even brought a passport.
That was in 1997. Eleven years later, I'm down with Tonsillitis once more. For two days I was not able to post, nor work, nor wash the dishes. Now that I'm back at the computer, it's funny what comes up on my mind: it's that huge oak, and Ulla, it's the mystery of a life I might have lived ages ago or might have invented, (me? London? what the hell?), it's the memory of being nearly in tears or maybe literally in tears when walking out of that ugly concrete NHS clinic, because some doctor cared enough for my miserable face to risk her professional standing for me.
If I'm hit with this dumb illness ten years from now, what will I remember of this time? From here, the memories don't seem like they would justify nostalgia. In addition to the throat infection, my sink is clogged and my computer is giving me hellish problems. I need to do the laundry soon (fever makes you sweat!) and the house is cold, bummer upon bummer.
But maybe - maybe I'll remember my friend Vizan, who's just rushed here to lend me his heat diffuser, or my friend Hadas Reshef, who's been calling on and off to see how I am, or my dear and old friend, the 4th symphony by Brahms, that I've been listening to on repeat for two days, or the gathering clouds over Jaffa, promising a rainy day tomorrow.
It hadn't rained in London that entire autumn. Would you believe that? Soon big drops will thump against the palm trees outside, rendering illness meaningful, even beautiful. Perhaps next time those damn germs catch up with me, Jaffa will be my magical past, a peculiar dream of kebabs, croaking geese at night and fireworks, perhaps I'll miss my current singleness, this unwarmable apartment or even these penicillin blues. A romantic is always an optimist, because he knows everything will be painted in pretty colors someday.