Itka and I are experiencing an apartment move that's lasting for nearly a month. It seems we're moving in with Murphy, of Murphy's law fame. First the couple that's vacating the new place got held up and stayed two weeks longer. We spent those weeks on friends' spare mattresses and couches.
When we finally moved in a week ago, we found the walls too badly damaged for us to paint them. The painters could only start working today. We're staying on a matress on the floor till they finish.
As a result, we're still transitory, even though we're home. We haven't unpacked the kitchen utensils yet and only eat what can be cooked in our one pot and scooped with our two spoons (like toothless elders we thus subsist mostly on oat meal). I've been wearing the same shorts for a while and she found scores of ways to refresh the look of her basic black dress. We bought the bare basics: toilet paper, shampoo, toothpaste. All else takes care of itself.
Guess what, it does take care of itself. We could easily keep living like this, simply and happily, with no need for our electric coffee-maker. I made coffee in the big pot today for the painters using one of the two spoons, hot black Arab stuff, pretty damn fine.
While stirring, I thought of my friend Efros, a black coffee efficionada who've been living on people's couches not for fiteen days but for fifteen years. Efros's story can be summed thus: she left Israel after her army service, a very young poet and playwright who recieved plenty of appreciation. She went to Paris and fell for a 39 years old French carpenter with a teenage daughter and lived with him in Belleville, where she discovered the world of Indian dance.
When the love affair fell through, she went on to India, then to England, gradually forsaking writng and all things modern and stable for the love of folk art. She went back to the carpenter in France, till that ended again, discovered the Gypsies and their music, chased them around Europe for a while, came back to Israel to herd goats and then discovered Cairo.
She learned how to Belly Dance and made a huge career of it, then abandoned that and went picking Kiwi fruit and flowers with the Bedouins in the Galilee and herding camels with the Bedouins in the Judean desert. She stays with us sometimes when hitting town, as well as with many others. At other times she stayed in tents or on rooftops. She has no address. This beautifully dressed, ever young gorgeous woman is a homeless person.
It's not easy. The politics of being a guest are demanding, even when you're as pleasent, attentive and generous a guest as she is. Sometimes the weight of the reambling life gets to the heart and she's hit with very somber blues, but more often than not she's a model of happiness, of freedom and of being oneself in the face of society's many demands.
If life Efrosized us for this month, it can only be a blessing, one to contemplate joyfully at night, in the empty room that's somehow perfectly full. I'll conclude with a song written for my birdlike friend. It was filmed at the Sde Boker boarding school during "Desert Poetry Days", at a performance that turned into an event against the Gaza war and got us all kicked off the scene, free to roam further.