Trivial Pursuits {?} - Chapter 17, Part 1

There’s a very old city in the high mountains of the Galilee called Tzfat, which I enjoyed from very much when I was there visiting years ago. You might have heard of this place because of some few trips that Madonna made there to see the city that the Zohar says has the purest air in all the land of Israel. Basically, if you don’t know, the Zohar is the mystical books on Kabbalah, which many American celebrities like Madonna, Demi Moore and the baseball player A-Rod are following.

I didn’t go to Tzfat for Kabbalah reasons because I don’t believe it too much and also I’m not a celebrity, but instead for the views, which are 900 meters—some 3,000 feet—above the sea level and take your breath from you. In one place near the youth hostel where my family and I were staying, your eye can look out over the whole Sea of Galilee, down to the BethSaida wadi, and across to Syria. And when the fogs come off with the sun in the morning, it’s looking like the most beautiful picture of anything you’ve ever seen. My father and I made sure to dig this view in our brains every morning when we were there so we wouldn’t forget it when the trip was over.

One morning I asked him, “Why don’t we take your camera and make some few photographs so we have the view to look at when we’re home?”

He said, no. He said, “You will understand, Fareed, as you live longer, that the brain remembers pictures much more accurately if it has to remember with no help from a photograph.” He said, “The picture will always be in your inside eye if you learn now not to lean on anything from the outside.”

It was some of the best advices my father has ever given me because even at only 15, I know him to be true on this one. In the days that came after the fight with Eos, when I was living back in the Winnebago and visiting the Home Depots parking areas early during most mornings, I began to notice that the memories from all the good places and good times with Eos were very clear in my brain. I could see, for example, the views of the mountains in Pasadena very precisely from the few times we were in the car together driving there on the 2 Freeway. And remembering the outline of the snow-covered mountain tops against the sky led me also to some few clear memories of playing 20 Questions with her in the car, and even the actual questions and people she tried to get me to discover, like Edmund Halley, who predicted the famous comet would come back every 75 years, and Charles Thomas Bolton, the astronomer who was the first to prove the existence of a black hole.

But when I tried to remember some of the people and places I made films of with her on the camcorder, everything was sort of hazy compared to the other times. And trying to get at these memories was frustrating me, like some small piece of food you can’t get out from between your teeth with your tongue.

Of course, the memories that were most clear were the bad ones, after the fight with her when I went from the apartment after cleaning up the vomit off the parquet floors. So I didn’t wait for her to come back home. I at once ran up the stairs and pulled from the drawers all my clothing and pushed it into the Macy’s shopping bags I was using like sort of a suitcase and gave Otis a hug and went out the backdoor into the common grassy courtyard so to avoid Eos if she was coming back home.

I called my father from the Kmart payphone near tPark La Brea and explained to him some of what happened and he said he would drive back up to Los Angeles to get me. But the dilapidating Winnebago doesn’t go so fast, so I had to wait inside the Kmart for approximately two hours for him to drive from Irvine.

I knew Eos wouldn’t come into the Kmart because she was always making jokes about the place and telling me funny stories from when they used to have their Blue Light Specials many years ago—so I was at least safe from seeing her there, but most of the store smelled like cleaning fluids you sometimes run into in the lavatory, so I moved to the snack bar—which at least smelled from food—and ate just one small bite of quite possible the worst tasting pizza of my entire life. I don’t know why I did, because my stomach was still all upset from the fight and I wasn’t even very hungry. I guess it was just something to help pass the time.

When my father finally arrived, it was late and Kmart was closing and I was very tired and still upset about fighting with Eos. Part of me wanted to return to her apartment where the refrigerator would be humming because it always was, even during the nighttime when it wasn’t very hot. I wanted to see the Stravinsky photo like I did every night for the last three weeks and I wanted even more to see Eos and apologize and tell her I was sorry for what I said, and I really didn’t mean to have such a big fight, maybe just a little one.

I told this to my father and he looked at me like he does sometime when he wants me to reach the right conclusion by myself without him telling me what I should be doing.

“I guess we should get on the road,” I said, without the strength to go back and see Eos and Otis and Stravinsky on the refrigerator.

He said, “Are you sure?” in Arabic, because we mostly always were speaking our language when we were alone. Or Hebrew, but mostly Arabic, and it felt good to be using my mother’s tongue for a change. Even though I have discovered that I mostly dream and think in Hebrew, when I am speaking Arabic, I am basically thinking in Arabic, too, which is a little easier than thinking in English. But still, this was a hard decision to make up my mind on in any language and I had to ask him what he would do if he were standing in my shoes.

He turned off the motor and looked at me deeply in the eyes and then said, “Well, when your mother was alive, we had fights sometime, you know.”

And I did know this because you could hear everything in our house because of the balataot as I have mentioned. But they were never bad sounding fights though some few times after one I’d notice my father sleeping in the bomb shelter under our house. In Israel, every house needs to be built with a bomb shelter by law. It may sound unusual not to have a basement, but rather a place under the house to protect you from Qassam and Katyusha rockets. But it’s perfectly normal for us, and every five years or so we need to use them, like when Iraq was sending Scud missiles into Israel in the beginning of the 1990s. One of those hit very close to our village, or town, and you can still see the hole in the earth where it landed.

When my father was sleeping down there, so he’d have fresh blankets and pillows and a small mattress and all sort of things like this because we kept supplies down there just for an emergency.

“I always needed to relax a little bit,” he continued saying, “before your mom and I could talk about the problem.”

“So you think I should not go back right now?” I asked him.

He said, “Maybe not.” He said, “Maybe you will be better to wait until you can think through all of what led up to the problem.”

Check out previous chapters of Trivial Pursuits {?} right here.

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