All the day trips and lectures I had been planning to attend were cancelled due to anticipated snow that turned out to be rain. Grrrr. Because Jerusalem is still traumatized from the snowfalls of the last two years, it shuts down as soon as forecasts include the S-word, regardless of how remote the chances. But I have my thermal undergarments, my ski pants, my waterproof, hooded, fleece-lined, ankle-length raincoat at the ready, so bring it on. I’m a part-time New Yorker – I can handle the truth!
So, facing an under-programmed day, we went to the movies. Luckily, the theaters stayed open and, luckier still, they were showing a movie I wanted to see. I have already played the good sport and accompanied my husband to the James Bond and Star Wars films, so now it was my turn to choose, and choose I did – “45 Years.” I haven’t seen any reviews that said the movie itself felt like 45 years, but I will admit it was slow. Still, I enjoyed the acting and the gradually unfolding plot about a troubled marriage. There were only about a dozen people in the audience, probably due to both the nasty weather and the lugubrious nature of the movie. Apart from enjoying the movie, I just reveled in the idea that I was doing something ordinary. Yes, in the past three months of renting a Jerusalem apartment I have been cooking and grocery shopping and cleaning the toilets and babysitting the grandkids – quotidian activities all. But largely our days have been filled with one or two or three activities each. I will go to an exercise or Torah class or a volunteer opportunity in the morning, coffee with friends in the afternoon and maybe a museum exhibit or a concert at night. It’s a very full schedule – even frenetic sometimes. It’s not just that we are trying to make the most of our stay. Actually, this is how we live in New Jersey as well. We are blessed with high energy and we share the sentiment that, “You’re dead a long time.” But there was something very comforting about halting all the running around and just relaxing in a movie seat. It felt ordinary. It felt homey and unpressured. And we extended the evening by heading over to the Inbal Hotel for their Winter Soup Festival – an all-you-can-eat extravaganza of five different soups. We sat in the lobby and slobbered our way through onion soup, artichoke-leek, minestrone, etc. It felt like home. No need to pack it all in, see all the sights, maximize our time; no mindfulness that we will be leaving in ten weeks. We simply felt as though we live here, without over-thinking the matter. We just plain live here. Not to be a spoilsport, but the other aspect of that evening was my reflection after the liquid dinner that, “Wasn’t this a great day – except, of course, for the fatal stabbing.” Yes, after the movie we checked our phones and read that one of the day’s multiple stabbings had proved fatal. It’s that crazy double-track life of going about your business, even celebrating, while simultaneously people are thinking to kill you for purely existential reasons, namely, because you exist. I guess “ordinary” in this country is a bit different from “ordinary” in most places but I have to say, it was nice to revel in the ordinariness of placing one foot in front of the other and just being. What a pleasure and a privilege it feels to just “be” here. Pass the popcorn? Please?