David Maritz lives on Camano Island where he pursues falconry, which is more than a hobby. He is originally from Zimbabwe and makes regular trips to Africa. This is a story he wrote, and I thought it would be a good one for Frog Hospital.
By David Maritz
Ohh the unusual, I wrote to Rochelle, you asked about the unusual!
and I continued..
There have been times that unusual things have happened to me.
If I were religious I would say it was directed by the hand of God. But I am not religious. I think that all belief in faith is no better than a bushman's belief in tokoloshi. Yet things happen that are stranger than coincidence. Thus I teeter 'tween, atheist and agnostic.
Saturday was one of these... Not as strange as some, but nevertheless unusual.
While I was in Africa I had a few facebook 'friend' requests from falconry buddies and I had your last greetings to reply to.
I decided to answer them all in one session.
With a stab of shock I saw in amongst them a new one, a 'friend request' from Meira.
Remember her? Once we came to visit you. Like me she was still wearing ma'adim, her uniform.
I nearly divorced Dorit for her. It was 1979 and I was in the army. Dorit and I had already been to the rabbinate to start the divorce. It was before we had kids. I had already found an apartment in Jerusalem to be near Meira at Bezalel. Off a tiny courtyard in the Sha'arei Hesed neighborhood. It did not have a shower or tub. But I figured I could always run across the valley to the Beyt ha’Hayal, the soldier center, to take a shower. I was so fit I could run forever in those days. So many 'alreadies' already done.
Then I went back to Tivon to pick up my stuff and Dorit cried and cried... great sobbing, heart wrenching sobs, hour after hour.
I was soft in my heart. I did not have the strength to resist those gut wrenching sobs. I said for us to drive around the north and I weakened further, and said I would spend another day with her.
On Mount Tabor we took two photos, me looking back and her looking forward. I labeled them " Mistaklim al ha'avar v'ha'atid b'etzev " - In my heart I already knew it was not going to work out - "Looking on the past and the future with sadness."
I still have them in my album!
and sure enough I lost Meira.
Three years later fate gave me another chance just prior to the War in Lebanon. Once again Meira and I were together and my daughter had just been borne. I was once again going to split from Dorit.
But the war intervened. I found myself dueling with a tank high in the anti-Lebanese mountains. As it's shells broke the sound barrier inches over my head I found myself praying to a 'God Unknown' to let me to see my new-born daughter one more time. In the flash of steel on steel that came through the smoke and dust of my last cannon shot I knew that my prayer had been answered (It was the only T-72 destroyed by tank fire in that war, all the rest were hit by missiles).
Also in that flash I realized that the taking of life is sometimes even more exciting than the making of life. But in living there is also death. I turned inward in guilty penance to that unknown God. The moral pound of flesh extracted was my silence to Meira's pleas.
Months later when I came out of those high bleak mountain valleys, and my remorseful mental cocoon, Meira was gone!..
and it was seven years later and a continent away, when the sadness of the future came to pass. Dorit and I divorced, with all the tragedy that goes with that and three kids.
On a whim I sent a post card and a photo to the address of Meira's parents in Rishon. A while later out of the blue I was stunned to get a phone call in my office at Microsoft. It was Meira.
She was studying in New York.
I was headed on a recruiting trip to Princeton and arranged to meet her at a cafe on the edge of Central Park.
She recognized me first from inside the gloom of the cafe where she was waiting. For a brief hour we walked in the park and sat on a bench and she told me about her life. It seemed she was married and had a daughter. She was working as an architect to support her husband who was studying film. She boasted of designing an arbor for Abe Soffer... whoever he was.
When we parted she did not want me to follow her back to her apartment.
I called her a few more times and I think that her partner heard her speaking to me. I think that she was scared of him.
I heard words in the background and abruptly she said ' I don't want you to ever contact me again '
Stunned, I said OK.
I kept that promise.
That was almost twenty years ago. Yet I have always longed to hear from her. She had hips like bells and hair as gold as the sun on summer barley. I had loved her absolutely but I had been too weak to overcome the obligation of an unwanted marriage.
I knew I had fucked up completely with her. Over the years I pondered the inflection points that nudged me away. I would say to myself "You fucking idiot."
Then came the internet. Every now and again I would search for Meira.. that was easy... but in English was her surname with a 'w' or a 'v'? or a 'i' or 'y'?. I found her under almost all the combinations. Now, it seemed, she is one of the most successful architects in Israel. With her partner, also the head of architecture at her old college, doing such grand projects as the refurbishment of the Israel Museum.
Thus last Saturday my hand trembled as I clicked the facebook request, the one I had waited twenty seven years for, to again be Meira's friend.
It was my birthday.
That's what made it even more unusual. After nearly three decades surely she could not have remembered! Was that 'Unknown God' once again messing with my mind?
I wrote to her....
March 14 at 9:47pm
Is it possible that my Meira has parted the curtain of the past?
Maybe it is not the same? The profile birthday does not mesh... But it certainly meshes with ~ when I first
laid eyes on you.
To which she replied
March 15 at 5:13am
Hi, Is it u?
I am younger and older now.
Fuck me sideways! That is all she offers after all these years!!
Then I look more carefully at her profile picture. Her genius for design and innuendo seeps forth!
Obviously it is her office and bookshelves, and maybe an aerial photo of Jerusalem on the wall.
And cocked lazily out from behind the end of the shelves..... just her splayed legs. One ankle resting on the bench, the other from its apex on her tall chair, clasped in mid air suspension.
They are her legs, I recognize them... high arched, curved, soft, full female, emanating from those hidden bell like hips, that I remembered.
Suddenly I burn with a desire to pad softly over, to stand before her, and gaze into the hidden and suggestive apex of her life that should have borne me sons and daughters.
I want to stand before her and say I am sorry,... I am so utterly sorry!.... I really fucked up!
I want to stand before her and quote E.E Cummings
i like my body when it is with your
body. It is quite new a thing.
Muscles better and nerves more.
i like your body. i like what it does,
i like its hows. i like to feel the spine
of your body and its bones, and the trembling
--firm-smooth ness and which I will
again and again and again
kiss, i like kissing this and that of you,
i like, slowly stroking the, shocking fuzz
or your electric fur, and what-is-it comes
over parting flesh... and eyes big love-crumbs,
and possibly i like the thrill
of under me you quite new.
and then turn and walk away...
because we are thirty years, and two continents, and an ocean apart...
and that God is still unknown.
- DavidEditor: I like this story quite a bit. David and I kicked this story back and forth and there only needed to be a few changes for the sake of clarity.
Frog Hospital will continue this theme of love and marriage. Some of the characters -- Sheila, the Tarot queen from Beaver Marsh Road, Carla, the librarian from San Antonio, Nora, the lady gazing into the mirror on her dressing table, and the African woman who has several names -- we'll be hearing more about them in subsequent installments.