Sunday, July 27, 2008

Soldiers

Mossa'ei Shabbath Qodesh Parshath Matoth 5768

So there I was Erev Shabbath in the makkoleth (store), minding my own business,when several soldiers came in. I continued about my business, when I couldn't help notice that one of the soldiers was speaking English to another. He called him by name, and not terribly common one.

I thought to myself, this is just too much of coincidence,...well, too much of something. I don't believe in coincidences. A buddy of mine, also a soldier, and also called by this same name, and with the same Ashkinazy pronunciation, and also a native English-speaker, was coming to stay with me for Shabbath.

I went back and forth as to whether to talk to him, or maybe that was just silly.

Sure enough the decision was taken care of for me,...sort of.

This soldier got in line to pay, right in back of me. So, I started to talk to him in Hebrew, and told him about my buddy the soldier with the same name, who was coming for Shabbath. We switched English,...just 'cause, and continued to talk. I wanted to hear if there were any other connections. I invited him for a meal. He was on duty during dinner time, and was not sure if he could get permission to come for lunch. I gave him directions to my house, and said just to come if he could. No worries.

Well, he did not come in the end, and it's just as well, because the salmon I was hoping to have prepared for lunch, did not make it for lunch either. I forgot to turn the oven on....

We ate dinner out, as planned, and made due the next day with salads, bread, and more salads. "Someone" misunderstood and didn't bring additional bread (not his fault), so salad was tantamount to the main course. It's summer though, when I like to eat light foods, especially during the day, thus salmon was on [and then off] the menu.

We had a good time, and as my guest is a fellow Southern California, I was able to speak in my "native dialect," which I almost never get to do.

I wonder what happened to that soldier. Perhaps I'll bump into him again. Perhaps not. As it turns out, my buddy from SoCal knows him, and learned at the same yeshiva with him briefly. It's a small world,...after all. If by some strange happenstance he sees this, hope he writes.

This Shabbath was only the cap off, though, to my strange and continual bumping into soldiers.

Wednesday night I was all ready to go to sleep, when I saw a disturbing away message on someone's IM listing,...a soldier, and not a happy one. Needless to say, I didn't get to sleep right away...

Then on Thursday, late afternoon in Jerusalem, after work and Shabbath shopping, an appointment I had for the evening was pushed back. This triggered a change in my plans. I was on Yaffo Street, much later than I normally would have been, making my way toward my appointment. I did a double take, and for the heck of it, called out the name of who I thought was standing in a passageway. Sure enough, it was who I thought it was,...yet another soldier,...on a five-day furlough. I almost didn't recognize him, because of all the weight he had lost, not that he needed to. Apparently, the army can do that to you, when you're in a qeravi (fighter) unit.

His plans had changed too. We had not seen each other in ages, so we started walking. He looked down, so I offered to buy him a cheap anti-depressant,...ice cream. After hemming and hawing, suggested we get frozen yogurt on the midrahov (pedestrian mall) on Ben Yehudah Street (no relation). I hadn't been there in ages; it's not my favorite place. (Actually, I can't stand it.) I grew up in a tourist city, so I learned very early on in life to avoid trendy and touristy places, you know, like the midrahov.

What the heck! I went anyway, and I'm glad I did. He introduced me to the frozen yogurt at that ice cream place on that corner of Ben Yehudah near Cafe Rimon. I don't how know exactly how much frozen yogurt was actually in it. But you get to pick from like 30 frozen fruit, melon, and berries, as well as cookies and candy, and then they blend it all together for you. I insisted on at least a little bit of sprinkles and chocolate syrup, as they're free. Not bad at all!

I insisted we sit a reasonable distance from that busy corner, as I can't hear worth a darn with all of that background noise. As we sat down under a tree, somewhat sheltered from the hustle and bustle, I received a text message. My appointment was pushed back even further. As the sun was going down, the I noticed that the atmosphere was not trendy and not too touristy. Rather it just felt pleasant.

It doesn't really matter where I am, it's whom I'm with that matters.

We talked about "going with the flow," if that means anything to you.

I guess this conversation is what made me decide, or rather remind me, to start talking with that soldier in the makkoleth.

That soldier from Wednesday night? He'll be OK. We plan to meet for coffee one of these days. He said to call him whenever I am near his "undisclosed location," and he'll come right over, going with the flow.

Update:

I bumped into the soldier who is stationed in my yishuv this morning. He survived another Shabbath in the IDF, and seems to be doing well.... Only another 16 months to go....

My Shabbath guest has another three and a half months, and the soldier I bumped into last Thursday, less than a year and a half.

Funny how they all know their upcoming discharge dates.

1 comment:

tnspr569 said...

It's nice when things work out well, isn't it?

Surprises like these are also nice. Glad to hear that you got to spend some time catching up with old friends.

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