I am sorry that I have been away for so long. I really have no excuse except that little one about how I was preparing to get married. So please blame Sergey. It’s all his fault!
Let me start back in Haifa with our preparations there. One of our biggest concerns before leaving was getting a flat where we could live together upon our return. We were assigned one in French Carmel, which is on the other side of the Bahá’í gardens from Hillel, the street where we used to live.
Our old neighborhood could be called Bahá’ítown, as it seems the majority of staff reside there. You can’t walk down the street without bumping into at least a few people you know. It’s nice to have so much community around, but also disconcerting for those who are less used to the “village feel” of everyone knowing everyone. Also, if by some miracle you don’t see anyone you know, you’ll surely bump into one of the many cats that call Hillel home. Or one of the cats will bump into you, as happened to me on one of my final nights in my old flat. There was a kitten, apparently motherless, trying to find a human mommy to latch onto. I heard her meowing and then felt her butting her soft little head against my ankles. Goodness. My heart came very close to melting into a puddle.
They say that the cats were brought to Haifa to eat the rats. Then the jackals came to eat the cats, and then the boars came to eat the jackals. I wonder what will come to eat the boars….
Anyway, our new flat is number 26 in a high rise with flat numbers 1 to 26 spread across about eight stories. So, when we first came to check the flat, we logically went to the top floor. The flats ended with number 25.
“Great,” I told Sergey. “I guess we’re living on the roof.”
Luckily we do have an actual flat that is randomly on the second floor, above the grocery store beneath. We just need to hook up a rope with a bucket at the end to our window, make a hole in the roof of the grocery, and lower it to pick up our food. Yay for laziness!
Actually, we need to be upright citizens, since both of our bosses live in the building across the street!
Moving our things was anything but lazy, though. I moved in first and Sergey moved his non-essentials while continuing to live on Hillel. While I came to Israel with two suitcases, over the past year I had somehow amassed many boxes worth of belongings. Actually, most of my belongings were a dozen or so houseplants. I like houseplants. As decorations go, they are fairly cheap and bring vibrancy and life to interior space, and for apartment dwellers like me who can’t go garden in the street, they offer a special opportunity to practice my green thumb. Honestly, their only drawback is their awkwardness when a move comes around. Have you ever tried to wrangle a 10-foot long philodendron into a plastic bag? Or have you ever stuffed a dozen houseplants into the interstices of luggage in a sedan while Sergey laments, “They will die! They will die!”?
They did not die. Once unpacked and released into the new flat, they began to enjoy the new western exposure. And who wouldn’t?
In my week of living there, I found myself transfixed on a daily basis by the inimitable show of the sunset over the Mediterranean. I would reluctantly break the trance to return to my somewhat obsessive task of scouring every surface in the kitchen first with soap, then bleach, while washing every dish and pan. (But after Sergey pointed out the dead gnat adhered to the teapot, how could I do otherwise?)
Well, dishwashing seems like an appropriate way to end this episode. Stay tuned for parts two and three as I get up to speed!