I had been home from Israel for 2 weeks. Taglit was exhaustingly illuminating. I immediately wanted to go back to Tel Aviv, sort of wished I had saved this trip for a time in my life where I was feeling better, could have been more confident, more social, more outgoing. Better. The end of the trip was exhilarating. Five others and I decided to stay a few extra days in Tel Aviv. We befriended some marooned pick up artist who’d had all of his bags stolen and was waiting to go on an archaeological dig somewhere up near Haifa, the very north of little Israel. He joined our group and showed us his tricks. They failed invariably but we bought him drinks anyway, for the sheer fun of it. I admired his willingness to approach anyone, his unshakeable confidence. He attempted to give me advice on flirting with the Israeli girl I had developed a crush on in our first few days there. Early one night I had introduced all the israeli guys to Irish Car bombs and, committed to showing them how to drink, I managed to get stupid, stumbling drunk. No girl worth impressing is impressed by this. I got to the point where I couldn’t pronounce her name and she still put up with me, good-naturedly teaching me random Hebrew. She tricked me into telling all the Israeli guys I was gay and they would all burst out laughing. I was not to be embarrassed, smiled and accepted their explanations and a few embraces. Our group of American college students and Israeli army members stayed up all night laying on the monuments in some park in the middle of the city. A monument to Ben Yahuda maybe. We walked back to our cheap hostel near the beach with the drunk that comes as the sunrise makes you forget about the alcohol. I was tired but clear, hooked to the lifestyle. We slept three hours then went to the beach.
I stayed in Tel Aviv a day longer than everyone in the original group, walked around the city and went shopping to replace the khaki shorts our pick up artist kept making fun of me for. I thought about how I had worn pink pants in the desert just 5 days prior, drinking arak, laying on stranger’s stomaches, talking about conspiracies and the stars. It was good to be alone, good to be alive. I slept most of my flight home, woke up with my head on my neighbors shoulder. Apologized, went back to sleep with my silent friend for four more hours.
When I got home I realized there was nothing for me there. I began thinking of what to do with my time, with the $15,000 I had saved. When I was 15 I spent a month in Costa Rica with a group called Wilderness Ventures. I met one of my first role models, a 30 something year old man named Joshua, who had a penchant for rapping up advice in tall tales. He taught me how to take the ginger out of a flower, told me to eat half the ginger and put the flower behind a girls ear, handed me a second flower and pushed me towards the girl he had seen me looking at throughout the day. Somehow my sheepishness dissolved under his assured gaze and I put the flower behind the girl’s ear. She kissed me, the next night, as everyone went to sleep. Two days later we went surfing and I got up on my first try, surfed all day, then had my board cut me on the top of my ankle. I still have a small crescent scar which reminds me of Joshua and the rainforest. A friend from that trip told me he’s dead now, of some rainforest disease. I remember him when I can and try to be courageous.
So after Israel I decided to push my courage and go on a surfing trip.