Volodia (pt 1)
I didn’t go to there to fight. I went to Jerusalem to heal.
There was, however, an epic battle that I ended up participating in, much to my mind-blowing surprise…. Got hit in that one and ended up at Shaare Zedek – The Gates of Righteousness – an Orthodox Hospital, on Shabat FFS, when it’s pared down to a skeleton crew. The nurses all insisted on speaking to me in Arabic, for some reason.
Anyway, one day I had a very intense dream – a morning dream, right before I woke up.
It was filled with a strong golden light. In the dream I met a being, a kind of … dwarf / gnome type guy… I don’t want to be disrespectful – from a species like ours but smaller in stature. He was a serious effing dude, no nonsense, rather gruff. He told me his name. I asked him for a ‘boon;’ I literally used the word, ‘boon,’ in the dream. He was all, “Fuck you, no boons for you,” type thing. I explained to him that it was NOT for me, that I was asking on behalf of a young man. Begrudgingly, he agreed.
So – that was kind of a wild dream. But, you know, whatev…got dressed and headed downtown, somewhat later than planned.
My bus had such a beautiful route to downtown Jerusalem – past olive groves and Mt Zion – a lovely ride, around 20 minutes or so….At one point a group of school children clamored aboard and one of them sat down next to me; a skinny, adolescent boy with straight, light brown hair and an unsmiling, reserved demeanor… He sat on the aisle, to my right, and turned his back to me as he fished out a crumpled piece of paper and read a note, written in a kid’s awkward hand, in English. Being naturally extremely nosy, I could not help but read it over the boy’s shoulder; it seemed to be a continuation of some metaphysical discussion the he had been engaged in with whoever the note-writer was… some type of junior high, meta-philosophical debate…Being nosy and lonely and something of a metaphysician myself, naturally I butted in and spoke to him. I said something about the logic of the argument (it involved an example of cats, I think? Not in reference to Schrodinger or in any scientific/quantum-meta theoretical sense but, if my memory serves, the writer posed some issue related to incarnational trajectories, a la Hindu/Buddhist cosmologies.) I addressed the lad in English, interjecting some point of logic overlooked by his friend, the note writer. His response was guarded, surprised and excited, at the same time. My young companion’s first reply was to explain that he’d intentionally selected me to sit next to because he thought I looked among the least likely to be able to read English, of the passengers he scanned upon boarding. A lot of folks in Israel thought I was Yemenite…
As soon as I engaged him in conversation he immediately launched into a measured but relentless barrage of questions about various metaphysical subjects. Had I read this book, or studied that discipline, and what did I think about that other thing? His Russian accent and imperfect English, an innocence natural to his age overlaid with a heavy, world-weariness and impressive knowledge of a range of esoteric subjects was at once endearing, intriguing and disconcerting.
He was 15 years old, a recent immigrant from Kazakhstan. He got off the bus where I did and followed me up Jaffa Street, like a puppy…
I didn’t quite know what to do – he was clearly starving for contact, so I gave him my phone number and said he could call me at any time.
His call later that evening caught me by surprise, having forgotten about the whole encounter. (I’d been on my way to a meeting with one of my professors that afternoon, which had shoved the strange interpolation of meeting the boy down the menu of items requiring immediate attention.) Surprise quickly morphed into a familiar sense of surreality as he began to explain a bit about his background. After a short while I realized that I was dealing with some sort of a bona fide boy magician. In the course of his exposition he mentioned something about a sword he had been given, and I heard myself asking him, in a tone one might use to ask a first grader about their day at school,”Was it a magic sword?” “Yes,” he answered softly. He was at once vulnerable and tough and searching for understanding and communion with an urgency that I understood all too well. I literally sank to my knees, resting on the cold marble floor in my sparsely furnished living room, holding the heavy, black, old fashioned telephone receiver in my lap, in shock.
It was the first time I’d come into direct contact with anyone from those circles outside of my own crew, much less a fucking kid, and given the PTSD I had escaped to the Holy Land to resolve, it ended up filed under “WTF.”
Things were pretty normal after that, I was working and studying, he was my ‘little friend,’ and I would buy him lunch and stuff.
Kind of like a big sister type thing. Mother, sister, friend. At one of those lunches, I mentioned the dream I’d had hours before we met.
“He told you his name??” asked the boy, who corrected my pronunciation of it.
“He’s my friend. I met him in the mountains, when I used to go up there.” His tone conveyed a controlled sense of amazement and .. protection, in a way, of his special bond with the being I had met in the dream, as if I’d snuck into a secret clubhouse. Still, he seemed pleased.
The mundane routine into which we had fallen resumed until, over the course of a few weeks, during which I was heavy into a neurotic obsession with a project I was working on, some Dead Sea Scrolls paper, he called repeatedly with what struck me as an odd series of questions about rather abstract subjects; God and destiny and I forget exactly what..
I answered in a regrettably condescending way, assuring him that we would be able to speak after I completed my ‘terribly important’ work…
He kept calling with these kinds of questions, and I kept blowing him off.
One day he called and said he needed to speak to me in person, would I meet him? He had to ask me something. I understood it was important, and agreed.
We meet at a cafe and he tells me the following story:
(He lived in a suburb outside of the city, in the desert just outside Jerusalem. Ma’ale Adumim. Lived with his mother, who he had supported in Russia by working as a fucking computer programmer. The kid was a genius.) Anyway .. The phone in his apartment had been shut off because his mother couldn’t pay the bill for a while, so he had been using a phone booth near his house. Cell phones were more common in Israel than in the states, at that time, but not yet so ubiquitous as to extend to poor, immigrant teenagers.
So one day he was in the phone booth and the phone rang.
He answered it, and some guy on the other end addressed him by name, in English. My friend said he sounded American. This American sounding man proceeded to ask the boy to locate a particular woman in Jerusalem, and get her away from some guy. Didn’t tell my friend HOW to find her, Just to find her and somehow free her from the influence of a dude she was involved with, to her detriment…I got the impression she played some role in the balance of forces, or something, but know nothing about her.
So – my little friend did. I have no idea how, but he found the woman and managed to separate her from the bad hombre in question.
I had been aware of none of this as it was going on, of course.
So the kid is in the phone booth again and the phone rings, and it’s the same American sounding man who had addressed him by name and given him that assignment.
He thanks my friend, congratulates him, and asks him if he would join forces with his group of warriors, because some shit was coming down the pike. At which point, my savvy Kazakh boy magician asks, “Who the fuck ARE you and why should I do anything for you???” At which point the mysterious phone guy says, “Why don’t you ask your friend, Victoria, if you should fight with us?” At which point my young friend called me and requested to speak with me in person.
I took in the boy’s story as we sat under the blue canvas umbrella outside that cafe on Emek Refaim (“Valley of the Giants,” as mentioned in the book of Genesis) and after a couple of minutes broke the silence that had descended between us like a delicate balloon, a silence unique to the liminal state that one enters when intentionally taking a certain fork in the road… “Yes.” I thought he should agree to join the cause, to fight with the unknown dude on the phone’s band of magical warriors. It had not been all that long since I had been more or less immersed in that world, so while it did, absolutely, blow my mind, the part of me that just automatically kicked into those gears was not far away.