Religion & Beliefs

Birth Writing: The Beginning Of The End

Sun, mud, sweat, booze, and pills. Just another day in Israel. Read More

By / March 22, 2011

I’m told – by women, mostly – that I snore when I’m drunk. That night would be no exception. Acacia kept elbowing me, hard, in the ribs. One such elbow connected; it was 4:45 AM. I breathlessly got dressed, got my notebook and stepped over the sleeping forms of my friends, ducking under the flap and out of our tent into the fading darkness of the desert night.

Under the rising desert sun, I wrote the last entry you might have read as I walked the grounds of our Bedouin fantasy, wrote as the owls stirred and the camels slowly rose from their slumbers and kept me company in the cool morning light. Beginning

We drove once again through the winding desert highways to the Masada, the rocky mountain cliffs in the Judean desert that once played fortress to our forbearers. Lungs burning, and sweat pouring, we climbed step after step; into the rocky cliffs we began slowly peeling away layers as the day became HOT.

It has been 8 days since I’d shaved and my scraggly beard, if you can call it that, was tinged red in the sunlight. I was a rough draft, a charcoal sketch of the cologne-and-hair-product days in Los Angeles, and I wasn’t bothered by it in the least.

We stood on steel rail catwalk and, each leaning far over the edge, used what remained of our stony voices to scream our names into the echoing valleys of old. (We also screamed Penis, though, because it is HILARIOUS.)

We boarded the bus again, sore and tired and sweaty. We had gotten exceedingly good at the complicated gymnastic routine that is living in a bus. You go left I go right. I go up, one leg on a seat, and you tuck and tumble below and with a back flip double-twist, we were all seated and comfortable and the bus still stunk like camel shit.

At the Dead Sea, we ate salami sandwiches and drank lukewarm mango juice. It was a nice moment – peaceful and warm and everyone was quite happy with each other and no one seems to mind. A lovely afternoon; I wish that I could live in it forever. We disrobed and flung ourselves into the water. You might have heard correctly: it is salty.

We ran across the beach to the mud side. The most fantastic, gooey, goopy, salt-crusted mud you’ve ever seen, you’ve ever mashed between your fingers and toes and spread over every inch of exposed skin in your natural life. We slipped and slid and glooped through the soggy mush. We posed as the mud caked to our skin and slowly dried in the sun. We made funny faces as we touched each other’s impossibly soft skin.

We dried ourselves on micro future travel towels that will now never ever be clean ever again. In the back of the bus we finished our mango juice and, entirely for health reasons, mixed in some vodka and shake the bastards up nice and easy. We leaned back, warm and soft and very much at peace, and watch the world go by as we snake down into Jerusalem.

Tragedy struck. A water pipe burst in our hotel and we had to be relocated for the night. Tragedy then unstruck, and we were relocated to the Panorama Dan, a five star hotel, where only the filthiest of rich people stay. We were very okay with this. Such glorious tragedy should befall us all!

After a week of kibbutz and tent living, to be in a real proper human hotel felt alien. We stalked the halls with reverent hush. A maid cart! A real live maid cart! Would you look at that! MINTS ON THE PILLOWS JESUS CHRIST ARE WE ROYALTY – WHO DIED AND MADE US ROYALTY!

I had elected to perform the Kiddush before dinner; the same prayer I’ve heard my father power through every Friday night for the better part of my lifetime. I know his lilt, I know his tone; I do my best to bring it inside, to take it from somewhere deep within, and press it back out into the world. There is much to be said for feeling like one’s father while in the holy land, all kinds of intense stepping-into-adulthood metaphors and assuming the mantle-type shit. I don’t even want to get into that. Let’s just say it felt right and we’ll move on from there, no?

We had evening programming in our activity room, and the AC was pumping full blast, and I’d been going on and going hard for nine straight days, and I’d been awake now since 4:45 at the Bedouin tents, and everything rushed up around me and my head pounded and my eyes stung and nothing was right in the world. I spent the whole lecture slipping into a fitful and powerful sleep, waking with starts, sweating, sweating, and sweating. This felt like death. I’d forgotten to pack any medicine whatsoever, and so once we were done, I threw on some sweatpants and shuffled, head in hands, up and down the halls, soliciting drugs.

When I’d amassed a small handful of rainbow-colored delights, with a shrug and a slug (or three) of whiskey (Look I’m on vacation and it probably won’t kill me, right?) I took the whole god damn cocktail, and about 45 minutes later, my bedroom still inexplicably full of people dancing, jumping, laughing, I slipped away into golden slumber and woke in the morning, refreshed, renewed and reborn.