I woke up, late morning, last night’s show was one of those amazing ‘the whole room was one’ shows. I have nothing to complain about, knowing I am blessed to have achieved this, except that today was really fucking hard.
Before I dared move my body this morning, before I even opened my eyes, I checked myself to see if I knew where I was. Upon waking, I still had the imprint of my room in Jerusalem, where I’d just been for a couple of weeks, at my parents’ place. I’m in a different city now, Berlin, yes, Berlin now, not Jerusalem. But I can still smell the Jerusalem room smell, clean, but with fine desert dust that settles no matter how much you clean. I can still feel the incredible amount of light that enters the room there, the energy of my mother passing in the hallway, beyond the door. But she is miles away now as is my father, whose shoulder I literally cried into last week when the details of the violence of the day got to me.
I’m in Berlin now, not Jerusalem, but I am still flinching, and then I am flinching from my flinching. I feel crazy, but know I am not. No matter. I am ok enough to know what’s what, a side-effect of intensely harsh reality and par for the course of my life. I know I’m ok. I feel weird in the transition, that’s all. It will pass, and then maybe it will feel worse, because I won’t know why I feel the way I do.
I did not really remember my dream this morning. Some days I do and it lingers for the first few hours, but today I woke up with where last night ended off, which was a little raw for other reasons. It was after my show, a conversation with an unfairly handsome man about my fragility (his word, not mine, a word I doubt a woman would have used about me last night). I remembered agreeing to this fact of my being, fragile, I remember liking his intense observations of me and his specific responses to my songs. Whose ego wouldn’t like that attentiveness of gaze? He graciously walked me home under his umbrella, further discussing my fragility. I felt understood, and grateful for it. Finally, someone who doesn't think, "oh what an easy breezy life you lead." I felt sorry to cut the conversation short by arriving at the building where I'm staying, sorry to not be able to offer shelter from the rain, as it was not, after all, my shelter to offer. And then I remembered that when I was falling asleep after seeing him walk on to his home in the night’s rain, after coming up the stairs and going to bed with my clothes still on, too tired to change, that for a moment I was angry and hurt that he should have had the gall to call me, ME, fragile. I wondered how much my fragility has to do with learned timidity, with fear of acting out my full being in conversation, in public, without a melodic mask. I wondered if my only options are fragility or brazen angry madness. I wondered if it was a man thing. A woman thing. He meant no menace in his words, I know, and yet it felt a touch patronizing, if not vaguely predatorial. I assume he meant neither but genuinely just liked the show and the conversation and was curious about me, asking a good interviewer’s questions. Still I went to bed feeling angry and uncomfortable with my own ego, with the fact that I was so observable as a performer, and so observed before and after the show, at the bar. If I’m a thing of curiosity, sure, it makes sense. I have made myself a public figure. I wear and share my heart on my sleeve. So, yeah, go on, draw incomplete conclusions, share them with me or don’t. If I pretend I don’t care, I’m dishonest. If I care too much it’s a flaw. I wondered how many more years of meeting handsome men at bars who like me for my fragility and for my brazenness and then walk home to their girl-friends and wives and children and safety and security and stability I will encounter. I wondered how many people know how much loneliness comes with this ‘freedom’ of mine. Sure, I've had my opportunities for domesticity. I ran from them all. Mostly because I had to. I wondered how much of our well-being depended on our chosen and fickle narrative of ourselves.
I stewed on this awhile this morning, still in the position I woke in. Before I dared turn my body I made sure my spine could handle the motion. I squeezed in my stomach muscles, and gently drew my knees towards me, and only then turned slowly. If this happens without ache, it is a good sign. If there is ache, it means at least a half an hour of mandatory stretching lest my back seize up on me later. This morning my back didn’t ache. A bonus.
Nowadays, it isn’t only the spine I have to check before rising. I put my injured feet down tentatively. There are stretches I should do before I even put them down, but I am lazy. Too many different strethes to keep track of. I reached for the bandages that compress and support my arches. I had to pee. I was groggy and desperate for coffee but remembered that I should swish the coconut oil I bought yesterday for those 10-20 minutes because I believe it helps even if it maybe doesn’t, and I can use all the placebo effect I can get. Two days ago I had an alarmingly nagging toothache, but only for a couple of hours. It’s better now, gone except for the memory of it. I read toothache can be hormonal. Maybe it was psychosomatic. I have no idea. Prevention is everything. I put a tablespoon of it in my mouth. Swish. I suddenly remembered how my jaw popped last night during the show while I was singing, and how I had to open my mouth less afterward, move it more carefully. One of these days I fear the springs that hold me together will pop right out of my body and there will be a crumpled hinge-less me on the floor. Oh, I know, people suffer and have suffered far worse. It is a matter of observation of changes, more than it is a complaint, but it is also fear of more pain later, of decreasing ability to perform my tasks. Of the general depressive mood that pain causes, and vice versa. It is a not too keen dialogue with my body about aging.
I walked to the bathroom, my left arch twinged hard, even with the bandage, I grimaced and groaned. Plantar fucking fasciitis. What next, body?
Coffee. I made it while the coconut oil was swishing in my mouth. The mirror I passed on the way and looked into reminded me I have a bunch of new grey hairs at the side of my head. I care and I don’t care. Ok, I care. But I’m not going to dye it. It is what it is. But how can I be old enough for grey hair AND still have pimples? That really gets me. I checked my waistline while I was at it. I don’t want to care, but I do. I don’t know if I hate my waistline more than I hate myself for hating it. The latter, I think. I reminded myself of the meme that said something like “we don’t owe beauty to anyone.” Good. I’ll be ugly today. Doesn’t matter, I figured. I don't care, but I do.
The coffee could have been better, but it was with rice milk. Soy milk was no longer doing it for me. Almond milk is a whole euro more over here. I had to stop with the real milk because it was puffing me up and I looked pregnant. The last thing you want is to look pregnant when you’re not, especially when you’re in your now late thirties, and the fact that you’ve never been pregnant and most likely never will be is a ‘thing’ you don’t want to be reminded of by looking pregnant. Too freaky. The coffee is certainly tastier with real milk but I’d rather not be bloated. Hell, a half a pack of smokes would be tasty today too, but you’ve got to make choices. Trying to be healthy is a drag. I tmakes one feel fragile.
I wasn’t hungry for breakfast, but I looked to see what was around. My gluten free bread was almost run out but there were a couple of slices left and I planned on some toast once I was hungry. There were eggs and some greens I could add to them. No cheese of course. Puffy puffy. Whatever. As much nutrition as I can get for as little money as possible, is my general motto. But here I have access to friends’ fridge and food. That’s crazy generous. I try to nibble at things without greed. But I’m also trying to figure out what bugs my stomach. So I try as much of an in-tune-ness as I can muster regarding what my body is craving for nourishment. It is of course, mostly craving a lengthy cuddle. Yes, that is part euphamism. Yoga and a hot shower will have to do instead. Lengthy cuddles come with complications.
I sat down, stared at the laptop, thought of what to post today, looked at messages, responded to messages, worked on winter show-bookings, read a bunch of posts as my eyes started to focus and the caffeine started to work itself into my bloodstream.
I was so tired. Two shows back to back where I gave it my all and two more to go this week. Two great rooms where the audience hung on every word, where I told my stories between the songs, and they listened and laughed at all the right moments, where I could see and feel them connecting. This is my magic. This is what I live for. This. I have become very good at this. It is not a surprise when people like it anymore. It is not even a vindication (anymore). It just is. I’ve earned these skills. This is what I do. This is no longer a question. But it is. I like it while it is happening. I don’t like the before and after.
I saw my reflection in the laptop screen, caught myself daydreaming instead of working. Again those grey hairs, and, och, the saggy skin. I’ve earned these skills and these grey hairs and this skin. I am not at the beginning, up-and-coming part of this career. Career. I hate that word. Career would imply viable income. I’m not at the end of it either, though I feel somewhat of a tired veteran. A young gorgeous Italian woman came up to me yesterday at the show. She wants to do it too. She sings and plays guitar. I was the wise mother hen there, with the advice to dispense, not the young woman. And it was all "go for it," not, "oh my God, don't do it." It’s alright. I’m not that old, but it sure is changing. I don’t care, but I do. I am helpless in this regard anyway.
A few more sips of coffee, I sent my sister a facebook note saying I’m sorry I left her in the middle of a war. That it is not with a full heart I go forward and do my shows. It is not with flippant disregard to what’s happening there (though I know she knows that). She wrote back, and we agreed that the saddest part of it is how the personal fear is bringing about more racism. She said she wasn't in the least mad at me for not being there. I don’t know who to talk to about this. When the adrenaline from the shows settles, when there is a lull in the conversations with my audiences, when I am once again alone, and even when not, it is Jerusalem my mind jumps to and I tense up, my breath shortens, what am I doing here? What could I possibly be doing there? What am I doing anywhere?? Och.
Fragile, he said. Maybe just sensitive. Maybe just raw from over-exposure of myself to others, the relative one-sidedness of it . But it’s your choice, Orit, you chose to do this. Yeah, but did I? He even asked why I wasn’t married, why no children, not in the judgmental conservative way some people ask, but more to imply that perhaps I never wanted those things, even though I am plainly not the type to flat out not want those things (he said, and I agreed). It had been too much to answer adequately under an umbrella in the night rain. Maybe that's why I'd gone to bed angry.
I sat there, this morning after, still in my pyjamas and robe, still on the coffee and laptop, and put on the last mixes of my new album, needing to finalise them. It too is fragile. Extremely. The most fragile thing I have ever recorded. Not timid, just fragile, beautiful, and a little bit ugly. No pretention. It’s soothingly melancholy, but today, listening to it, I was depressed by it, because what the hell am I doing? I mean, really, what the HELL am I doing? How surreal is it, writing songs, recording them, performing them, sharing them, letting seven, eight years go by with no other task getting more of my focus. What is it all about?
Maybe I just needed more coffee. I made more coffee.
He’d said I transformed on stage, from the fragile one he was talking to before the show, into .. something else. He'd said that it was a surprise. I know about this transformation. I feel so much safer on stage than off it, once the nerves dissipate and I’m into the song. I know what to do then. And music comes out of my body and I can make it and hear it at the same time, and everyone watches as I finally let go. I am truth and I am sometimes, beauty and I am sometimes ugliness, but I am truth, or at least the intention of truth. I don’t mean it arrogantly, I just mean, I know I’m not bullshitting when I’m up there, and every other moment of my social life, I am not too sure about that. I try to be honest but my self-consciousness makes me talk inadequately and if I'm not shy it is a confident seeming banter that I'm not sure is me. I watch myself from above in conversation. I watch myself from within in song. Singing is the only way I can crawl out of this confusion. I sing my heart out, with sore jaw, sore feet, sometimes sore back, my hair over my face sometimes and I am certain I look a bit like some freak, but I don’t care. But I do. There is a touch of defiance there and still a touch of timidity. There is defiance in some of the songs. But who am I defying? Probably only myself. I don't care, but I do.
In the shower, hot, soothing, I thought about this more. It feels like there is a giant hand pulling me, a force greater than my will that makes me book more shows, and keep this train going. How would I stop it anyway? Why would I? I’m writing these songs, I’m playing them, I’m surviving, am I not? Is this not viable?
Is it ....... an addiction?
Is it an addiction if it gives other people comfort, beauty, thoughtfulness, as people claim it does? There is some sacrifice to it, but if it is so, then unlike other addictions, it is truly for others as well as for oneself. What else can I do? I can't stop it now.
I dried myself off.
Yoga. I needed a break from the computer.
Then my friends came home and I was glad to turn my thoughts off to make room for their conversation, to ask them about their day.
By night time I had played another show. Number three. Great sound, cathartic performance, messier hair, louder, and I was seated for the first set, because my feet hurt and I was jittery. It's ok. I've learned how to look cool singing from a chair.
The show was followed by an exciting and engaged conversation with the producer of this new fragile album. He is also unfairly handsome. And he talked of how I could do this all better, or at least how it deserves better, my music deserves better, and we are proud of our project and excited about it, and I agreed, and we were focused, and still there was a part of me that fidgeted and played with my hair non-stop while we talked and I hope he didn’t notice this but what do I care, anyway. I don’t care, but I do. And I was frustrated because of course my music deserves better but don't you think if I knew how to 'get it' I would have 'gotten it' by now?
And I got back to my Berlin room, after he too, walked me home in the rain. (I held my own umbrella for this one). And we bade each other good night and once I took my shoes off upstairs I realized how much my feet hurt, and then I lay down on the bed and tried to listen to our mixes again, but my feet hurt more than I could handle it and it distracted me. I looked for some Tylenol. And I resented my loneliness. I resented that I wanted to tell someone how much my feet hurt but wasn’t sure who. And I wanted someone to take care of me, but I mean really take care of me. Take my songs and shop them out, get my groceries so I can not-overdo the walking while my arches heal, (oh God, I hope they heal) make me a sandwich, book my shows, pick me up, drive me around, love me, cuddle me. And then I started sobbing. And I remembered the kindness of a small few who, over the years, held me in their arms through my sobs. And I sobbed harder for having let them go.
And I thought I could confide all of this to a caring stranger. And I guess I am.
I know I have a blessed life. And I’m just tired. And It’s all ok. It’s been ok and it will be ok. I live a life of luxury in many important ways. It’s just that some days are really hard, even when nothing goes wrong. I just wanted you to know.