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Sunday, June 29, 2008


I had a bad Mama day on Friday but made up for it with a perfectly wonderful day on Saturday.  We had a lovely day together with a morning spent at the playground, lunch at a nearby bagel place and then a wonderful afternoon and evening together.  C and Harry were around in the evening and Eliza enjoyed her time with all of us.  Then it was time for bed and she only wanted Mama.

I wonder what it will be like to not put her to bed for two straight weeks.  I worry about what that will do to our relationship but I have to keep it all in perspective.  I need money, I was offered a job.  I'm doing what I have to do and these two plus years at home have to count for something.

I want to travel back to a wonderful day in Israel.  After a week in Ramat Bet Shemesh, I felt pretty trapped.  I think I started to have a bit of a nervous breakdown.  It really started to hit me how gone my friends are, how little I'll see them from now on.  I had also put down a security deposit on an apartment and here I was in a foreign country, pretending all was well with C.  I felt incredibly guilty.  We'd been staying in a city where women covered themselves from head to toe by choice!  I heard more Hebrew than English.  Our first bus experience didn't make me confident about traveling alone.  

On Monday, three days after C arrived, he rented a car.  We'd planned to head to Masada that day but by the time he'd picked up the car and we found a map, it was well after noon.  We chose to head into Tel Aviv, about 45 minutes away.  I can't say I was excited about visiting the city.  I wanted to see history, not a city that sounded like Miami in the guidebook.

The Mediterranean Sea is more beautiful then I realized.  While Tel Aviv certainly felt like Miami, the Med cast it's spell.  Still I felt discombobulated.  Though I pretended to be in a better mood, I felt very depressed.  As we climbed the hill into Jaffa, the historic port adjacent to Tel Aviv, the Sea and the landscape was overwhelmingly gorgeous.  

We parked the car and posed for the obligatory photos in front of a stone wall that overlooked the Mediterranean.  The water was a clear and aqua blue.  Eliza saw the water and begged to go swimming.  We'd packed swimsuits and towels and made for the beach.  

C chattered cheerfully as we walked down to the shore.  I smiled, nodded, went through the motions.  Eliza wiggled and screeched as I spackled her with sunscreen.  We passed a cafe/bar on the water that looked incredibly inviting.  I longed to sit there with a glass of wine and watch the world go by.  Eliza rushed ahead, reminding me that such places are no longer possible.

I changed Eliza into her swimsuit on the beach.  C changed hidden by a stack of towels.  He and Eliza ran for the water but it was too cold and Eliza quickly rushed in the other direction.  He wanted to swim and left me to chase her up and down the steps of an abandoned lifeguard station.  

I didn't feel like being on the beach, no matter how gorgeous it was.  I was stuck in a foreign place with no ability to find my way out of the situation alone.  C said that I'm the sort of person who is easily overwhelmed once I step out of my comfort zone.  That's true in a way but I went to Italy by myself a number of times and greatly enjoyed the experience.  

I am fiercely independent.  Strip me of the ability to rely completely on myself and I'm lost.  I'd even managed to travel to a foreign country, rent an apartment and live alone.  Yes, I had a friend there to pick me up at the airport, to take me to the grocery store but ultimately, I could have stayed indefinitely in Ramat Bet Shemesh with Eliza.  I felt trapped because of the lack of transportation but I'd managed to enjoy the time we'd had alone together.  

But I couldn't be adventurous with her.  I couldn't sit at cafes and write for hours.  I couldn't spend two hours on a bus to the Dead Sea.  I was sitting on a beach, totally dependent on some one else to provide me with a ride home.  I didn't even have a cell phone should C and I some how get separated.  

And while he swam, I was stuck chasing Eliza up and down a set of rickety steps.  I wanted to put on my swimsuit and jump into the Sea.  

I looked at Eliza, and thought "I don't want to be a mother anymore."

C returned from the Sea and took Eliza on a walk along the shore.  I sat in the sand and watched them walk away, thinking how much I'd like to go home alone.  I wondered if I even loved her anymore.  All I wanted in those moments was my freedom.  I didn't want to be dependent anymore.  I wanted to be completely reliant on me.

Slowly they returned and as they approached I snapped photos.  I will post them later, these lovely photos of Eliza in her pink swimsuit, walking towards me with blue sky behind her head.  She smiled with a smile I hadn't seen before.  

"Mama," she said and held out her hand.  I opened my palm and she softly pressed down a handful of shells.  Her little fingers wrapped around mine.

"See Mama?"

I looked at the shells in my hand.  They were small, nondescript, white.  Utterly unremarkable.  Eliza smiled at me proudly and pressed her head against my chest.  Her hair was damp and I hugged her.  She looked at me again, smiling and seemingly waiting for something.
"Oh they're so beautiful!" I raved.  "You found such beautiful shells!  Eliza, these are wonderful!"  

Little kids and shells, I thought.  They collect them and think they're getting something special when shells are just as common as seagulls.  Shells sit in small boxes on dresser tops and fill up drawers for years, forgotten after only a few days.  Once you visit beaches on a regular basis, you learn there's nothing special about shells at all.

Eliza grinned, overjoyed by my false enthusiasm.  She ran back to her father and said, "Mama likes them, Daddy.  Mama likes the shells."

Only then did I realize, Eliza had given me the shells as a gift.  I'd thought she'd handed them to me to show me what she'd found.  I hadn't realized that her little mind would want to gift me with something.  Something small and round and white and beautiful.  Imagine how beautiful shells are to a child.  Imagine that child collecting them so she could give them to her Mama.

I snapped back to life in that moment, amazed by the thoughtfulness and generosity exhibited by my wonderful daughter.  I wondered how I could have created such a magical child.  The rest of the day was perfect.

I wish I could say the rest of the trip went well but it didn't.  I think I lost it completely on Tuesday night.  Again it boils down to everything that was going through my mind: the fear of being in a country that feels a little unstable, the bad food, the uniformity of the people in the town we stayed in, the lack of ability to get around the country by myself.

The joy of spending time with Meredith and her family again.  When would we all be together again?

But not once during the trip did I feel I didn't want to be a mother again.  I still have those shells in a pocket of the diaper bag I took to Israel.  I take them out and touch them from time to time.  I will keep them and treasure them.  I will never forget where they came from and the happy little girl who presented them to me, with a look of overwhelming pride.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Exhausted Ramblings of a Failed Mother

Tonight I feel like a complete failure as a mother.  I worked yesterday, the first day on my new job.  It was one day of reshoots for the show's pilot.  The day only went 13 hours, not too bad.  I even made it home in time to put Eliza to bed.  

I looked forward to spending the day with her today but somehow everything got a bit out of hand.  After C left for work, I realized we were out of toilet paper.  I also desperately need to go to the grocery store.  I had an interview scheduled for my freebie writing thing for the magazine in the morning and a get together with Catherine, the woman I'll be job-sharing with on the TV show in the afternoon.  Since the woman I interviewed for the magazine is a friendly aquaintance with a son close to Eliza age, I said yes when she suggested I bring Eliza and her nanny could watch both kids while us Moms did the interview.  

Bad move.  Getting out the door with Eliza in tow isn't a good idea when I don't have a lot of time.  At first, Eliza refused to play with my friend's son and the interview was interrupted several times.  The TV seemed to unite the kids in ways I'd never imagined (my friend's suggestion) and when it was time to leave, Eliza refused.  Eventually I coaxed her into the stroller but didn't get home in time to hit the grocery store.  With virtually nothing to offer her for lunch but yogurt, I quickly plunked her to bed for her nap and made one quick phone call.  

Catherine arrived and we went over some stuff for the job.  Eliza woke up and Catherine and I sat at the computer, creating forms we'd need for the show.  We went for a walk but I realized not shortly after leaving that Eliza had taken a massive dump and I hadn't brought diapers.  Catherine left and I was stuck carrying Eliza home.  It was a messy poop that managed to get all over my shirt and skirt.  The night just went downhill from there.  I got dinner on the table too late, she barely ate it, C walked in the door just as I was putting her to bed, wondering where dinner was which is often the case.  I never know when he'll be home.  I am so tired of his strutting in the door at 8:30 and wondering if we've had dinner yet.  It's his passive aggressive way of saying, "I'm home, feed me."

I hadn't had a fun day with Eliza, I wish he'd go to grocery store with a list or unload the dishwasher sometimes.  How about letting me know when he's used the last of the toilet paper and running turning on the dishwasher when his kids have dinner at our place?  Transition days--the days after I've worked are always tough for me.  I'm a little tired and out of sorts and have to adjust back into my role as house slave.  

I didn't have one fun moment with my girl today.  About an hour after I'd put her to bed (abruptly, I'll add, annoyed when she ripped one of her books), I went into her room to apologize for my lack of patience, my anger, the silly things I'd done wrong that day.

"Mama," she said softly, lifting her head.

I touched her cheek and said, "Eliza, I'm so sorry for everything I do wrong."

"Good night Mama," she said.  

I've got a lot on my plate right now and with so little outside help, I realize I'm not always going to be a fun Mom to be around.  But still, days like today are so hard.  Eliza and i didn't have one fun moment, I was simply too busy and too exhausted.  

I went into my room and cried, then read the script for my first episode.  It's good, in a gross way, but very, very tough to shoot.  I won't have as much time off between episodes as I thought because we will have a lot of second unit to shoot.  So I'm going to have transitional days, days like today constantly for the next five months.  I am trying to look at it as a gift, it is a gift to have a job when so many people are struggling these days.  

I'm 40 years old, I don't think I can do the hours anymore.  I don't want to be a tyrant with my girl.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Just because

And just because this is so freakin' cute, I must include this.  I sold my baby bjorn and my baby backpack on craigs list yesterday.  I'm not going to have another baby so I might as well clear some space on my shelves.  Eliza cried as the woman who bought the backpack left our building with her tiny baby on her back.
"I want my ladybug backpack!" Eliza cried.  I am not sure where the ladybug came from.  Earlier that day, when I'd put the backpack on to see if I could remember how it worked, Eliza saw it, shook her head and said "That's too small for Eliza."
Apparently, her feelings changed when I slid another baby onto another mother's back and said good-bye to my daughter's babyhood.  While corresponding with the mother who purchased the backpack, I emailed her this picture.  This is Eliza on C's back in Florence, Italy.  I had to share it with you...
Just because.


Mom went to the doctor today.  Her heart rate is too high and her pulse is through the roof.  They adjusted her medication.  I wish she'd head to acupuncturist or holistic healer at this point but I am not a doctor, I am not qualified to tell her what to do.  It's frustrating, knowing that her heart is not working properly and that she could have a heart attack at any moment.  I tell myself this heart attack thing, it could happen to anyone.  It's not much of a comfort.

The good news: the symptoms of internal bleeding have disappeared.  I am grateful.

Yesterday morning, I accepted the job on the new TV series.  I will be alternating with a good friend.  I will work for two weeks and then be home for about a week and a half.  I am already mourning the loss of my time as a full-time Mom and the life that I saw for Eliza and myself in that apartment away from New York.  I am stuck in New York with C for now.  If the show gets cancelled, I'll move out then.  If the show gets picked up for another season, I'll move out and hire an au pair.  Since I often have to leave for work in the wee hours of the morning, there's no way I can work in my field without a live-in.  I'm only committed to work on the show for five months (even less if the network pulls the plug right away) so I can't seek an apartment or an au pair just yet.  It sucks, frankly.  The very thing I need to make the break is keeping me here longer.

The apartment that I loved that I had to say good-bye had sliding glass doors in the dining room that overlooked a grassy field.  I see Eliza and myself sitting there for dinner and I think, what a nice life that would be.  I know the reality might be very different but this is the life I want.  Dinner with my daughter every night.  A life without him.  

Oh, how I dream of the ability to earn a living doing something else entirely, something that won't demand the kind of time and energy that this TV world requires.  

I took a magazine writing class this winter and hit it off with the teacher.  I thought she could be something of a mentor and have emailed her since the class ended in March.  On June 1st, I mentioned an essay I was writing about how parents in the United States are far more over protective than parents in Israel.  

She sent me a blanket email that she'd sent to several people searching for sources for a story she was writing.  Her story is apparently about today's hyper-parenting culture and how we are overwatching our kids.

Coincidence?  I don't f-ing think so?  Funny?  Not to me, not at first.  Now I find it amusing and realize how I've got to crank this essay and send it out.  It's apparently such a good topic, established writers feel compelled to steal it from me.

Maybe I've got what it takes to make it as a writer after all.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Day in the Life/Wednesday

8:11am, Wednesday morning, my cell phone rings.  I look at the number and realize it's the the producer from the job I interviewed for on Tuesday.  I'd decided to say no to the job but I wasn't ready to tell them, so I let the phone ring.  Two minutes later, my home phone rang.  I know they wouldn't call both lines to tell me they'd decided on some one else.  

I called my mother for reassurance.  She agrees that just because I say no to this job doesn't mean another TV series won't call me some time in the future.  I call the producer back and prepare my refusal as I listen to the phone ring.  The producer shocks me by asking me for the name of the person I'd like to alternate with.  

Quick explanation: sometimes script supervisors (my job) alternate on TV shows.  It's basically job sharing.  I work episode 10 and then kick back while the other script supervisor works episode 11 and then I return for episode 12 and so on.  Basically, I work for a week and a half, then have a week and a half off.  The time that I work, I work 14-16 hour days so it's far from a walk in the park.  But then I have a week and a half where I work a day or two from home and that's it.  I don't get paid for my week off but I'll take it.  Instead of not seeing my kid for nine months straight, I don't see her every other week.  It's about as doable as it gets in my line of work.

The producer had told me during the interview that alternating wouldn't work on this particular show.  I hadn't even brought it up, didn't even suggest it.  He made it clear that it wasn't a consideration.  To have them call me less than 24 hours to say they were considering it felt like quite a coup.  They'd liked me, they'd really liked me.

It's also pretty busy here in the TV world and there aren't a lot of script supervisors with solid television experience.  So maybe he realized he had to consider it or end up with no one.

I call my mother, ecstatic that they'd consider alternating.  She says she has good news too, that the doctor's office called to tell her to stop taking Coumadien.  She's been on this blood thinner in order to prevent a stroke since she went back into Afib (rapid heartbeat) this past winter.  Blood test reveal her Coumadien level is dangerously high and she must stop taking it immediately.  Why does she see this as good news?  Her body's been acting weird lately and she's relieved to have an explanation.  The drub also makes her very tired so she's happy to stop taking it.  We hang up, both happy.

My babysitter arrives for the morning and I head out to write and do errands.  I return to find Eliza freshly awake from her nap.  It's a a beautiful day and I pack up to take her to a nice playground along the river.  Eliza has fun running through the sprinklers and repeatedly filling a bucket with sand.  I call my mother from the playground to tell her what a nice day we're having and after two rings and get her answering machine.  The long beep lets me know she's got a lot of messages.  Suddenly, I wonder if that call from the doctor was good news.  I leave a message and ask her to call me later that night.

It's past six so I take Eliza home and make macaroni and cheese with broccoli and zucchini.  We eat around 7:30p, a time I consider way too late.  I excuse myself saying it's summer.  I put Eliza in the bath and while I get her ready for bed, the phone rings.  I need to get Eliza to bed so I check the caller ID and I'm relieved to see it's my Mom.  I get Eliza in bed and call my mom around 9p.

My mother spent the day in the hospital.  Apparently, the Coumadien levels and some other symptoms indicated internal bleeding.  They wanted to admit her but my mother refuses.  She's happy to be at home, not in the hospital.  She sounds okay, just tired and sick of spending half her time in a doctor's office or hospital.  We hang up and I look up some information on the internet.

So my mom could be bleeding internally.  It could be all kinds of things, many of them fatal or it could just stop on it's own with the elimination of the Coumadien.  I read accounts of people who'd lost family members due to internal bleeding and people who swore Coumadien saved their lives so please don't sue.

I talk to my mom again and she sounds great.  She is already feeling better, free from Coumadien.  I am not good at waiting but that's all I can do right now.  Wait and hope that whatever is going on in my mother's body rights itself.  

I go to bed and wonder how I'll swing child care if I take the job.  Even if I alternate, I'll still need some one to come at 5:30 in the morning when I leave for work.  Who's going to want to do that?  Will I have to stay with C longer, just so I can work?  It almost defeats the point of my returning to work in the first place.

And then I lie awake in the darkness and wonder if my Mom will be okay.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Dilemma

I spent Sunday looking at more apartments for my daughter and myself and found a nice place.  It's not in the neighborhood I'd wanted but it's a nice apartment and I think it'll make a lovely home for us.  After looking at several other places, I called the owner to tell her I'd take it.

As I was on the phone with her, my cell phone rang with a work call.  I interviewed today for the script supervising position on what looks to be one of the biggest new shows on TV this upcoming season.  If I agreed to do the show, I'd make a great salary, enough to free me from C for a long time.  I wouldn't be able to take the apartment I looked at on Sunday but I'd find something else and stay in New York.

There's always a catch and it's a big one.  With car chases and special effects galore, I can expect to be at work all the time.  The producer was honest during the interview.  He said if the show goes for a few seasons, I'll see my daughter again when she's five.

The hours I've complained about on television shows are not an exaggeration.  We report to work where and when we are told and we leave when they say we can.  Sometimes the locations are convenient, other times I'm in a van for an hour going to some remote park two hours outside of Manhattan.  Mondays start at with us arriving for work at 6:30am and end around 9:30pm.  Since the start time for the following day is determined by what time we finish shooting, I can't even say when I have to leave home until the night before.  

Can I do this kind of job as a single mother?  I want Eliza's home to be with me but if I work, her living with me doesn't make a lot of sense.  Although C works long hours too, he can be home for dinner more nights a week than I can.  Occasionally, he can work from home and he can adjust his hours if necessary.  His oldest daughter can babysit.  His brother's fiance works close by.  In a pinch, his son's babysitter can probably step in.  

Me, I got nothing.  So if I take the job, I have financial freedom from C but I feel like I risk losing my daughter in the process.  If only some one could assure me that I will find another job, create another career, one that will enable me to give my darling daughter the life I want for her, then I could say no to this without remorse.

Instead I sit here wondering, why I'd want to say no to something that will provide me the freedom to get C out of my life.  And I know why I don't think I can say yes, it's that little girl in the next room I'm so afraid I'll lose.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jerusalem, Part I

I'm going to return to Israel today and write about our first foray into Jerusalem.  Eliza, C and myself took a bus into Jerusalem on Sunday, the day after Rafi's Bar Mitzvah.  As we waited for the 418 bus, C asked a passing woman if the 418 took us into Jerusalem.  I'd told him that David instructed me to take choose the 417 over the 418 for some reason.

The woman smiled, pointed to me and said, "She'd have to sit in the back."  Then I remembered--David had mentioned the 418 bus had separate seating.  Orthodox Jews often separate men from women--if you read my post about the Bar Mitzvah you know I didn't get to see Meredith's son get Bar Mitzvahed because we sat with the women behind a partition.  But I didn't realize that separate seating meant I'd sit at the back of the bus with my squirmy, noisy toddler while C napped up front.  As we walked up the hill towards the 417 stop, C said, "Who are you, Rosa Parks?"

Traffic heading into Jerusalem is dreadful and it seemed like it took forever to get into the city that means so much to three of the world's biggest religions.  As we drove through the streets, I thought the city looked crowded, hilly and very ugly.  Hoardes of people dressed in dark clothes stood at bus stops.  The driver let us off on a busy street that didn't look much different from a city anywhere (except for the Arabic and Hebrew writing) and told us to grab another bus into the old city.  We managed to flag down a taxi and he dropped us off at the Damascus Gate.  David had told me to avoid the Arab and Christian quarters within the walls of the Old City section of Jerusalem, declaring them unsafe.  Now here C and I were, hauling our child down a series of steps when we realized we were in the wrong place.  We followed the walls of the Old City to another gate, also within the Arab Quarter.  

I was so frightened, I didn't even realize the street felt wonderfully quiet and lovely.  C asked an Arab man for directions and I yelled at him, convinced it was foolish to ask for directions in an unsafe neighborhood.  As we walked, it soon became clear that the biggest group of people in this area were tourists and that we were fine.  The streets were the width of a sidewalk broken into a series of steps.  Walking through the Old City is like walking up an endless staircase.  There areas that are flat and don't involve steps are rare.  As we neared the Jewish quarter and the alleyways became more crowded.   The Old City is not where you want to be if you've got a small child and a stroller.  

Eliza fell asleep as we passed through the security gate to the large plaza that surrounds the Wailing Wall.  Much of the Old City is covered; it's hard to describe what I mean by this.  The streets are covered or so narrow, I felt like I was inside an indoor flea market.  When we came out to the wailing wall, the shock of the sun caused me to shade my eyes.  I took in what was left of the great temple Herod built more than 2,000 years ago.  A giant wall comprised of sand colored rock climbed towards the sky.  I stood with Eliza while C donned a cardboard yamulke from a small box at the entrance of the men's side.  People young and old passed into the prayer areas while a speaker blasted the Muslim call to prayer.  The wailing wall lines a small hill or temple mount as it's called that now houses a mosque known as the Dome of the Rock.  The golden dome gleamed so brightly in the sun, it hurt to look at it.  I've heard that the air feels remarkably different up on that hill that overlooks the Old City.  According to the guidebook, there was only one way for a non-Muslim to get up to the Dome of the Rock.  We never found that way.

Having successfully found one of the holiest sites in the Jewish world, we followed a crappy map in the guidebook to the Jaffa Gate and the tower of David museum.  At this museum, we saw ruins, models and a film that told the story of Jerusalem's 5,000 volatile years.  The top of the highest tower offered a spectacular panoramic view of the Old City.

Knocking two main sites off our list, we tried to find the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  This church houses chapels for four nationalities in the Christain faith; Greek Orthodox, Latin (Roman Catholics), Armenian and Copt (Egyptian).  The Church of the Holy Sepulcher's big claim to fame is that it's believed to be the site of Jesus' execution.  Three stations on the Via Dolorosa, the path Jesus was said to make through Jerusalem on the way towards his death, are marked within the church.  Inside the church, you could climb a set of deep steps and be on the hill known as Golgotha, the place of the skull, supposedly the ground where his cross was raised.  

Unfortunately, we couldn't find the church.  Armed with a paper map from the tourist's office, we repeatedly found that streets the map noted didn't exist.  Windy steps and alleyways hinted of places that might lead to the church, but these streets felt ominously empty.  Because the skyline is not visible throughout much of the Old City, we couldn't even look for the dome of the church.  After literally dragging the stroller and Eliza for hours, we finally gave up and decided the church perhaps didn't exist.  Ending up at the wailing wall again, with the Muslim call to prayer reverberating through the streets, we worked our way back to the Damascus gate to seek out Ben Yehuda street, a place the book noted as good for dining.

All we found were various hot dog, falafel and other fast food choices.  We sat at an outdoor table and watched Eliza eat an enormous hot dog while C ordered a falafel.  I felt exhausted, defeated and virtually unimpressed with Jerusalem.  I'd so wanted to fall in love with this holy place.  While I found it interesting and vaguely fascinating, it also felt a little too foreign to me.  The Hebrew and Arabic lettering, the lack of bathrooms, the dearth of healthy eating choices all felt overwhelmingly intimidating.  I wanted to be a happy traveler, traipsing around a strange city with my daughter at my side.  Instead, I wanted to cry and thump my shoes together in a desperate attempt to  go home.

The day ended dreadfully with a too-long walk to the bus station.  Once there, it became very difficult to find out exactly where we could get on a bus to Ramat Bet Shemesh.  An indoor board listed buses and gates but we only saw the words Ramat Bet Shemesh in passing, while the board changed over after several buses departed.  C asked the person who sold us our tickets and she said vaguely "Outside."  Once outside the station, dozens of different kiosks listed bus numbers but we didn't see "417" anywhere.  Heading back in for a third time, passing through the metal detectors and over to the elevator, we literally ran into the caterer from Rafi's Bar Mitzvah.  He was on his way back to from the barbecue Meredith and David hosted for Rafi's school friends.  The caterer remembered us, the proud parents of the energetic-two-year-old whose main goal in life appeared to be toppling the tray of treats he'd carefully laid out.  He was kind, gracious and took us outside to physically point us to where we had to go.  It turned out the 417 bus left from a different street entirely and the kiosk wasn't marked.  We would have never found this bus had we not run into the caterer.  

On the bus, C and I sat separately, not because we had to, the bus was simply too crowded.  C was relieved by this turn of events.  He'd put up with my grumpy, nasty, "I hate this place" all day.  He was done with me and I was done with Israel.  I handed Eliza to him and sat back, hoping the trip home wouldn't feel as long as the trip into the city.  Eliza chattered happily on the seat behind me and eventually came up to sit with me.  She pointed to the woman seated beside me who was reading and highlighting a book written in Hebrew.  "Mama, is that your friend?" she asked,  "Is that girl your friend?" 

The woman, a black woman I would guess to be in her mid-forties, smiled and responded positively to my noisy and all-too-active daughter.  She spoke perfect English and I found myself seriously wondering who she was and what was she doing in this place.  She asked Eliza her name, Eliza told her and then asked the woman's name.

"This is a tough one," the woman said.  "LeGott."  

After a few attempts, Eliza only seemed capable of saying "Gott."  The woman smiled and got off.

"Where's Gott going?"  Eliza asked.  "She going to see her Mama?"

I explained to Eliza that LeGott had to get off the bus, that this dark street in the middle of who knows where, must be where she lives.  But of course I have no idea.

To this day, whenever Eliza sees a bus she asks about Gott and then says "She went to see her Mama!"

I think we would still be wandering around that bus station in Jerusalem had we not run into Meredith's caterer.  Meredith loved this story and told me that there's always stories like this when people visit Jerusalem.  That it's the kind of city that elicits events that seem to be orchestrated by a higher power.

I suppose that's one way to look at it but since I am a bit of a non-believer, I just see it as damn lucky.