Walking home from yoga I decided to cut through a pretty, tree-lined neighborhood.
On the way I noticed that someone had propped up framed art and a few boxes of stuff next to a garbage bin. I figured someone had moved out and just dumped the things they didn’t want so I crept closer to take a peek. My apartment was in need of a few decorative items.
Just then a head popped up from behind a wall.
“Take anything you want,” he said.
He filled me in on the details. His landlord had instructed him to get rid of everything. “Too many memories.” He told me some of the art was good.
“Do you know art?”
I didn’t. So it all looked good to me, even if the frames were crumbling.
We started chatting, the man and I. He looked around my age. He wasn’t wearing a shirt.
For some reason he asked me to guess what he did for a living and because I had just learned the word in Hebrew for engineer that’s what I guessed.
“Not even close!” he said. “I didn’t even finish high school.”
In a flash he suddenly appeared by my side and starting pawing off items. He was especially pushing an old samovar and an antique lantern, neither of which I wanted.
I picked up an old army backpack and read the name on it. “Who was Nuriel?” That was the old man’s brother. He died, I was told.
He pulled out a box with carefully wrapped itty bitty tea cups and saucers.
“I’ll take it!” I said.
And because this is Israel, he ended up walking me home. Along the way he said hello to an old lady who took both his hands in hers, looked him in the eyes and wished him much peace.
“What I love most about Jerusalem are the characters!” he said to me.
After we got to my place and put down all of my new fancy items, I introduced him to Trevor dog who refused to do any tricks, even though I described him as a “genius.”
“So now you’ll have to walk me home,” he said. “It’s only fair.”
That is exactly what Trevor and I did. We got a tour of his apartment, which was very nice. And I smelled some herbs from his garden. He told me a bit more about his life. He studies gemorah in the morning, does some work selling something connected to phone cards and visits his family a lot. He runs in the evening.
“Come by whenever you want,” he told me when I said goodbye.
“Avigail,” he called out as I turned back home. “I’ll be your friend!”