mercredi 23 avril 2008

Israeli days, part four

He was in town for some sightseeing before heading back to ‘Europe’. He was Canadian, although I suspect he was actually American. He had too many maple-leaf flags on his bag not to be.

He’d supposedly been making a Hollywood movie in the desert. He claimed to be a cameraman, which probably meant he was an extra, at best. Mel Gibson or Sly Stallone or Arnie had been in the film. He had lots of tales and lots of money.

He was mid-thirties, horny as hell and full of shit.

I ended up staying with him at the Nile Hilton for what felt like weeks, but surely it could only have been a matter of days. We lived off room service club sandwiches, whatever drugs the bell-boy could/would get for us and family sized portions of alcohol. Occasionally we’d make it down to the pool, or out to some party.

I don’t remember much of this period, just small things. I can’t remember his face or his name, but I can remember his body. I remember being drunk in the lobby of the hotel and how the waiters would look at us by the pool. And I remember that we were rarely alone. It was all about as fucked up as it gets.

One morning, with history repeating itself (but this time in my favour), while he slept, I left.

I got to the Sinai bus station, took the bus through the desert to Taba, and there crossed over the border to Eilat.

In Eilat, surrounded by over the top hedonism and the sheer luxury and opulence of the resort hotels, I realised how it was to have no money. The next morning, waking up at the bus station as people were stepping over where I lay to get on the bus, I realised how it was to have no friends.

How had this become my life? Something had to change.

My road to Damascus moment came on a road that, if you kept going through Israel, through Lebanon and into Syria would indeed have led to Damascus. It happened on a bus ride through the grey and barren Negev. With nothing to do but look at the desert; with sleep eluding me, and books an unaffordable luxury, it came to me.

For the first time ever I was clear about who I was, what I wanted and who was in control. I knew that it was all in my own hands and I could choose to sink or swim. I had reached a turning point.

Back in Jerusalem, I went down on bended knee and got my old job back at the hotel. The owner took my passport as a guarantee that I wouldn’t leave him short staffed again with no notice. I worked hard and drank less, staying off anything stronger than beer. I saved money and fell in with a decent crowd of travellers.

We partied lots in the coming weeks, and I was certainly no angel. But I had been tempered by Cairo, and was more cautious about pushing my limits too far. I was often the first in bed, and more often than not it was my own bed, alone.

In November, I took the bus up north with them, to the port city of Haifa. To the ferry heading for Greece, for Europe, for sanity and home.

14 commentaires:

Lola a dit…

Sounds like it was quite a ride, in many ways. Also sounds like 'growing up', 'finding your true self' and all those cliches. How long ago - '80's? '90's? Surely not more recent than that? I realise I don't have a clue how old you are...

aims a dit…

They wouldn't let my brother into Syria...something about his looks - the fact that his parents were furriers and his name being David - father's name being Joseph...you see where I'm going...although far from what our nationality actually is.

Amazing that something snapped your head around and set you on a far different course. Now you look at those homeless people as you travel and think back...am I right?

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Lola, it was in the (very) late eighties - summer of '89 to be precise. That makes me older than I want to admit to!

Aims, I don't know if homeless people make me think of those days - but they do make me think 'there but by the grace of god / allah / buddha go I'....

Medbh a dit…

I've always had the sense that getting mixed up with the Hollywood crowd would suck the life out of you.
Your post confirms it, Travelling.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Medbh, more than anything else that happened, that whole situation screwed me up the most - admittedly, I'd been pressing the self-destruct button for a while when he came along...

eguinan a dit…

What a great story.

There's a screenplay or two in there somewhere.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Enda, I'm sat here listening to your even more unacceptable in the eighties mix. Soooo good. I'd forgotten all about that Yazoo track. How is that possible?

Thanks for the nice words.

Swearing Mother a dit…

Travelling, definitely a book. Or a film. Or a screenplay.

Everyone, remember where you heard it first and remind him to take me to the Oscars with him.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

SM, it's a date.

I'm kind of enjoying writing this tale, even though it started only to tell Tornwordo about the cavity search (see part five...).

I'm thinking it might continue beyond Israel, although I worry that the blog will turn into my life story...

Valleys Mam a dit…

You must need to tell it ..... and its good to read
I stayed in Taba three years ago -that desert is a spooky place
I can see how so many biblical episodes happened there.
My Damascus moment happened in Solva and I so wish I had folloed through on all the decisions I made that day

Stew a dit…

Blogging your lifestory would be no bad thing.
I'd read it.

Was the Jerusalem thing your first gay encounter. Did you realise you were gay before that, or did that just confirm it?

eguinan a dit…

And thank you, sir. Glad you're enjoying the mixage. The Yazoo track is bloody amazing - way ahead of its time.

Anyway, seriously, when I was reading your tales, I got a real visual impression. It's got the lot, hon: drama, sex, adventure, coming-of-age, exotic landscapes....

Hollywood!

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Hi VM, Solva Pembroke? That coast is so lovely. So lovely.

And Taba - I saw some photo's of the Sinai/Taba recently - how it has all changed, I didn't recognise any of it....

Stew, thanks for the encouragement! If it answers your question, it was the first time I'd been in love...

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Enda, Cal-if-ornya here we come!

I wish. But I have the summer down as writing time, so let's see...