Our old homeboy Idan Raichel is crooning out of the speakers. It’s been a long time since I heard his voice. A long time since I spent time with anyone who’s heard of his music. I’ve forgotten most of my Hebrew, but Tiffany and I chime in whenever there’s a word or two that we still understand. Well – it’s been a good 9 years since we were housemates in Jerusalem.
A lot has changed and… a lot has stayed the same.
I downloaded Idan Raichel’s album off iTunes specially for this occasion. I’m not one for nostalgia – but when it comes to Jerusalem, I’m more than happy to relive the good old days.
“When your soul is filled with genuine wonderment,” he said, “it forms of the essence of your being.”
Tiffany’s behind the steering wheel driving me to San Francisco International Airport when it starts drizzling. This surprises me. My experience of the bay area thus far has been blue skies and blue seas.
“San Francisco is sad to see me go,” I quip.
Tiffany laughs. I smile. It was a short trip – it only lasted a week; but it felt a lot longer. Kinda like a month all jam packed into a short period of time. I learnt a lot. I lived a lot. And surprisingly, I also rested a lot. I thought I would be sad to leave – but mostly I felt happy that I got to experience all that I did.
It was my third time in the US, but my first time in the Bay Area. I must admit – I didn’t enjoy my first two trips to the US – so a part of me was reluctant to go there again. BUT – just cause things were crap in the past doesn’t mean they’ll be crap in the future. I’m glad I sucked it up and decided to go. I met some great people and ate some great food. Hey – I know what’s important in life. The culinary highlights were: the massive Mexican tortas and Burma Superstar.
Mmm mmm mmm. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
I’ve missed living in a multicultural city. I’ve missed meeting people from all over the world. I’ve missed not being gaikokujin. Of all the identities I’ve ever had – being a gaikokujin has been the strangest. Not Japanese. End of the story. I really don’t care for this label.
And that’s when it dawns on me. I’m heading back to Japan. I feel a familiar sense of dread. I’m trying to figure out when my feelings for Japan changed from happiness to indifference. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when this transition occurred; only that it did and now there’s no going back.
“Hey look,” Tiffany says as I contemplate the impending flight to a place where I’ve started to feel like a guest that’s overstayed her welcome, “it’s a rainbow.”
I gaze at the horizon – trying to find the rainbow in the clouds, sun and rain.
“Over there,” she Tiffany says, pointing at the sky that stretches out into the distance.
I search and search till I find it. And then I see it. Those seven blended colours smiling in the sky. I can’t remember the last time I saw a rainbow. And it’s a big one too – the semicircle variety that stretches from one end to the other. As we drive through it, I’m reminded of the Ten of Cups in the tarot deck. The simplicity of happiness. The rainbow that’s more important than the gold.
As we arrive at San Francisco, I release the weariness in my heart. I don’t want to go back to Japan all grumpy and grouchy. Life is short and I must make the most of things. Tiffany and I hug as we say goodbye.
“Next year in Jerusalem,” I say remembering that old prayer. “Next year in Jerusalem.”
I board the plane a couple of hours later. I stare out the window as the San Francisco skyline grows smaller and smaller. The familiar Golden Gate Bridge fading into my memories. I take a deep breath.
Someday over the rainbow. Someday over the rainbow.