Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Never look back.
The trip to Haifa with the girls was fun, but a bit weird for me. I thought I'd find it difficult to find my way round, but it was as if I'd never left. I didn't have a map and I was sure I'd get lost. But the car just seemed to take me to wherever I wanted to go. Everything looked strangely familiar, like it had all appeared in some vivid dream I once had, the kind you never forget. At the same time, it all felt like I was seeing it for the first time. I left Haifa twenty years ago. I never lived there as an adult.

The weirdest was the drive down Carmeliya, my old neighborhood. I haven't really been there since I was nineteen. R.T. had an apartment there about twelve years ago for a while, so I passed through a few times. Did I really live here? Didn't this street used to be one-way? Is that the supermarket? Was it always that teeny? Oh, look they built a roundabout. What's that horrible monstrosity they built on the empty plot where I used to pick Sabres fruits?

Our old apartment building, once the most impressive on our street, looked shabby and ugly, desperately in need of a renovation.

The truth is I didn't go back to the old neighborhood. The old neighborhood doesn't exist. But looking at it as a visiting stranger, I think it could have been a nice place for some kid to grow up in, back in the seventies. And it was, actually. Half of the buildings that now sport peeling yellowing plaster were not there back then. There were just empty lots, each with its very own private pine tree wood, perfect for climbing, building tree-houses, and learning about Mount Carmel's natural flora.

It's strange for me to think that people I used to know are still living there, in the same apartments. I wonder if they realize how much their surroundings have changed. Or maybe they haven't. Maybe it’s me that has changed. I've moved on and I've been too busy to look back. And maybe I've been happy enough with my life to not need to wallow in nostalgia.