Saturday, September 07, 2013

December 1973-February 1974: my gap year, part 5

In mid-December 1973, cold and rainy, we moved to Jerusalem, to the seminar centre in the southern part of the city where I had spent some very happy days in the summer of 1972. Unfortunately, the tone of the 1973 days was far removed from that of the previous year.

I wrote in the first part of this series that the group was heterogenous: this became most apparent during the Jerusalem stage when vicious arguments broke out all the time. Don't ask me now what they were about - probably nothing. I know that I was discontented because of our living arrangements. 

As opposed to the ten rooms which we had on the kibbutz, I think that we had five or six larger rooms, with obviously more people sharing a room. There must have been some wheeling and dealing before we moved to Jerusalem, because when we got there, I discovered that the 'compatible people' had already filled their room and I was to sleep with the 'incompatibles' or 'unwanteds'. 

I don't remember whether we continued our Hebrew studies but we certainly learnt about Jewish and Israeli history, both ancient and modern. Of course, the war cast a certain shadow over the studies. We came into contact with other similar groups, and I learnt some very interesting Israeli songs.

Forty years later, I remember virtually nothing of this time. I don't know whether this is because I blanked the memories of what happened or whether this is due to the natural process of forgetting things, especially if they don't ever get remembered. I do remember that at some stage we moved to Haifa for a week, although I don't remember whether this was directly after Jerusalem or after spending a week or two on the kibbutz.

Haifa was more lectures, mainly about contemporary politics - Haifa was definitely the appropriate location for this. Again, living conditions are the only thing which I remember: the rooms were for two people each, and my two room-mates decided that they would prefer to be with each other than with me. As a result, I found myself sharing with a girl who also was without a partner. Normally I would have been very excited at this situation, but unfortunately my relationship with this girl at the time was very poor: in my eyes, she was guilty of the crime of selfishness (God knows what I was like then) and we were barely talking. We laid down some ground rules at the beginning of the week then spent the following days as strangers in the same room, barely acknowledging the existence of the other.

At this stage, two new girls joined our group. Instead of spending the first few months on the kibbutz, they had gone directly to the seminar centre in an alternate programme. One girl was new to me (and I think to almost everybody) but the second was someone who I had known for a few years. We had played guitar and sung together so we became a musical duo. We may not have connected on a personal level, but the joint interest in music certainly made the sometimes hard days easier to bear. So hello, Erica and Abigail.

No comments: