Tag Archives: films

The Mysterious Texture Of Memory

Below is the final segment of ‘The Mysterious Texture of Memory,’ a new short story—based, however, on my award-winning short memoir, the ‘Sweet Life.’

But the need to find out the meaning of the words in the film’s title remained. And so was the need to learn the name of the actress I’d fallen in love with on the roof that night. It would take some years, though, before I would find that out. Not before graduating from high school; not before serving in the army’s paratroops brigade (jumping was my thing, I concluded); not even after returning to the kibbutz and working for a year in its grapefruit orchards. Where it so happened that driving a tractor on the summer road one hot day, I heard an inner voice calling on me, instructing me to leave the kibbutz, conquer the world and find that woman.

My first stop was the big city of Tel Aviv. And it was there, in a small art-house cinema theater that I joined an all-night retrospective and discussion of Fellini’s films. Among them, of course, La Dolce Vita: The Sweet Life. Starring Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg.

I never met her at the end. I never made it big enough as a filmmaker. And though I’d made some films and had met some film stars, our roads had never intersected. And then she died. Just like my two friends, both of them dead now. And even though when I’d left the kibbutz—a backpack with some clothes on me, some change jingling in my pocket, the rhythm of the wheels beating the open road piercing my heart—I hadn’t heard yet of the saying about the world being a book, about the need to travel if one wants to read more than one page; innately, I knew what I had to do.

But now, as I keep staring bleary-eyed at the old picture of Anita Ekberg on my laptop’s home screen, I’m baffled still by the mysterious texture of memory. How it comes and how it goes. How hard it is sometimes to decipher its meaning. And yet, I’m thankful to her for tempting me to leave my birthplace. No regrets now, or almost none, in my old age. Because if life is but a fleeting moment, then that was my moment: Lying there on the roof under the bright stars, a sprinkler raining cold water on me, the people of my beloved village lying on the grass below while she—a woman of celluloid dreams—was having fun under the fountain.

So no regrets now, in my old age, for being tempted by her to leave my birthplace. Well… maybe some regrets. Especially on my walks by the river bank, where on the meandering horse trail, beneath my feet, I can still feel the ground of those narrow dirt paths of my home village. As if I never left.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Literary, Media

The Mysterious Texture Of Memory

Below is the seventh segment of ‘The Mysterious Texture of Memory,’ a new short story—based, however, on my award-winning short memoir, the ‘Sweet Life.’

I wished it were me down there, under the fountain with that mythical goddess. This fabulous creature from Rome, or elsewhere in Europe. Or from the moon, smiling on me knowingly from above. I didn’t know women like her, looking so unearthly, even existed. Or could exist. Blood was shooting madly through my body, from my heart to my head and down. I fell in love with her right then and there, not knowing her name, and forgetting all about Nechama, my elementary school teacher.

Maybe that was the reason why—a strong, sudden infatuation, feeling so very hot—I welcomed at first the shower of cold water raining hard on me. It made me feel as if I were down there with her, under the fountain. Problem was: though it was a hot early summer, the nights were still rather chilly. I was wet down to my bones soon, shivering madly, while up on the screen the man took the half-naked woman away from the fountain in his flashy sports car.

At the same time, my hold on the tin roof got slippery, and I felt myself sliding down despite all my efforts to hold on to my blanket. Not only I fell in love that night, but I fell from the roof as well, since the rope and carrots’ box had inexplicably disappeared. My coward friends, the schmucks, had taken with them all evidence when they fled.

Or the man who’d turned on the sprinklers had done that. Either way, I half jumped down, half fell from the roof, twisting my ankle badly when landing. And as I limped up to my class-house by the mountain, where King Saul and his son Jonathan spilled their blood fighting the Philistines, I left behind a trail of blood of my own, gushing down from my wounded chin. Worst of all: my wet winter blanket—my initials imprinted on it, sewed with a red thread—had remained at the scene of the crime.

From there, naturally, it all went downhill. Summer camp, with the promise of meeting boys and girls from different kibbutzim for fun in the sun, was fading out quickly. Fading in instead, threatening to bring with it only sweat and toil, was a long summer of working in the fields. Life as I knew it and loved it, was over for me.

Leave a comment

Filed under Culture, Literary, Media