A Year of Winter
We arrived in London. This is the eighth day of isolation, and we're still strong and healthy.
My friend, Papaya, asked me if I was flying to London because the situation in the motherland is horrible and asked if I was trying to avoid it. I wanted to say yes, that's the reason, but I told the truth. I wanted to first make sure I was indeed departing South Africa, where flights to Israel were cancelled in stocks, and you have no control over your life. From London, it'll be easier to fly.
Of course, I'd preferred to have returned to Israel. First of all, because in times of global conflict, it's always best to be with your people. The second reason is that winter haunts me to the bitter end. I love winter, but after almost a year of winter, the body needs some sun. I was stuck in South Africa just as the summer was coming to an end. Now winter ends there, and I'm in London, where it begins. When I get to my country, it will be December. Winter. Winter all the time and everywhere, above and below the equator, behind and beside me.
It's been raining nonstop since we arrived, and that has put me in a mood to sit down and write and let off some steam.
So the flight was surreal, more than expected. It's not just the masked crowd and the social distancing that makes you feel like a sheep on the way to the slaughterhouse. It's mostly the airlines, which have taken the guidelines a little too far. The basic right to have a drink or cup of coffee on the plane was taken from us without warning. During 16 hours, we were served two rolls, each the size of a tennis ball. Then, at border control, you're asked if you're experiencing weakness or headaches. You want to say, "Yes. I haven't eaten all day."
I don't usually name names, I think it's immature, and it's not anyone's business either. Still, after such an unpleasant flight, I'm sure Turkish Airlines will also be able to handle a little bother. We arrived in London hungry and exhausted at the height of pouring rain.
Like airlines that save on food prices and wages for flight attendants these days, so too do governments use this situation to their benefit. Emergencies have always been, it seems, a reason for experimentation. When authorities declare an emergency, they can break their own rules. In South Africa, for example, residents turned into lab rats when the sale of alcohol and cigarettes were outlawed. A kind of let's-see-what'll-happen experiment. People get confused; they can't distinguish between regulations designed to keep them healthy, and regulations designed to support government interests.
I've always approached politics, like religion - as a filter. The way religion works and the way politics works is that they make you see the world with a lot of default settings that were activated before you were born, and the world allows you to change the settings within the existing options. Like a new phone, if you will. Or like telling a child, "You can take a shower before or after dinner." He thought he had a choice, but he'd still get wet.
This, for me, is the world; now and always has been. The heartbreaking thing is that it's not that you have, as people often like to believe, the good guys and the bad guys, and the bad guys know they are the bad guys as they smoothly manage a burst of loud evil laughter with echo effects. Meanwhile, the good guys look across the hill and say, "Yeah, they're definitely the bad guys, and we're definitely the good guys. We have to stop them and do the right thing."
And it breaks the heart. Because politics, like religion, are divided groups of suits who make mistakes and do it because they think it's right. The sad thing about people is that the more you get into their heads, the more you realise that there are no good or bad ones, only people who were taught to believe their side is right. What a tragedy it is to be human.
And that, I think, is the positive side of everything I've been through, being locked out of my country and having to wander about since the world got infected. If I were home, sunk deep in rent and unemployment and not free to travel and write and forget about all of it, I'd go mad. When I can't or won't fight something, like a pattern of behaviour or an operating system that doesn't suit me, I turn my back and walk away. I turn the phone off. And I can go where I want, within the existing options.
Only let it be summer, this time.