Updated: Jul 30, 2020
I used to have money. Just a second, let me rephrase that: I once had a bad joke that answered to the name: "My savings." She was my only hope, and today, may she rest in peace, she became banking history. It's okay, wipe your eyes... sweet of you. The thing is, Karma has something personal against me, but I don't know what it is. And I don't know if you've heard, but she's a bitch. I'll give you an example. Three summers ago, my ex, my then-boyfriend, gave me new and expensive Ray-Ban sunglasses. If you ask yourself, no. He's not loaded, he got them as a gift from his father and thought they weren't suitable for him. Two summers ago, my friends invited me to a music festival. They performed there with their band, and I joined as a guest. Which means I didn't have to pay at the entrance. In preparation for the festival, I took out my sunglasses to inaugurate the summer. Then on the third day, they were gone. I searched for them throughout the camp and couldn't find them. I thought I might find them when packing, but no. They were gone. Try to follow: I received the festival tickets for free as a guest. I received the Ray-Bans for free from the boyfriend. The value of a ticket to the festival was about the same price as that of the Ray-Bans. It was the beginning of summer. If I didn't get free entrance to the festival, maybe I wouldn't have gone and therefore wouldn't have lost the Ray-Bans. So what's going on here? Did I lose or gain? Was I reset back to the start? And if my mother's right and there's a god, what the hell is wrong with him? If there was a trade, I want to know what each party was offering. Was I supposed to have learnt a lesson? Was the lesson learnt? And if not, then what is Karma trying to say? To be impoverished in Israel is to continually feel that you are a failure, as you deal daily with people who seem to have not only more but much more than you. My monthly salary was a bus stop where the same number of people got on and off, and I'm left standing. As soon as the money comes in, it goes out the back door. Not before paying a transfer fee, of course. It's not that simple, because it's hard to admit that you have money problems when you don't have the main thing that caused the problem. Last summer, having no job and no alternative, I had to clean an apartment for some woman, her husband, their four children and a dog. I thoroughly hate cleaning other people's filth, but sometimes life likes to challenge you because some angels get bored sitting on clouds all day watching happy people. When I arrived, she greeted me at the entrance. There were a couple of stairs leading to a steel door. I went inside and saw an area of maybe 40 square meters in front of me, not including the toilet and the kitchenette. It saddened me. I alone would've loved to have lived in such an apartment; it was bigger than mine. But how can a family of four children and a dog live here, I thought. "Our former apartment was too crowded," said the woman. "I can't wait for this house to be ready." Wait, seriously? If this apartment is their redemption, then how'd the previous place look? The kids will have to sleep all in one room! But I didn't ask questions, I began cleaning, and she helped me. I couldn't understand why she had employed a £12 per hour cleaner when she had no money for a bigger place. "I think this is enough for today." She said after 5 hours of cleaning, "The rest we can continue with tomorrow." "We're already done." I said to her, "What else do you need? It's not necessary to postpone until tomorrow." It was a weekend, and I didn't want to go back there on Saturday and work. Besides, it's a waste of her money. Go buy chicken for Shabbat. "Oh no, no way, you'll have to come back a few more times..." I looked at her, not sure I understood. "Ahh, I didn't show you the rest of the house!" She recalled, "This is just the back entrance." She took me to the kitchen and opened a side door that led to a spiral staircase. Secret stairs, if you will. We climbed, and in front of me lay a long hallway with at least five more rooms, two bathrooms and a balcony. "You'll need at least two more days just for this floor," she said. I had a mixed sense of relief for the nice woman and her family, and anger for not sparing me any mercy earlier. "And on the main floor..." She went on and up another set of stairs, and I followed, not believing. My pity turned on me, "This is the living room and the kitchen and everything else." A vast room appeared in front of me, far too huge compared to the indifference she presented it in. Large living room, a generous kitchen and an office. The walls were made of windows with a sea view and lots, lots of floorings. "This is the main entrance." She explained and opened a magnificent wide wooden door. There was a large, beautiful garden behind it. Trees and potted plants and shrubs that only needed a little care and enough space for a small dog to play. My heart accelerated. The emotions involved became feelings of pure jealousy. What a bunch of spoiled pieces of shit, why do they need all this space? I grew up with two big sisters in a three-room apartment. I slept with my sister in the same room until I was 17; the only toilet in the house was no bigger than their smallest one, and most certainly, there were no stairs. I didn't actually feel sorry for myself; I had a great childhood. It just didn't seem to be fair after a whole day of scraping concrete off their million tiles. First, I wanted to lower the price. Then, I wanted to double it, and I had a massive urge to steal her creamy fancy bar of soap from the bathroom. When I left that day, I stopped and took a lingering look from a distance. Now I saw it all; three stories high on a quiet part of Mount Carmel, wrapped in trees with a private garden and a wooden fence. What a house. On one of these exhausting days of cleaning, their spoilt 14-year-old firstborn tried to take money from my wallet. Yep. The mother was quite embarrassed. I never dared to steal as a child inside the house. If I did and were caught, I'd have been reprimanded in front of the cleaner. I'd get a schooling which I wouldn't forget all year. I was brought up brilliantly. And I had reasons, you know? Expenses in those days demanded far-reaching economic calculations and the smash of a whitish-brown dog which was my savings box. Their son didn't seem to have a reason to steal: Friendly and wealthy parents, orthopaedic father, interior designer mom. Nonetheless, if he wants to have a future that would include having a distinguished thief career, I wish him all the best. I would've just added and said, go and steal from the right person and not from your mother's hardworking cleaner, kid. In the days that followed, I was cleaning up the house as if it belonged to me. Pathetic, I know. I went down the stairs as if they were mine, looked out the massive window to the ocean as if they were my window and view. I could imagine building a big library in the yard, then wrapping all the walls with books. But at the end of the day, I went back to my one-room apartment, where there are no windows, and there is one small library that forces most books to stay boxed because they have no place to live. Sorry to upset you. It wasn't a competition, but they won big time. It took me two or three weeks to finish the house as she mostly called me on the weekends. I couldn't refuse since I needed the money, even though I hated working on Saturdays. She always paid right on time, and I made a lot of cash in those days. One week into this cleaning parade, she asked me to help her clean the former apartment because they needed to get it back to its previous state. "This time, it won't take time," she said, "We'll finish it in one day." So I went the next morning. Her kids always talked about how they were dying to get out of that crowded apartment and move; I figured it must be small. I was wrong again. Two gardens, two stories, an attic, two toilets, three bedrooms, large kitchen and a pool. Of all this, they sought to escape. That evening, I sat down to have a glass of beer with a friend. I told him a fairy tale: how a small two-room apartment on the top of a mountain turned into a three-story villa facing the sea; how four poor children that slept in the same room became a bunch of spoilt brats; how parents who were down-in-the-dumps became well-to-do; all in one day. He said that I should've raised the price. "If she needed you mainly on Saturdays, then she had to pay more. She could afford it." We said goodbye, and I went to the kiosk to buy a few things. En route, thinking regrettably how the curse of my soft heart made me lose again and how I didn't raise the price when it was still relevant. On the way back, I saw a boy with a white Retriever. Oyoy yoy, what a beauty. As we got closer, it became clear to me that it was the same 14-year-old, the pseudo-thief. I was astounded. The Retriever was huge, almost the child's height. I had imagined a Pinscher. As I watched them walk, I understood something. The woman never stated that their house was small, never described the previous apartment as little, and never said their dog was petite. It's just me, imagining everything as tiny. I got so used to observing everything as small, that I can't understand how much I don't see. My head is poor, and my perception is poor. For almost a decade, I was in an existential war. Spending my days in a small windowless apartment, or among friends from my poor neighbourhood with their poor minds. I can easily compare conversations with them to ones with stable people: My friends think about their hourly wages, what they don't have, how much something will cost and about the obstacles. The well-off people think of the total income, what they want to have, how much they'll earn by achieving it and about the opportunities. No matter how many apartments I clean and how much money I try to save, my condition will never change unless I change my perception. That's what happened to me at the festival and the Ray-Bans. At the time, I didn't see that I earned Ray-Bans for a full summer and a free festival. I only saw what I lost. The brain is a strange thing. I can run, jump, skip, play the guitar, draw, type and write, drive and pedal, but if I brush my teeth with my left hand... time will slow down, and my movements will become a fight against nature. Changing thinking habits - it can take years. That's what I thought back then, more than a year ago. Since then, I lost all my savings travelling the world and opening my first business. From here, the world has already slowed me down. While in South Africa, the Coronavirus began to rage. My attempts to return to Israel failed, I am unemployed, isolating myself at the edge of the world. And here's the opportunity, in which rich people recognize. I don't know what you imagined when I described my situation, but try and see if you were right: I'm at a seaside vacation home, with a wide front door, a vast living room, a large kitchen and walls made of windows, surrounded by the Atlantic ocean from every direction. I have nowhere to go, and after so long in a big house, I can't figure out how I lived in such small, packed apartments for so many years. It closes your head, to live in a box. No wonder sardines often end up as a snack. If it's not a change in perception, I don't know what is. So yes, changing thinking habits can take a long time. But getting older takes longer. And right now, time is all I have.