May 06

Waiting for Broza

Irene de la Torre

Sara kept her eyes on the passengers who got off the plane; she was afraid that if she took her eyes off of them, Eyal would suddenly come out and surprise her, and she wanted to look composed. She was sorry she had worn the small, pink T-shirt that rose above her belly. She had gained weight since he last saw her and was afraid he would notice. Her unruly brown hair was tucked into a bun, high on top of her head with rebellious spikes sticking out of it. The jeans she had bought in a rare moment of self indulgence were one size too small, and the waist band was eating into her flesh, so she sucked her stomach in.

The automatic doors popped open, and suddenly she saw him; He stood there wearing a tie-died shirt, flip-flops, and faded jeans, the same ones he’d worn three years ago when she met him at Masada. In a moment of bravery she’d bought a ticket to the Masada Music Festival, and decided she would go down there by herself to see David Broza, her favorite Israeli crooner.

At night, before the concert, she saw people sitting around a fire playing guitar and singing in quiet and hesitant voices. She was painfully shy, but the music called her, and the night served as a comforting sheath. The tongues of fire lit people's faces red and gold and everything seemed friendly.

Eyal had been sitting across from her, playing guitar and she thought she had never seen anyone more confident. He had long, shaggy hair, dirty blond from the sun, and a deep tan. And even though, he wasn't the best guitar player she had ever seen, he pounded the guitar as if he himself was David Broza. She fell for him immediately. And somehow, he had noticed her too, the Jewish American girl in Israel for the first time. She listened to him play and smiled and joined in when she knew the words. When their eyes met, she looked down, grabbed a fistful of cold dirt, and let it run through her fingers, thin like flour.

Later, he offered to share some pot he had hidden in his tent with her, and she went with him, a stranger and yet as an Israeli, also not a stranger. He was a former IDF soldier in an elite secret unit, he told her. She felt terrified and exited by this.

They smoked the pot and he kissed her. Then she threw up, and he held her hair and said, "It's the first time I make a girl throw up." That night, she had sex with him in his tent, on top of his sleeping bag.

As if from a distance, Sara heard a loudspeaker announcing a flight. She had almost forgotten she was standing before Eyal at the arrivals gate in Kennedy Airport. He had not changed; His hair was still shaggy, although shorter, sandy and bleached from the sun. His small brown eyes, like two dark caves inviting and scaring her away, narrowed, and his lips turned slightly up in the corners. She waited until he was close enough, then threw herself at him.

“I knew you would be happy to see me,” Eyal said.

She buried her nose in his neck. He smelled like summer sun and the sea, like Israel.

“Hey." He pushed her slightly away from him and looked into her eyes. Before she knew it, she was crying.
"Hey, hey."

His backpack, the same sleeping bag she slept on at Masada rolled at its base, was still on his back. She wanted to reach in and touch all his worn-out T-shirts, smell his clothes, rub them against her face, maybe rub some of his life into her.

Lately, she had been sinking further and further into a tedious, gray routine, into this funk she couldn't snap out of. She started to think that she would end up living alone in her apartment, never meeting anyone, never doing anything. It was as if all around her people lived their lives and experienced happiness, and she watched from behind a glass window, a spectator. Eyal held the promise of feeling something again.

She had not seen him in four years and was going to take him home, let him sleep in her bed, and pretend to be her boyfriend for one week, until he caught a plane to his next adventure, and she went on with her frigid life. Maybe, she thought, he would stay. Maybe he'll find a job in Connecticut. She would cook him dinner and have it ready for him every night, just like a married couple. They would fall asleep together, watching the Late Night Show. She remembered that when she stayed in his apartment in Tel Aviv, he’d hugged the remote, constantly changing channels, and mocking the movies she wanted to watch. "Girl movies," he’d call them.

But being around him made her whole body throb. She remembered how one afternoon she watched him transfixed, as he repaired his motorcycle on the sidewalk outside his apartment, his arm muscles shifting up and down, as his blackened, tarred hands lifted and turned the wrench.

“Come here, Eyal said.”

He pulled her close to him, and through her tears, she could see blurry images of people hurrying up to greet their loved ones. She wondered if she and Eyal looked that happy. As if reading her mind, he took off his large overstuffed backpack and dropped it to the ground.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” She sniffled. “I’m just happy you’re here.”

“How was your flight?”

“You’re crazy, you know that?”

He held her face between his palms. His tanned skin stretched too tight on his face, like old weathered leather. She was surprised to see that time had aged him too. She thought of him as an eternal boy, forever younger than her. Although she was only four years older than him, he held his youth over her like a lever, like she had to know that she was lucky he had chosen her when he could have been with an eighteen year old. She saw that when they walked on the beach, his eyes always scanning for young bodies. “You’re old,” he’d tease her. But that was then. Now, it seemed, time was catching up with him too. Somehow, physically they were evening out.

Eyal put his arms around her and she felt the tautness of his chest pressed against her small unripe breasts. He had always said he loved them just the way they were. "You're lucky, you know," he would say while cupping them, "they won't ever sag."

As they started for the parking lot she said, “So, tell me.”

“Tell you what?”

“I don’t know, everything.”

“I quit my job."

She opened the back of her car, and he lifted the massive backpack. She could see those intricate, small muscles in his arms, doing a crazy dance.

“And I decided to get away from everything and come here."

She envied this confidence he had, like he knew someone would always be there to pick up the slack.

She never did anything spontaneous, except for that summer when she followed Eyal, against her better judgment, from Masada to Tel Aviv after having just met him.

“I’m happy you came.”

"Come here.” He touched her face with the tips of his fingers, like he was brushing some hair away from it. It had been a long time since he had touched her face.

“I forgot how pretty you were.”

He hugged her hips, and she felt her stomach squeeze against his pelvis. She held her breath for a second, hoping he wouldn't notice the chunkiness around her waist.

"What's this?" He pushed her away and pointed at her belly.

"Are you’re becoming a fatty?"

She felt her cheeks burn and suddenly she remembered how, after they had been together for a few days, he’d started to criticize different parts of her body and mock the way she groomed herself. When they were at the beach he would say, "How come you don't shave above the knee? Girls here shave everything." She hoped he had changed.

"You're still cute." He gave her a quick hug and sat inside the car. She took a deep breath, forced herself to smile.

"Tell me about Israel."

"What’s there to say?" Eyal turned to her. "Same shit as always."

Sara hoped he would talk some more, and she would forget feeling humiliated.

"Hard times, you know. Everybody is nervous, everybody is on the edge."

"I miss it so much," Sara said.

"There's nothing to miss, trust me."

"I miss the beach, the sunsets, Masada…I miss you."

Eyal smiled and rested his palm on her thigh, and she felt her anxiety melt away.

"Eyal…” She wanted to ask him to stay with her longer than he had planned. He had come for a week, and she knew soon after he left, she would go on with her lonely life. He wasn't perfect, she knew, but he made her feel alive.

His features were less than perfect: his nose was too wide and his eyes too small, but put together, they worked. He was short too, and there was a sexual quality about him, compacted into his small stature, saturated.
Once they were in the car, Eyal turned to look for something in his backpack, and after a minute, he produced a yellow plastic bag.

"This is for you."
She opened the bag and touched a cold, smooth CD. It was David Broza, Live in Masada. Sara felt her eyes well up and her throat tighten.


She tried hard to keep her tears in. "I love it," she said. "It'll be just like being there.”

The night she met him, she’d lain in his arms, listening to Broza and singing along with the sweet guitar strumming.

She could feel his heartbeat thumping against her back. Then, slowly, like a golden, crimson ball, the sun had started to rise behind the slim body of the dark haired crooner. His voice had been deep and oaky like a good Cabernet, intoxicating her senses. She’d swear she could feel all the other hearts pounding inside the thousands of young Israelis, sitting on the warm, hard ground. Right then, she felt loved. And Eyal turned her head to his and kissed her.

Images: Mindy Stricke
CONTINUED  1  |  2  |  3  Next »