The Night of a Thousand Fires

Yesterday was the eve of Lag Baomer and was probably the most beautiful night in the world.

In Lag Baomer, for those who are not familiar with that, everyone lights bonfires. I don’t know why but we do. The last Lag Baomer I was in Israel was maybe when I was a kid and we had a bonfire on this hill next to my house in Beit She’an. Back then, there were much less houses and paved roads so it really felt like we were Bedouins or hippies or some odd combination of the two.

Last night, as my family and I were driving to the place where we had to light the fire, there were bonfires along the whole way, one next to the other. There are no clouds in the Israeli night and the nights are a hell of a lot darker than what I’m used to in Canada. The stars and constellations are clearly visible and the moon seems closer and bigger, like a big huge cheezecake. Last night, there were so many bonfires they seemed to be lighting up the sky. It was breathtaking in every sense of the word considering I was exposed to enough smoke to be coughing for the next two weeks. No, but seriously, it was amazing. Of course, I came back home with red eyes and a terrible smell in my hair. I was disappointed that my parents weren’t with me. I also couldn’t take any pictures because my camera doesn’t have flash on it and the pictures would not come out the way I would have liked them to.

This morning I took a long shower not to smell like a burned chicken wing any longer. I woke up to the smell of cigarettes and Barry White music blasting. It seems that it doesn’t matter where I sleep, I always manage to be woken up by some horrid stimulation of my senses. Sometimes it’s a baby crying, which nobody can control so I don’t mind that too much. But sometimes it’s someone coming in and out of my room a million times before deciding what to wear, sometimes it also involves turning on the light. Sometimes, it’s the smell of cigarettes, sometimes it’s a parent losing his or her mind because of something the kid did. Sometimes, it’s someone vaccuming the house at 6 a.m. because they just can’t wait to do the household chores any later. 

Most often, though, I wake up to the sound of someone else’s alarm. In fact, I’m the only one who wakes up to that person’s alarm. A couple of weeks ago, in Tel-Aviv, I woke up to the sound of blasting Jazz/Swing music (what’s with people and blasting shitty music at 7 a.m.??). I thought it would be turned down or turned off soon, but it wasen’t. The first song ended and the second one started. So I got up and went to the other room to find both my cousins in deep sleep as the music was probably tearing their eardrums to shreds.

A couple of nights ago, I also awoke to my aunt’s alarm clock. It pissed me off so bad that I went to the other room (to find my aunt in deep sleep, obviously, with that alarm right above her head) and took out the battery from the clock.

It seems like the only normal sleep I get, even if I suffer from chronic insomnia, is in my own house in Canada. God only knows what horrors I’ll be waking up to in the dorm I’m moving in to on June 15th.

So these are the nights here in Israel, noisy but often very beautiful.

Peace, love and dance around the fire making woowoo sounds.


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