Moussa’s looking out for my children.

Scene: In the office to sign papers, at the water fountain, filling up my water bottle with Bebe Bjorned to me, Moussa is standing at the sink washing paint off his brushes.

“You bring your baby to work a lot.”

“Well, I’m only here to do quick things. I haven’t been working the last few months.”

“Still, you bring her to work; a baby doesn’t need to be at work.”

“Well, I’m not really working…”

“Yeah, but…”

“I don’t work here anymore.”

“I know, but even to come quickly – you don’t have someone to leave her with?”

“My husband works and I’m her mother.”

“Parents at home? Father, mother? Some relatives at the house?”

<click>

“Aaah… No. We’re here b’aretz alone.”

“Oh. I see. Oh, I’m so sorry.”

Thanks for looking out for me, Moussa. No, I don’t live with the chamula.

We all have our own challenges…

That pilot is me…

Scene: Sixt car dealership, Jerusalem. Sasson the excellent salesman is chatting away at my husband, with me listening as I inspect the silver Ford Focus in front of me.

“So, what’s the difference between the Mazda 3 and Ford Focus?”

“Go with the Focus, trust me. The time of the Mazda 3 reigning in Israel is ending… For so long, everyone has just accepted that it was the obvious choice, and we’re moving on from that to other, much better cars.”

“Really?”

“Look at this lot – see all the Mazdas? No one wants them anymore now that they realize that for families there are much better and just as affordable options. You know what Mazda is good for? If you’re single and want to pretend you’re a pilot. But now you’re married, with kids.”

I didn’t look at my husband, but yeah. That pilot is me.

 

Orange-haired Mizrachi lady.

In my head, I gave her three guesses.

“So you’re achrei tzava?”

“No. I wasn’t in the army. I’m an olah chadasha.”

“Oh, you look 20, chamuda. So you’re 18?”

“Yeah, I know… No, 23.”

“You probably hear that a lot…”

“Yeah.”

“What nice shirt! So did you get that back in Russia?”

“No… the States.”

“Aaaah.”

a little bit more of the usual.

sunday morning. time to buy a new cartisiya (bus card).

note to liz: now you have a job, no more getting 18 and under cards with ten free rides. you have a job now, you can afford to be legit.

alight the bus. pass by the youngish lady who is chatting with bus driver. smile at the driver.

“cartisiya.”

“noar?”

oh, irony. he is asking if i want a youth card, 18 and under, with ten free rides. i could just say yes or i could stick to my working-legit liz plan.

“lo. rigeela.”

the driver looks taken aback, which is silly. i dont look that young. but, what does a middle-aged mizrachi sunday morning bus driver know?

“b’emet? lo noar?”

“lo. rigeela.”

youngish lady smiles at me and turns to driver.

(in hebrew) “ma pitom? she looks young, but not that young.”

driver shrugs.

“eh, nu? until they are 18 they get the cartisiyat noar and then they are enlisted and they ride for free, and then they come out and they buy regular cards.” she looks at me and smiles and i nod.

“b’seder.” driver hands me my card.

—later—

last rider on the bus. we’re approaching the mall.

“yalla, boi.”

i come to the front and sit near the driver.

(hebrew) “getting off at the mall?”

“ken.”

“to work? or l’tayel?”

“work.”

“work? ah, you look so young.”

ha, ha, “yes i know, but i am 23.”

“no kidding! very nice. what is your name?”

“elisheva.”

he puts out his hand, i take it. “na-im meod.” “na-im meod.”

he turns to me again.

“wait – where are you from?”

“new york. aliti in january.”

“lama?”

“lama lo?”

“yaffe meod. yom tov.”

“bye!”

a little bit more of the usual. and the big smile creeping across my young-looking face.