Yesterday was spent with visitors from London. H and B arrived on Friday, so they think Sunday is part of the weekend, and they are here for a week. H was born in Israel, we met at work before he left in 1997 for greener pastures. B is from Scotland, but this is not his first trip. Whenever H visits, I look at Tel Aviv and try to visualize it in time-stopped images, try to highlight every thing that changed since his last visit: the new landscaping of the boulevards with separate bike and pedestrian paths, more and more restored Bauhaus buildings, more Dead Sea product shops on Sheinkin Street. We play a little game about what will happen "when peace comes," getting more and more fanciful and outrageous: "Tel Aviv will be more luxurious than Dubai," says B, whose grandfather was a British soldier during the Mandate period. I listen and hear the changes that have taken place in H's English: it now has a Scottish lilt.
The weather was most cooperative, so we went for a walk. The tayelet (paved promenade along the beachfront) now goes continuously from Tel Aviv to Jaffa, past the infamous Dolphinarium, past the Lehi museum building (my favorite), stopping at a beachside cafe I'd never been to for rest and surprisingly good refreshments, finally into Jaffa past a photographer with a wedding party posing the bride against a backdrop of the Tel Aviv skyline. B has never seen that statue of the whale where Jonah used to live, and I had never before seen the new luxury apartment complex just outside the Old City. (Sorry I didn't bring my camera along on this walk.)
I try to remember how it looked and felt 16 years ago, when it was all new and unfamiliar to me and I was filled with worries: would I find an apartment, would I learn the language, would I find work, would I make friends. I have now lived in my Tel Aviv home longer than any place else. I'm so glad I took a chance. I hope H comes back again soon.