Last night I walked home slowly feeling under the weather. My throat had been itching all day and the beginnings of a mid-season cold were beginning to take hold of me. As I listened to Lenny Kravitz, Believe, I walked as in a trance looking forward to being home, curling up on the sofa with a bowl of chicken soup (it is for the soul), taking copious amounts of drugs (legal) and passing out. My eyes were closing with every step that I was taking home, and my limbs were aching. I was definitely sick and in need of warmth, rest and sleep.
Home at last, I walk into my apartment and reach forward to switch the hallway light on, but nothing. I flicked the other light switches on and off, but no light. I think to myself that the fuse must have blown, so go to the electricity box in the stairway and find that the electricity has been switched off. There is a note in our electricity box informing that we have not paid the electricity bill. Damn! I thought Nooman had dealt with it.
The sun was all but gone and dusk was spreading around our apartment. I called Nooman panicking that I was to be stuck all night in a dark apartment with no electricity and hence no heater to sit next to and no hot chicken soup to drink. Close to tears, it became clear that we had both presumed the bill had been taken care of, and there was nothing to do but pay the bill and hope that the lights would go back on immediately. But after a long wait on their customer service line, unsure if I had pressed the correct options on their automated service, I was informed that it would take around 2 to 3 hours before the technician would come to switch the electricity back on.
Faced with the prospect of sitting in the dark for 3 hours I did what anyone with only minutes of light left, and ran around the house collecting tea lights that had never been used, opening a bottle of wine and sat, glass in hand, on the mirpeset overlooking the Shlomo Hamelech and King George interchange, and people watched.
Tel Aviv is really a fascinating place to watch when you have nothing to do. People and cars flow through the city as blood coursing through veins. There is a pattern and a rhythm to the city that you can only appreciate from a 2nd story building looking down on the streets below… slightly drunk. You begin to notice the number of cars that pulse through the street to the traffic light, queuing down the street. You start to recognise cars that are circling the block hunting for a parking space, and feel sorry for the silver VW Golf that loses a space after 3 turns down the street to a blue Mazda 6 that does not deserve the spot due to his incapability of parking in a space big enough for a small truck.
The rain begins, hard at first, then slowing to a mild but persistent shower. People walking home, walking dogs, walking in the rain with an umbrella and those braving the wet and wind as though it is summer. A giant cleavage walks down the street with her more sensibly dressed friend. Anyone would notice the cleavage; men because, well lets face it there are breasts on show; and women, like me, thinking how much we would like to put a coat on the stupid girl. When I lived in Leeds every weekend the streets would be filled with girls dressed in barely any clothes no matter the weather. I may be a northern lass, I may be used to the cold and the wet, however I choose to keep my more than ample cleavage under wraps when braving the elements. The cleavage and her friend take a left at the lights and walk out of my view.
I get briefly distracted by shouting coming from an apartment on the opposite side of the road to mine. It sounds like a father and son arguing. I try to listen in, but the words are in Hebrew and unclear, but I imagine that the father is shouting at his son to do some work towards his exams instead of sitting watching TV. The shouting stops with a door slamming, I presume the son has stropped off to his room to pretend to work while calling his friends/ girlfriend to complain about how overbearing his father is.
A man is stood on the corner of my street. He looks familiar, or is that just me after 3 glasses of wine hoping that he is familiar. He seems to be looking up in my direction, not that he would be able to see me sat in the dark, and I begin to think that maybe it is the person I hope it is. I know deep down that it isn’t him, that if he were stood on my corner it would be with his dog. I think about calling him, but remembered that I am playing hard to get and that would be against the rules. I imagine him randomly turning up at my apartment with the excuse that he was walking by and just had the urge to see me.
Despite the rain the streets are busy with people; some with umbrellas, some with coats, some walking home from work and others, walking to the Dizengoff centre, some on phones… actually most people on their phones. I am not sure what I am looking out for, what my focus is, but I remember that Nooman promised he would be home to keep me company and here I was all alone, in the dark, my phone dead, and no Nooman in sight. I notice someone I recognise; Joel is walking Lucky in the rain. I feel a little guilty as I was supposed to join him, but the rain put me off moving, oh well… I’ll ask him to come over later.
And then just as I was beginning to feel drowsy from all the wine and silence I turn my head to see the light of the television go on. We have electricity!!! I run around the flat switching on lights, switching off lights. As I heat up a bowl of chicken soup I am so happy that I run water until the water is hot and start washing up dishes that have been in the sink since the weekend. Washing up is one of my worst chores, but I am enjoying the hot water on my hands too much to care about that right now. In any case Nooman will be so happy to come home and find that not only is the electricity back on but the washing has also been done. I am the best roommate ever!
I had forgotten how sick I was feeling earlier; in hindsight it would have probably been better for my cold had I taken advantage of the lack of light and gone straight to bed. However, now with the apartment returned to normal working order, Nooman home (after hiding at work “working” so that he could surf the web) and a bowl of hot chicken soup in my hands, my cold did not seem so bad. Or was that the wine talking?