Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Perfect Day For Head Injuries

Summer 2004

Friday April 12, 2002 was a perfect day for head injuries.

I do not mean that in a bitter or sarcastic “that was the day I received a head injury” sense, even though I received not one, but two head injuries that day.

I received the first injury a few hours before the bombing. While walking to my office, I passed two yeshiva boys carrying a heavy metal rack. One of the boys lost his grip, and the rack fell on my head, knocking me down and leaving me with a small bleeding gash and a headache. I will never know for sure what caused the huge, bleeding gash I received in the bombing although my personal theory is that the force of an explosion occurring 10 feet from where I stood sent me flying, head first and at an enormous speed, into the steel frame of the bus stop.

But as I said, I do not mean that the day was a good day for head injuries in any sort of tongue-in-cheek sense. I mean it literally.

Have you ever had one of those days, or weeks, or months, where you are so damn miserable, that you wish that you could go to sleep and just stay asleep for a while? Not suicide, nothing so drastic or final as that, but rather just an opportunity to turn off your brain and not think for a little while. For me, Friday April 12, 2002 was one of those days.

I will admit that many people would have been happy to be in my shoes. My aliyah, by most objective standards, was going well. I had a job in my field and was enrolled in night school where I prepared for the Israeli CPA exams. I had built a small but close circle of friends: Debbie, Yael, Galia, Nomi and Edith, who I could count on for some measure of support and Shabbat meals. I had a decent apartment with a non-demonic roommate.

Even so, life was not like it was in the States. At 31, four years out of college and at a time where my friends back home were furnishing their starter homes with elegant furniture, I was living like a college student, my room full of random, cheap, throwaway pieces of furniture picked up second or third hand or even off the side of the road. Between work, night school and homework, I had virtually no free time at all and often found myself fighting off terrible feelings of isolation. Worst of all, my romantic life was a complete, unmitigated disaster. I had met a guy. I completely flipped over him. I was sure that he had flipped as well. He did-but…over my best friend. She flipped over him.

They were in love.

Incidentally, this was not the first time that this had happened to me. To be honest, this happened to me frequently. To be painfully, brutally honest, every single time I fell for a guy, he would proceed to fall for whoever was my closet friend of the time. If my closest friend changed, he would fall for each of them, in succession. Usually I was able to grin and bear it, give up on the guy, and keep the friend. This time, I found that I simply could not.

Maybe it was because I had thought that this time, I was going to be the lucky one. And maybe it was the realization that I had turned my back on a good job, a large group of friends, financial security, physical safety and had moved all the way across the world to Israel… just to have my bad luck follow me. Whatever the reason, I broke. All during the week leading up to Friday, April 12, 2002, this pain was fresh and raw and pounding. I was quite simply in agony, to the extent that I would comment to my friends that maybe I would get lucky, and a bus would blow up with me on it.

And so it was that I found myself standing at a bus stop at Machane Yehuda , at 3:45 on Friday, April 12, 2002, my head aching from the blow I had received earlier, and just wishing that I were anywhere but there, and anyone but me. Why had I made aliyah if I was just going to be single, lonely, depressed and just generally the world’s biggest loser? What was I doing in Israel? What was I doing with my life? How could things possibly get worse?

Oh. Yeah. That.


Anonymous said...

Geeze, I didn't realize it happened so colse to tax day...that is one bad way to get some time off!

Gila said...

Yeah, well, desperate times call for desperate measures. :)

Frum Jew in Recovery said...

My first GF had a similar experience to yours. In Israel, she was walking with some guy friend and she saw what she thought was a soccer ball rolling towards them, so she playfully kicked it. Yep, turned out to be a bomb. She had some brusies on her body but that was all. I guess the kicking of it saved them from far worse damages.

I wish you good luck in the romantic area. I have no advice or ideas myself as I had had similar bad luck as you but I do recall that the worst incident such as you have described now in losing someone to your friend, I had this happen right before meeting my wife so maybe it is a thing you have to go through something bad like that to raise up to the level of happiness that you deserve so.

Bas~Melech said...

Just letting you know that I'm reading, as you requested in the sidebar... I really have nothing else to say right now. You write really well and I'm enjoying your blog. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Gila, your writing is awesome- the style, the content, the spirit, the lot!
Keep on shining!

Esther, Tel Aviv

Gila said...

Thanks! :)

Hmmm...Tel Aviv--my neighborhood. (I left J'lem a couple years ago). Do you go to Ichud Olam? I have been playing an excellent game of Jewish Geography with some of my other readers--perhaps you would like to join in?

And if you ARE Ichud Olam, are you going to the Shabbaton?


Anonymous said...

איחוד עולם? What's that?*
In other words -
and, well
No :)

*a totally non-observant Sabra. Does that by any chance explain my ignorance?

Anonymous said...

Jameel directed his readers to your site and I'm really grateful.(I was going to say blown away)

I love your spirit and humor, who knew an accountant could write so expressively.

Anonymous said...

Shalom Gila,

Great blog. You're brilliant. I never want to share your experience, but your whole attitude just makes me miss home so much more acutely.

Just stopping in to send our blessings your way, as you asked in the side bar.

Thanks for letting us all in this door!

Schvach said...

OK, life is about vulnerability and
victimization. For me too. BTW, do you think the first head injury, courtesy of a couple of yeshiva bochurim, was a warning of the second, more significant blow?

Gila said...

Vulnerability--yes, to the extent that, ultimately, G-d has the final say. A bit discomforting to think about at times, but that is the way it is. Accept it and move on. Victimization--while there are people who really are helpless victims, in my case, I am fortunate as victimization is only if I choose it.

Which I have not.

As for a sign? If so, I missed it completely. Oh well.

John said...

Excellent writing, as one might expect from you. Thanks for sharing all of this.

Unknown said...

It seems like the saying that bad things come in threes is accurate in oyur case. The guy liked your friend, the yeshiva boys hit you on the head and then, mother of all bad things, you get blown up.
I think that puts you in the clear for the next 30 years.

Baila said...

I got here through Seraphic Press, and Jameel. I want to join the chorus and let you know that I think your writing is amazing and what you are saying is so important. I also love it that you are able to see life with a sense of humor. I am looking forward to watching your blog develop--I'll check in often.

Wollf Howlsatmoon said...

Gila.....I hope you don't mind, I've linked to your writings. Your style and wit in the face of what has happened shows the world a Soul which should be known.

Amid a Country full of Souls that should be known.

Thank you.

Kelly said...

wow, gila, thank you for stopping by my blog. i've been reading yours since a couple days after you began it (i located you through here:, in case you are curious).

you write beautifully and your story is very well told. your grace, humor, and directness are quite refreshing. i look forward to the rest of your story. i have a feeling it is making a blazing trail on the internet and i wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't bless you far more than you've ever anticipated.

i am also so glad you found the link to nate, tricia, and gwyneth ( :)


Kelly said...

oops... sorry, that above link from lonestar times goes straight to the comments about gila's blog. scroll up to find the actual post. or paste this:

~kelly, again.

Shoshana said...

I totally know what you are talking about here. I have days when I feel like I wouldn't mind getting hit by a car so much, so I'm a little less careful while walking through Manhattan. Luckily, I haven't been taken up on my recklessness yet! Keep writing - I'm really enjoying reading :)