Not feeling much like writing this morning. Yesterday I learned that my friend killed himself.
So mostly what I’m feeling like is crying and staring at the wall.
But at the same time needing to write something, because writing has been my comfort at so many points in my life.
And because my friend was the one who always kept nudging me to make peace with that.
In fact, at a time in my life when I was far too insecure about my writing to even hint at its existence to almost anyone, he would regularly introduce me to people as “My friend, the amazing writer”.
Can’t say anything amazing at the moment unfortunately, but something wants to be said.
Because sometimes it hurts too much to talk about it.
This is, oh I don’t know, seven or eight years ago already. I was going through a tough time. My friend was going through a tough time.
We took off work one day and walked to the beach in the rain. We looked at the Mediterranean for a while.
And he said something like wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to just shut off sometimes when you needed a break.
You’d get this reprieve. A little respite from your pain. You’d get, say, one day where yeah, everything would still suck, but it just wouldn’t bother you so much and you could just go and eat borekas and not think about how hard it all was.
For some reason, the instant mental image cracked us both up.
And so International Borekas and Repression Day was born. It sounds funnier in Hebrew, probably. At any rate, it cheered us to no end.
Because it’s the thing you do when you don’t know what to do.
The first International Borekas and Repression Day took place that very day.
But pretty soon it became clear that once a year wasn’t going to be enough. We couldn’t just wait around for the whatever of November to roll by.
No, the great thing about International Borekas and Repression Day is that it’s always there for you when you need it, and all you have to do is call it into being.
Not that we did. Well, at least not all that often. But now and then one of us would decide that the time had come. And the other would concur.
And then we’d get borekas from this place in Florentin that was exactly halfway between my apartment and where his grandparents used to live.
Spinach and mushroom.
Unfortunately there aren’t any words to describe how unbelievable these borekas were. The way there aren’t any words to describe pretty much anything right now.
But trust me, there could not be a more perfect comfort food. And there could not be a better way to spend an afternoon.
Because you are always loved.
To the mysterious forces (or not, whatever) responsible for playing my friend’s two favorite songs, one after the other, really really loud, in the cafe I was sitting in right when I heard the news, thank you. That was sweet.
And to my friend, who would be happy to know that I now publicly use written words as my go-to therapy, I don’t know how to make peace with this yet or with your pain but I love you so much.
And to myself, I don’t know how to make peace with this yet or with your pain but I love you so much.
And for everyone else, I hereby proclaim today to be an official IBARD. Go get yourself some borekas.
Wishing you Peace at this time, too.
oh – my borek experience was from a Turkish friend, Turkan, who made what she called borek – filled with meat and potatoes flavored with sumac. I remember trying to make them myself and I bought the only bag of sumac sold at the neighborhood Middle Eastern market – it must have been the size of a 1 quart container – and the recipe called for 1/8 of a teaspoon. Mine were not the comfort food hers were. That giant bag of sumac, however, followed me around for years and years….from house to house.
For his encouraging you to write,
and for his massive effect on you,
and for his impact that led you to introduce him to all of us — who’ll now benefit from his new presence even as his friends miss him —
and for his part in creating a much-needed IBAR Day…
I raise a holiday toast:
to friendships that remain in our heart,
and continue to support from a new place.
Like a favorite song haunting a cafe.
sending you hugs and thinking of you…
Havi – This, I think is one of the marks of a true writer: that she is compelled, in the face of life or death, to write, no matter where the words come from or what the words have brought with them from their travels, or even whether the words come when called.
Thanks for writing what’s in your heart, and especially thanks not only for the delightful, witty and practical stuff, but also the bittersweet, raw and ragged stuff.
Thank you so much, all of you, for your good wishes, and also for meeting me in my pain.
@Laura, I’ve also had the enormous bag of sumac experience!
@GirlPie You’re the awesomest. Thank you for that.
@Kathy, that was really beautiful. I’m touched.
And for anyone who’s wondering, yes, I went out and had borekas for IBARD.
Luckily I’m in Berlin right now so they’re not as hard to find as you’d think, as long as you’re near a Turkish neighborhood.
My friend Alex killed himself 8 years ago this month. I still think about him a lot, his wry brilliant sad voice is there in my ear like a friendly ghost. I don’t hear him as much as I used to. I made it a practice for awhile to tell him that the world loved and forgave him, and that he should go rest. I hope he is resting.
@Sonia *hug* I will use that. Thank you.
Oh Havi. Your post made me cry. Not because I have lost someone in that way or know this kind of pain but because you are so so so so real.
Thank you for this. I love borekas. I love anything that reminds me of Israel and the tiny slice of time I shared with my (now)husband when I went and visited him while he was a Golani infantry soldier over there.
I buy him his favourite potato ones, which aren’t nearly as good as the ones in Israel, whenever I feel like making him smile, and it always does make him smile.
Food is amazingly comforting and I loved reading your story about IBARD.
from a ladino love(wedding) song from Sofia
Yo vos hizi nas burikita I gave you a burikita
y se las mandi with my hand
porke era mi primo hermano Because you are my cousin
del me namori that has become my lover