An empty nester, with not so much as a pet to keep me true to a schedule, with a two-career path marriage that routinely puts us on separate tracks for evening meals, and sometimes even entire destinations, oh yeah, I can wander off. I take lots of artist’s dates. I like to call the habit getting lost in space. Or as my mother used to say, “Maisey birding it.” (Dr. Seuss)
I hadn’t planned to write today. And certainly not about “Artist’s Dates.” But if I’ve learned anything over the past twelve weeks, it’s that I don’t always need a reason or a particular plan to write. The notion can just come over me, if I let it. And, so at Ann’s bidding to report on the best of the best “date with myself,” well who knows, but. . .here goes:
The date: August 10, 2007. A Saturday. One glorious day. On my own. On foot. With a considerable distance to go. With only my camera to share a view. Wandering at leisure and in absoute wonder, 6000 miles from home: in Tel Aviv.
The opportunity for such an adventure? Work. I was in Israel on “assignment” -- working for the Jewish Federation, and traveling with a group of Jewish media representatives from the US. Just 20 of us, in Israel to report on the mood of the country, focusing on American-supported social service agencies, one year after the War in Lebanon. An amazing trip and extraordinary experience in its own. The formal tour ended on a Friday afternoon. I had an appointment and meeting set up with a colleague in the Galilee on Sunday. My colleague had family to visit -- and so that left me time off - 24 hours to discover my own private Israel.
Tel Aviv. Is modern Israel. Both exotic. And familiar. Alive. On constant alert. The pace of Israel is like no other place I know. It bustles and bristles, in a friendly, casual way. Unlike Jerusalem which all but shuts down from sundown to sundown from Friday to Saturday, many of the shops, museums and cafes in Tel Aviv stay open.
My "Artist Date," if you will, began with an early morning walk along the beach promenade (the Miami-like hotel district). Turning from the joggers and cyclists and children playing in the sand, I headed to the art museum, winding through sidestreets along the way, snapping photos in the park.
Don’t hold me to it, but I believe the photo above is a painted mural on the back of the Mann Auditorium, home of the Israeli Philharmonic. I took that shot in a lovely courtyard, searching for the Rubinstein Pavilion -- another art museum.
Spent the afternoon exploring, that is, getting a little lost in space, with no place in particular to be. After lunch in an outdoor cafe, (a favorite Saturday pasttime for Israeli’s in Tel Aviv), I ran into two of my travelling companions from the week’s tour, and sat down for a second repast on bustling Dizengoff, the main avenue in the fashionable shopping district. Finished the afternoon taking photos from the rooftop of the hotel, then took myself to a no-holds-barred, no-expenses-spared meal at a beachside restaurant, seated outside, watching the sun go down and the city lights come up, delighting in my solitude, feeling utterly at peace in my own skin, amidst thousands and thousands people, not exactly strangers -- old and young, singles and couples, families of all origin and many nations, flocking to the seaside, on a glorious summer night in Israel.
Traveling alone. It isn't preferred. But oh, the places you go.