Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 10 Lora and Lina or My First Jewish Friend

They met in Jerusalem at the renowned Faisal Hostel (see Day 1 Shannon and Noah). Lina remembers their first meeting; Lora does not. Lina remembers because she knew Lora had been with Tom when he was shot. “She seems so young”, Lina remembers thinking. Lora had just come from Gaza and she was taking a break from international activism in Jerusalem. Lina was on her way to Nablus from London, having missed her international activist orientation. They made small-talk about whether you should drink the tap water or not.

They saw each other again in Gaza a week later. Lina was part of a Nablus-contingent visiting Gaza. When it was time for the contingent to return to Nablus, Lora decided to go with them. Gaza was getting too overwhelming. On their way out of the Strip they were shot at. Bullets hit the sandy beach, a few feet away from where they were walking. It was the first time Lina had been shot at and she was scared. It was the kind of fear that focuses the mind on all the little details around you. Lora had been shot at many times and was not scared.

In Nablus, Lina asked Lora if she could interview her on being Jewish in the International Solidarity Movement. Lina still has the tape and will get round to transcribing it one day. It’s been five years.

When it was time to say goodbye, they exchanged emails and promised to keep in touch. You know how you do, when you meet someone great but never think you’ll actually seem them again.

For one reason or another, Lina spent that summer in the States. Baltimore, to be exact. And for no apparent reason, Lora who was in Pittsburgh visited her. They ate good food and laughed a lot, and then caught the China bus to New York. They exchanged books. Lora gave Lina a book of Iraqi poetry, and Lina gave Lora The Life of Pi.

They saw each other again in London where Lina was living at the time. Lora was traveling to Paris and stopped over to fry some plantains and talk about Haiti.

Two years later, in the same week that Lina accepted a job in Chicago she got an email from Lora saying that Lora had just moved to Chicago.

The rest, as they say, is history. Sure they had their ups and downs like that time that Lora almost killed them in a car accident in New Orleans. Or that other time, when they dated the same guy by accident.

Lina is still in Chicago, while Lora now lives in Paris. Lina thinks Lora should come back to Chicago.

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