1. Last night, I asked Avi if it was strange that I could not recall one exam I took in college from 1992 to 1996. I remember so much from my past, I said, but not one college exam?
He said, “Well, that was a long time ago.”
“True,” I replied, nodding my head even though I thought his response was uninspired. “But what I’ve learned about memory is that how long ago is not most important to our recall. What’s most important is how often we remember the memory. Our memories, it turns out, are mostly memories of memories. They are the stories we keep telling ourselves of our memories.”
My husband looked up at me. “That makes sense.”
2. It is February 1, 2015, two days before the final exam in Aggada and I have a dream that I am late. I look at my watch in the dream and the numbers displayed read 12:03, three minutes after I was meant to be sitting in the exam room, but instead I am drinking coffee on campus with a friend. I panic and gather my things. After a series of dream type mishaps – including not being able to find my keys or my car – I end up locating my car in a far off parking lot thanks to the assistance of a young attendant, but I wake up from the dream before I take the exam.
Nevertheless, the dream feels resolved, closed. I wake up relieved. Before I wake up, however, I hook up with the young parking attendant who helped me find my car.
3. It is February 3, 2015 the day of my Aggada exam. I arrive on campus two hours early and sit in the garden outside the assigned building until 15 minutes before the exam. I am determined not to be late. 15 minutes before the exam, I enter the building, walk down to the basement to the exam room, and attempt to check in.
I hand the middle aged female monitor my ID card. She reviews it and looks up to face me. She asks me in Hebrew, “Did you change your name?”
“No,” I respond slowly, still trying to translate in my head this phrase I wasn’t expecting.
“Your name is not on the list,” she tells me. “You must go to the Administration Building and get special permission to take the test.”
I panic, but only slightly. “Where is the Administration Building?”
“Oh, it’s over there.” She points behind her in a direction I imagine is very clear and precise in her mind, but in mine is not, since my mind is filled with parables from long ago about reincarnated rabbis, ancient wisdom, and miracles from Heaven.
Later, but not much, I will see that this moment itself is a reincarnation of an ancient wisdom. Later, but not much, I will understand again that no matter how hard I try to change the future, I can’t.
In the end, I am late for the exam.
I wander down and around winding paths, follow faded signs in Hebrew and eventually come upon the Administration Building, which is tucked away behind some bushes peppered with daylilies. Inside, I ask for Asher as I had been instructed.
Do you know what time Asher resolves the matter and sends me back to the classroom to take the exam?
I knew it would be 12:03 even though Asher had said with his thumb and pointer finger, “Dakah,” which means “just a minute.” It was 11:58 then, and I knew he’d be back in 4 minutes, not one. I knew because my dream had told me.
When he returns at 12:03, I thank Asher in Hebrew, but I do not hook up with him.
I only smile. After all, his name, in Hebrew, means “happy.”
4. “Pray for the future, hope for the best
One never knows, does one?” —
Charles Brown, One Never Knows (mixed tape, 1997)
5. I had a dream last night I had a lover. He was married. He was someone who lives here on the kibbutz. In real life, he is attractive, but I am not attracted to him. This is another kind of love. The kind where you acknowledge the beauty of thing, but don’t necessarily feel the desire to partake of it.
6. “There are such things as ghosts. People everywhere have always known that. And we believe in them every bit as much as Homer did. Only now, we call them by different names. Memory. The unconscious….”
— Donna Tartt, The Secret History
7. Yesterday, in my writing workshop, Suzanne asked me, “Are you trying to prove the unprovable?”
“Because, you know,” she said. “This magic you notice might truly exist, but it may never be provable.”
8. When I read CG Jung’s autobiography Dreams, Memories and Reflections, I cried a lot. I cried from that place we cry when we realize we are not the first to experience the profoundly unexplainable. That we are not, in fact, weird. Or that weird is, in fact, normal. At least, a little bit normal.
9. Last night I had a dream I was in my childhood home. It looked the way it looked then, not the way it looked 6 months ago when I parked my car in front of the driveway with two of my children in the backseat and asked the owner if I could enter. The kitchen was not gutted in my dream. The living room was not refashioned into some joke in my dream. In my dream, the kitchen was lined with the wallpaper of my youth and the sun shined in through the door to the deck at an angle I was familiar with.
In the dream, our cats are inside the house instead of out, and I ask my husband, “Don’t you think we should get them shots if we are going to let them inside?
He doesn’t answer.
At that moment, I notice a baboon outside in the back yard and get excited. I call for my brother or for my son — some boy who is younger than I am and that I am meant to love — to come look. After all, it’s not often we have a baboon in our backyard. I call for my father, too, or for my husband — some man who I am meant to admire and respect in a way — to bring the smart phone so we can take a picture of it. But he doesn’t respond quickly enough. So I grab my phone and run around to the front of the house where the baboon has run off to.
I manage to capture a shot of the baboon, which I see now has the face of a man, but the body of a monkey and I realize he is neither human, nor animal, but perhaps an angry demi-god. For certain, he is angry, but I am not afraid. He is outside, after all, and I am in.
He is jumping high above the trees and coming back down to Earth again. Nevertheless, I capture a closeup of his face as he stares out but not at me and there behind him is a tree whose leaves have already changed to a deep red and complement the red shades of his angry face.
I get the picture. And I am relieved.